- 50% of survey respondents expect to face cash issues for their Belgian business operations within six months, growing from 18% which foresee problems in the next three months.
- International companies expect employment, revenues and investment in Belgium to all decline between 10 and 20% in 2020.
- About 75% of respondents have more than four out of five employees working from home, in compliance with the government’s ‘social distancing’ measures.
- Survey results indicate that the crisis may accelerate the adoption of digital ways of working, drive some companies to more local supply chains and lead to new waves of industry consolidation.
Brussels, April 3, 2020 – A flash survey conducted by AmCham Belgium and Kearney over March 26-30, 2020 offers a preliminary assessment of the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on the international business community in Belgium and a snapshot of business leaders’ opinions across a range of industries.
“Beyond the immediate health crisis, I am deeply concerned about the looming cash crunch, with more companies expecting liquidity problems one year from now than today,” said Marcel Claes, Chief Executive of AmCham Belgium. “With our members, we are developing recommendations for the Belgian Government to address both the short and long-term economic challenges.”
Business activity has been significantly impacted by the crisis, with below average workload across many sectors. More than a quarter of survey respondents (27%) have fully or partially closed their field operations, i.e. logistics hubs, retail stores, manufacturing plants. While not all sectors are suffering in the same way– and some are even doing very well – the trends are clear.
“Companies will learn from this crisis and adapt. The COVID-19 experience will not only change their risk perception, but also drive business transformation, including the accelerated adoption of new technologies,” said Yvan Jansen, Partner at Kearney.
The positive experience of working-from-home in the current situation – only 14% of respondents report significant challenges with this – will likely lead to more work-from-home days in the future. Companies expect to increasingly rely on digital tools for internal collaboration as well as customer engagement. Depending on the sector, the crisis will also spur companies to deploy more automation and robotics.
Only a few weeks into the crisis, many companies are already considering the long-term impact on their operations and supply chains. Up to 40% of respondents are re-evaluating the countries from which they purchase, while a smaller but still important number are also looking into their manufacturing locations. Although it is still early days, up to 21% of survey respondents think the current crisis may give rise to merger and acquisition opportunities.
Since the COVID-19 crisis is developing fast, we may consider a future survey to update our findings.
About AmCham Belgium
The American Chamber of Commerce in Belgium (AmCham Belgium) is a dynamic non-profit organization dedicated to improving business and investment opportunities for the US-Belgian business community. Supported by around 450 member companies, AmCham Belgium plays a pivotal role in an evolving business environment by focusing on three key areas: advocacy, networking and knowledge-sharing. To learn more about AmCham Belgium, visit www.amcham.be.
Kearney is a global management consulting firm with over 3,600 people working in 40 countries. Kearney assists more than three-quarters of the Fortune Global 500, as well as with influential governmental and non-profit organizations, focusing on strategic and operational CEO-agenda issues. For more information, visit www.kearney.be.