Eight in ten companies believe they will return to pre-COVID-19 growth levels in 2022
Eight in ten family businesses estimate that they will return to pre-pandemic growth levels in 2022, according to a survey carried out by the consulting firm PwC, which analyzes the economic situation of SMEs and the impact that the pandemic has had. them.
A recovery which, in the opinion of Jordi Sol Tuy, partner and managing director of the financing company Kreedit, has as a major obstacle the uncertainty about the definitive end of the pandemic. “As long as there is a likelihood of a further spread of the virus, whether it be one variant or the other, there will be uncertainty and it will slow down business investment and the hiring of staff.” , he said.
On the other hand, as the survey shows, digitization will play a key role in the recovery, which is in the minds of those surveyed, as 60% see it as the main investment priority in the coming years. .
In addition, certain stimuli, such as European stimulus funds, “are directly linked to this digitization”, which, in the long term, according to Sol, “will make SMEs more efficient”.
When to remove stimuli?
Sol points out as one of the main challenges for the resumption of growth knowing when to withdraw the economic stimuli deployed by the State to compensate for the stoppages of activity and the economic losses.
Specifically, Sol is referring to stimuli such as ICO loans, currently in their sixth tranche and the grace period for those or the ERTE extension beyond September 20. “These are instruments that have prevented a wave of defaults that could also have affected businesses that had not been harmed by the pandemic,” he says.
Concretely, the stimulus of this sixth tranche of loans guaranteed by the State Institute amounts to 15,000 million euros, two thirds of which are intended for SMEs, while everything seems to indicate that, although in a smaller measure, ERTE will remain beyond September.
“If these measures are not properly removed, waves of damage can be caused which can spread through the commercial fabric just like the covid does,” explains the expert.
In this sense, Sol is in favor of maintaining these stimuli for the moment, because according to him “the acceleration of weaning can be a brake on the recovery”, but he warns that maintaining them too long “can cause irreparable damage” to the commercial fabric. , due to excessive intervention in economic activity.
Recovery with eradication only
The expert warns that, while there are some sectors in which the gradual withdrawal of containment measures facilitates recovery, there are others that depend on “the complete elimination of the presence of the virus”.
“These are activities that require personal contact,” says Sol, who adds that “sectors such as retail, food service or travel” will not fully recover as long as there are infections.
A situation which, in Sol’s opinion, will generate a “boom” in consumption when covid-19 is eradicated, when these companies “will experience a boom because people will want to recover the time they do not have. profited during all these months and take advantage of the savings that you have been able to accumulate, ”explains the expert.
Sol also points to the “high indebtedness” present in the “great majority of SMEs” as one of the “critical problems” which these business formations will have to face during the following financial year. This debt should, according to him, also take into account the repayment of loans guaranteed by the ICO.
“The ability to manage this debt well will be one of the factors that will influence whether a business maintains its viability or loses it permanently,” Sol concludes.