Economy. SME managers are pessimistic about 2023 amid the energy crisis

Rising energy prices, sluggish business prospects and investment caution: French VSEs and SMEs approach the new year with anxiety.

French VSEs and SMEs: The end of the post-Covid effect?

During this energy crisis, many French companies are facing economic difficulties. In this regard, the results of the 76th economic survey conducted by the state investment bank Bpifrance among SMEs offer several interesting lessons. The survey, published on January 10, assesses the situation and prospects of VSE-SMEs in terms of activity, employment, cash flow and investment at the end of 2022 after surveying 4,590 companies across France.

First of all, it should be noted that after a strong post-Covid rebound in 2021, French VSE and SME activity slowed last year. However, the dynamism remained in place while the supply problem caused by the health crisis eased somewhat. in recent months.

Another thing that characterizes this year 2022 is the continuous recruitment difficulties that many companies are facing. Thus, several sectors, such as textiles or digital technology, have had great difficulty filling all positions.

In addition, the publication Bpifrance notes that the slowdown in activity at the end of 2022 affected all areas of activity, although tourism and transport were less affected. On the contrary, construction and trade were more affected.

Cash has gone bad for the energy bill

Inflation, especially with regard to energy, this increase in costs affected the financial position of VSEs and SMEs in the second half of 2022. In the end, far from a very favorable level, a situation that will worsen in the coming months of 2021.

To counter these effects, more than half of French VSEs and SMEs have used their PGE (Government-guaranteed loan), 57% of which have consumed this loan by the end of 2022 (i.e. +10 in one year honey). ). At the same time, to increase revenues, 72% of companies said that they increased their sales prices.

In this delicate environment, it is therefore not surprising that investments will slow down in 2022. Although the terms of access to financing are still relatively favorable for companies, they have nevertheless tightened in recent months.

What are the prospects for 2023?

Business leaders are not very sure about the business outlook for next year. Thus, VSEs-SMEs predict a slowdown in their activity in 2023, while many of them believe that supply difficulties will continue (37% for more than a year and 42% are uncertain about this) and expect energy costs to rise sharply. .

Although 54% of VSE-SMEs consuming electricity in the short term are protected from sharp fluctuations in market prices (indexed to the contract regulated tariff or fixed price with renewal after 2023), industrial companies seem to be more vulnerable: 35% of them in 2023- There is a fixed price contract scheduled to be extended until the end of the year or a contract indexed to the market price compared to 20% for all sectors.

Moreover, the balance of opinion on the performance forecast in 2023 fell to +6 (–25 points in 1 year) and is below the long-term average (+17). As for hiring, they will be more stable: the labor force forecast fell to +17 (-12 points in 1 year), but remains above the long-term average (+12).

In terms of investment, the forecast for 2023 is also rather weak: the indicator for the expected evolution of investment spending has lost 7 points in one year to +11 (the lowest level since 2014) and is below the long-term average (+14) . ):


Thus, although more than half (51%) of VSEs and SMEs plan to invest in 2023, the volume of spending will be significantly lower.

By comparison, this rate has decreased slightly compared to last year (53% in November 2021 for 2022), but remains close to the long-term average (53%).

How do SMEs and VSEs work in administrative Brittany?

In the Brittany Region, despite the slowdown, activity remains dynamic in 2022. Revenue grew by +5.6% (after +8.5% in 2021). The activity indicator decreased by 16 points to +29 within a year, above the national level (+27), and the employment indicator lost 4 points to +13, close to the national average (+14).

Cash flow of VSEs and SMEs in the last 6 months is considered less easy than a year ago. The balance of opinion fell 6 points over the year to -9, in line with the national average. Nevertheless, the indicator remains well above the historical average (−18).

As for investment spending, it slowed down in 2022. The index of invested amounts decreased by 9 points over the year to +1, remaining slightly above the long-term average (−2). 54% of VSEs-SMEs plan to invest, this proportion is almost constant over the year.

By 2023, VSEs and SMEs in the region are also expecting a sharp decline in their activities. The forecast activity indicator fell 22 points to +2, well below the historical average (+16).

As for investment, these companies in administrative Brittany predict a slowdown in 2023. 2022 is the year 56% of them intend to invest, and 61% in 2022.

Photo credit: DR (illustration image)
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