The Netherlands: a positive outlier in Europe with historic low bankruptcy numbers in 2022 due to emergency support

Reading Time 4 minutes | Written by Anne de Geus | September 4, 2023

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Altares Dun & Bradstreet's European Bankruptcy Report shows that trade and construction remain economically vulnerable and that the financial tide threatens to turn in 2023

Rotterdam, 4 september 2023 - The Netherlands stands out positively in Europe with record low bankruptcy numbers in 2022. While the number of bankruptcies kept growing in many European countries, it fell again in the Netherlands, according to a report by business data expert Altares Dun & Bradstreet which analysed 31 European countries.

The number of bankruptcies there dropped by a notable 12.4% last year compared to 2021. This resulted in the lowest number of bankruptcies in the records reported by Altares Dun & Bradstreet in 2022: 2,081, evidence of the resilience of the Dutch business community, but also of the impact of government support.

Effectiveness of temporary support measures

While other European countries, such as France (+49.9%), Belgium (+35%) and Spain (+21%), saw bankruptcies increase in 2022, Dutch companies managed to reverse the trend despite the challenging economic situation. The extensive state support measures appear to have been effective; Dutch companies benefited from the various government support measures during the pandemic. The fixed costs allowance (tegemoetkoming vaste lasten - TVL), the temporary emergency bridging measure for labour costs (NOW) and the option to defer payment of general taxes were extended until April 2022.

Trade and construction remain vulnerable

The Central Bureau of Statistics has confirmed these trends with an estimated 18% decrease in the number of bankruptcies in 2022, compared to the previous year. Although significant fiscal support has been provided, sectors such as trade and construction appear vulnerable. The number of bankruptcies was highest in the trade sector, followed by construction. As the retail, wholesale and food sectors were hit hardest by the pandemic, this is where the most bankruptcies were filed.

“We cannot ignore the fact that the Dutch economy has contracted for the second quarter in a row. Our figures on trade intensity between companies also showed a small decrease. Bankruptcies increased by 2.4 percent in the second quarter compared to the first quarter,” says David Verheecke, Managing Director at Altares Dun & Bradstreet.

Not quite back to the old level

A further increase in the number of bankruptcies is expected in 2023. “The financial support measures implemented by the Dutch state have managed to keep the number of bankruptcies low, but there is a risk of an increase with the phasing out of that government support and rising financing costs and import prices. When this is compounded by high inflation and interest rates, companies are faced with new challenges. Despite these prospects, the number of bankruptcies will still be considerably lower than the peak of 9,438 reached in 2013,” concludes Verheecke.

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