During the Covid pandemic, the number of business failures in France had collapsed thanks to the “whatever it takes” policy. In the first half of 2022, it remains very far from its level before the health crisis: 34,200 defects were recorded over one year, at the end of June, by the firm Altares, i.e. around 20,000 less than in 2019 at the same time. “Business activity is solid. In addition, they emerged from the Covid crisis with comfortable levels of cash, often unused. This gave them the means to approach the year 2022 in good conditions”, analyzes Thierry Millon, director of studies at Altares.
Alas, not all companies are in the same situation. And the rise in failures is accelerating. In the second quarter, 9,826 collective proceedings threatening more than 30,000 jobs have been opened. A figure up 49% compared to the same period of 2021, which follows a rebound of 35% in the previous three months. “85% of failures relate to commercial companies which have not had the activity they expected”, notes Thierry Millon.
Those born before or during the health crisis are particularly affected. At the sectoral level, cases are multiplying in trade, catering and personal services, where defects have more than doubled. Industries such as agri-food or wood and building materials activities also recorded a jump in defects.
However, failures should not explode in 2022, according to Altares. To date, the firm expects 37,000, more than last year (28,400), but still significantly less than in 2019 (52,000). Rarely have there been so many uncertainties about future activity.
Growth prospects are deteriorating. Supply and recruitment difficulties persist. “Since June, late payments and unpaid bills are on the rise again,” observes Thierry Millon. Finally, the showdown with Vladimir Putin poses the threat of a serious energy crisis with the cut in Russian gas deliveries.
Faced with all these risks, the government announced in early July the extension of the support mission for vulnerable businesses. At the Economic Meetings of Aix en Provence, this weekend, the Minister of the Economy, Bruno Le Maire, did not hide the fact that it would be necessary to “look very carefully […] which companies should reduce their energy consumption and which cannot”.
The activity of the sectors affected by the restrictions is likely to be affected. “The transport of goods must be able to continue to work and that the traders be delivered”, already warns Thierry Millon. Otherwise some companies will not resist.