Dutch businesses much more optimistic about recovery, growth

Businesses owners in the Netherlands and worldwide are much more optimistic now than they were a year ago. The vast majority expect the coming period to bring economic growth, both in general and for their own company, according to the annual survey business consultancy PWC conducts among board chairpersons, NOS reports.

This year PWC surveyed the leaders of 5 thousand companies worldwide, including 141 in the Netherlands, ranging from listed companies to family businesses. All surveyed companies had at least 50 employees.

“Board chairpersons are making plans again. Brexit was not too bad, the American elections were calmer than feared – at least, that was the picture at the beginning of this year. And the vaccines are here,” PWC economist Jan Willem Velthuijsen said. “Compare that with the beginning of last year with, in addition to the corona crisis, the trade war, great uncertainty about the Brexit and about the American presidency.”

Businesses are convinced that the pandemic’s long-term economic damage will be limited, because it is in principle a medical crisis, Velthuijsen said. “In the first wave, the entire economy was brought to a standstill. Now these are more isolated parts of the economy. And many of them will soon be the fastest growers, for example the hospitality and travel industry.”

According to PWC, the coronavirus crisis did prompt a shift in business leaders. Before the pandemic, they were mainly concerns about how to recruit enough skilled personnel. “Corona has led companies to discover that employees are vulnerable, that their resilience is being tested, that people need creativity and connectedness,” Velthuijsen said to the broadcaster. The annual survey showed a new attention for staff welfare.

A majority of surveyed companies also want the imminent economic recovery to be green and sustainable. “Companies are willing to focus on combating climate change, but they expressly demand that the government makes scaling up possible,” Velthuijsen said, using electric driving as an example. Car manufactures are looking at the availability of charging stations, while charger manufacturers are looking at how many electric cars there will be. “Chairpersons want the government to take the lead. That is also a factor in the further development of hydrogen, for example.”