Between inflation and explosion of energy prices, entrepreneurs very worried

According to the latest CPME business survey, released by The Sunday Journalbusiness leaders are hit hard.

Inflation, explosion of energy cost, declining activity… Entrepreneurs are worried about these three trends. This is what emerges from the latest economic survey of the Confederation of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (CPME), unveiled by the JDD, but which was carried out before the latest government aid announcements. “These problems were already present in our July survey but they have worsened», warns François Asselin, president of the CPME, in the weekly.

So much so that almost one in ten VSE/SME managers are considering stopping their activities because of the rise in energy prices. Of the 2,428 business leaders who are members of the CMPE, the Confederation of SMEs, whom the latter questioned from October 6 to 25 by internet, they were exactly 9% to consider this possibility.

Indeed, for 21% of business leaders surveyed, the cost of energy has increased from 3% to 41% of their turnover between 2021 and 2022. A figure which should rise to 60% in 2023. An explosion in energy bills which should negatively impact the results of their company, in 2022, for nearly one in two managers (45%). When renewing their contract, nearly 9 business leaders out of 10 feel that they cannot really negotiate prices with their energy supplier. A negotiation which must be carried out for 18% of them by the end of the year and in 2023 for 41%.

But faced with the explosion of bills and the multiplication of calls for help from entrepreneurs who can no longer pay them, the government has resolved to expand its support systems through a business assistance plan. of 12 billion euros. A “shock absorber» on electricity prices will notably be put in place: the executive will bear part of the bill for VSEs that do not benefit from the tariff shield.

A second system, already existing but simplified, will allow companies whose energy bills (mainly gas for small businesses) have increased by at least 50% from 2022 by the end of November to obtain aid, with the possibility of requesting a deposit.

Costs up 10% for half of the managers

But the rise in electricity bills is not the only difficulty encountered by the leaders. 9 out of 10 business leaders have to deal with general price increases from their suppliers.

Lower volumes, longer delivery times and higher costs… For suppliers, SMEs are a captive clientelesaid François Asselin, President of the CPME. More than 1 in 2 bosses encounter difficulties in obtaining supplies of intermediate goods or raw materials. First cause of this situation, the cost, for 87% of respondents. Next comes the monitoring of delivery times (71%) and the quantities available (69%). As a result, more than half of the managers deplore a 10% increase in production costs. A third of them say they do not transfer this increase to their selling prices.

Despite these difficulties, entrepreneurs are hanging on. “ It’s not a disaster and we don’t see a massive and immediate dropout “, admits the CPME in The Sunday Journal. 32% of business leaders anticipate an improvement in the situation of their business. A figure still down 10% compared to the first half of 2022.

In addition, managers look more to their banks for financing solutions for their investments than for cash (31% against 24%). A positive signal, supported by the banks, since requests for financing more often obtain a favorable response than those for cash support (71% against 50%).

Cash that was saved for some thanks to state-guaranteed loans granted at the time of the health crisis. But now comes the delicate time of reimbursement. According to the CPME survey, 87% of business leaders who have used it believe they can meet their deadlines. A figure that rises to 99% if the maturities could be spread over four additional years. But for that, Brussels would then have to give the green light to a device which consists of state aid.


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