Nov. 2021 | Reports and whitepapers |

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Experian sees biggest recovery for companies with 5 to 14 employees, but this may be limited by external factors

Like every quarter, Experian has conducted research into the credit risks and credit outlook for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the Netherlands and how they are performing now that most of the Covid-19 restrictions seem to be in the past. This research is based on public data and self-developed models.

Although sectors such as hospitality and food remain the most at risk, as was shown by the research conducted in the second quarter, the risk is also increasing for SMEs in the financial services sector. Experian also noted that mid-market companies (between 5 and 14 employees) in most sectors are well on their way to recovery and showed the greatest improvement between Q2 and Q3 of this year.


“Covid-19 has caused a massive behavioral shift in the way businesses operate, and the many sector closures over the past 18 months have brought about permanent changes for small businesses. Expected default rates and credit scores have remained stable for many SMEs this quarter as companies have reopened their doors with fresh courage. However, we cannot deny that external factors, such as labour market tightness and supply chain disruptions, are likely to affect the recovery outlook for many of these companies.” – Herman Peeters, Principal Consultant at Experian Netherlands.


Experian’s key findings for the third quarter of 2021:

  • SMEs in the financial services sector are at higher risk of default this quarter. This can likely be attributed to the fact that these smaller financial services firms are supporting other SMEs, which are also at risk of closure or default in 2021.
  • SMEs with 5 to 14 employees are recovering strongly. This is probably because these companies received enough financial support to keep going and were able to creatively adapt their businesses to survive. The smallest firms (1 to 4 employees) are still the most at risk, with a default rate of over 6%.

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General trends noted by Experian:

  • Problems in the supply chain due to the coronavirus may hamper the long-term recovery of the manufacturing and logistics sectors, even if there is some progress now.
  • The labor market is under pressure, there are more employers looking for staff than there is talent to fill those vacancies. This is likely to result in wage inflation as companies seek to attract the best talent. This could put even more pressure on companies that are already at risk. The impact is greatest for companies with fewer than four employees, which may find it harder to compete in the labor market.


“The government has supported SMEs in the Netherlands quite well, and companies that were agile and creative had the best chance of surviving and rebuilding in these conditions, but now that government support has ended in September 2021, we will have a clearer picture of the debt and credit risks of SMEs in highly vulnerable sectors outside the hospitality industry, such as business or financial services.” – Herman Peeters, Principal Consultant at Experian Netherlands.


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