Seven out of ten Flemish businesses have weathered the COVID-19 crisis well

Most companies (67%) in Flanders weathered the coronavius crisis "well" or "rather well", shows a new survey by the Social and Economic Council of Flanders (SERV). On the other hand, 9,6% of businesses say they did not get through the pandemic (at all) well, according to results announced by SERV on Thurdsay.

How well a company has withstood the coronacrisis mainly depends on its size (the bigger, the better its chances), in which sector it is active and whether it has experienced an increase in demand, shows the latest edition of SERV's triennial business survey. Large businesses responded positively in 86,7% of all cases, whereas this number drops to 64,5% for small businesses. Additionally, companies in the industrial or quaternary sector of the economy did significantly better (72,8% and 74,7% respectively) than businesses in the service industry (64,5%). Main aspects which negatively affected businesses are a reduce in demand, supply shortages and compulsory closures.

67,2% of participants say they managed to weather the COVID-19 crisis "well" or "rather well", 23,2% responded "neutral" and 9,2% found they did "not" or "not at all" get through the pandemic well. Participants were asked what effects the crisis was having on their business operations, what measures were being taken to manage the crisis, and how they experienced the crisis. The most common measures Flemish companies took to adapt to the crisis, were "adjusted work organisation" and "digitalisation of work processes", but the survey also showed that there is "no magical formula for success". The most sure-fire strategy, according to SERV, may have been to develop new products and/or services.

"There were many elements companies couldn't control, and they had to make do with what they had. Unfortunately, the war in Ukraine is now challenging them again."

"Corona has had a major impact on social and economic life. The service sector and small businesses were particularly hard hit", says SERV chairman Hans Maertens. "The survey shows that a large group of companies have weathered the crisis relatively well, but this has cost them a great deal of effort. There were many elements companies couldn't control, and they had to make do with what they had. Unfortunately, the war in Ukraine is now challenging them again."

Every three years, SERV, the main advisory body to the Flemish government on socio-economic policy representing both trade unions and employer associations, conducts an enterprise survey every three years, among a representative sample of over a thousand companies in Flanders and Dutch-speaking Brussels.



Photo shows worker with mask and gloves at the gardening store Eurotuin Ophasselt in Geraardsbergen, Thursday 16 April 2020. © BELGA PHOTO NICOLAS MAETERLINCK

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