activity is holding up, but bosses are worried

It’s not a return to school with fanfare, but not the berezina either. We are not seeing an overall slowdown. We are rather on a good trend”admits Frédéric Guichard, general manager of the Pharmacy and Green Solutions division of De Dietrich Process Systems, which reports that there are more uncertainties in Germany ». In this industrial company working in pharmacy and chemistry, the return of production of certain molecules such as paracetamol and amoxicillin in France results in order books record ».

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In a completely different sector, Alexandra Broussaud, general manager of Maison Broussaud, which manufactures socks in Limousin, is also delighted to have seen the order books suddenly fill up in the middle of summer, after a big gap in air which alarmed her somewhat. But now the problem is being able to fulfill these orders, while I am missing ten people in the factory workforce”she laments.

After a summer considered very calm for businesses, apart from those focused on hotels and restaurants, the start of the school year is going rather better than expected. More than the level of activity, which generally remains positive, attention is now focused on cash flow. The tensions are real » on this side, notes François elin, president of the Confederation of Small and Medium Enterprises, which represents 243,000 companies and 4 million employees.

Risk of a “scissor effect”

The reason is the need now to repay state-guaranteed loans taken out during the Covid-19 pandemic, while the cost of financing is soaring with interest rate increases. “ This milestone is easy to achieve if activity remains sustainedexplains Mr. elin, but if it slows down, we risk ending up with a jaws effect which will make the situation more delicate. »

Business leaders also have to deal with the price of energy, which is still very high, and the end of the tariff shield put in place to help them, scheduled for 1er January 2024. The executive told us that it was going to act to change the method of calculating the price of energy”recalls Mr. elin. There are less than six months left to do so. Entrepreneurs are worried. »

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The Banque de France, which questions around 8,500 business leaders each month about their activity, confirms this observation. “Contrary to what certain indicators might suggest, there is no marked turnaround », indicated, Tuesday September 12, Olivier Garnier, chief economist of the institution, presenting the results of this survey. This converges with INSEE forecasts: after a second quarter boosted by exports, which made it possible to achieve 0.5% growth, gross domestic product will increase by 1% in the third quarter, according to figures published Thursday September 7. However, this resilience has variable geometry.

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