Very small businesses are still concerned about reimbursing their EWPs

The latest Barometer published by Bpifrance, Le Lab and Rexecode shows that 9% of VSE/SME managers think they won't be able to repay their state-guaranteed loan (PGE), a figure up on the previous quarter despite the easing of repayment conditions.

Managers of very small businesses increasingly worried

Last February, the quarterly Bpifrance, Le Lab and Rexecode Barometer revealed that, despite the difficulties encountered in 2022, two-thirds of companies were not experiencing cash flow problems. In fact, the balance of opinion for the months ahead had improved. Investment intentions had even picked up, with 56% of managers surveyed in the first fortnight of February sharing their intention to invest in 2023.

" Even if the growth dynamic is weak, the economic situation is not sufficiently deteriorated for them to give up or slow down their investment projects ", reported Philippe Mutricy, Director of Research at Bpifrance, to Les Echos at the time.

The situation changed in Q2, as shown by the latest survey from Bpifrance, Le Lab and Rexecode. Published on May 16, it shows that 9% of VSE/SME managers fear they will not be able to repay their EMP, up two points on the previous quarter. However, the conditions for repayment of PGEs have been eased, with the government recently extending, through an agreement signed with the Banque de France and the banks, the facility enabling companies in difficulty to reschedule their PGEs over 8 or 10 years, compared with 6 years previously.

Reassuring cash flow indicators according to Bpifrance

However, this trend is not seen as worrying by the specialists. According to Philippe Mutricy, " it's not a significant change ". What's more, the small number of respondents (600) makes it impossible to draw any conclusions.

Bpifrance is reassuring about the financial situation of VSE/SMEs, pointing out that 18% of managers surveyed have already repaid their EMP in full, or intend to do so by the end of the year.

Other cash flow indicators support Bpifrance's view that the situation is improving, notably PGE's default risk, assessed by the Banque de France at around 4.5%.

" Cash flow indicators have stopped deteriorating. That's good news," confides Philippe Mutricy to Les Echos.

According to Bpifrance, this is mainly due to the ability of VSEs in the non-agricultural market sectors to pass on price increases to their customers. This trend is set to continue, with 60% of VSE/SME managers anticipating a rise in their selling prices in 2023, and 78% planning to increase their employees' salaries, despite ongoing recruitment difficulties.

So, while the repayment of PGEs remains a matter of concern for companies, Bpifrance is optimistic, citing the latest cash flow indicators which point to an increase in margins achieved by these players.