62% of Belgian Companies Remain Bullish on US Growth Outlook
- Covid19 Pulse Survey conducted with Boston Consulting Group (BCG) shows unwavering ambitions amongst majority of Belgian companies in the US.
- Covid19 exerted the greatest negative impact on sales operations, followed by customer demand and employee morale.
- Mid-term challenges focus around sales and talent management due to closed borders, reduced business travel and significant immigration hurdles.
New York City, October 29, 2020 – The Covid19 Pulse Survey reveals that despite the challenging circumstances, 62 percent of respondents highlighted unchanged (although, for some, on a different timeline) goals and ambitions in the US – especially amongst the ICT, healthcare and pharmaceuticals respondents. Moreover, 18 percent of companies reported increased ambition since their product/services garnered stronger traction in the “new normal”.
This survey was a joint initiative by the Consulate General of Belgium in NY, regional representation (FIT, AWEX, Hub.Brussels) and the Belgian-American Chamber of Commerce in the US (BelCham). It was conducted amongst 50 Belgian companies in the US in partnership with BCG.
“We are reassured to see that the majority of survey respondents continue to see the US as a distinct destination for international business. While time horizons are shifting due to the uncertainty in the business and political realm, most Belgian businesses appear to be willing and able to take advantage of future opportunities,” said Frank Geerkens, Consul General of Belgium in NY.
Significant Impact on Revenues and Business Operations
Expectedly, 42 percent of companies saw revenue drop by more than 25 percent due to Covid19 (21 percent saw a drop of more than 50 percent). Mid-sized companies (11-100 employees) saw a smaller negative revenue impact (30 percent negative) in contrast to their larger counterparts (+100 employees) of which 80 percent experienced a significant negative impact. On the other end, half of the ICT and healthcare companies saw an increase in revenue throughout the pandemic and expect this trend to be durable; consultancy and business services registered short-term negative effects but believe in a long-term rebound.
Overall, the pandemic has had an explicit, negative impact on sales operations (70 percent of respondents), followed by customer demand (52 percent) and employee morale (47 percent).
A Cautiously Positive Market Outlook
Belgian firms anticipate sales and talent management to be their main challenges, in part due to remote working conditions, closed borders, immigration challenges and an overall uncertain economic landscape. Concerns are wide-ranging, including the inability to travel, attend conferences and delayed critical business decisions. Locking down the right talent at the right time has proven increasingly challenging, given an unpredictable global situation.
When asked about the long-term impact of Covid19 on their US business performance, respondents – especially small companies (up to 10 employees), remain optimistic about future growth opportunities given the transition towards online sales and digital customer engagement. This positive outlook also applies to the upcoming presidential elections and its potential to overturn current dynamics and open up borders again.
Call for Support
Results reveal that about 85 percent of companies received support from BelCham and federal & regional government representation prior to the pandemic. Support included introductions and connections, office space (BelCham Atelier), legal & admin counsel, as well as financial support (i.e. subsidies). Respondents called upon the local ecosystem to take further targeted actions to support their success in the US, including more connections, external visibility and business development aid (~40 percent of respondents).
“We have helped hundreds of Belgian entrepreneurs realize their dream to expand in the US. Together with the government representation, we will continue to help them tap into the opportunities of tomorrow. For BelCham, this includes virtual programming efforts for promising start-ups like our Benelux Catalyst program, online networking events like The Ripple and our new, digital hub (set to launch Q4 2020) for the transatlantic community providing real-time collaboration, connectivity and insights into the local market dynamics,” said Valerie Van den Keybus, Managing Director BelCham.
About the Covid19 Pulse Survey | Belgian Companies in the US
The Covid19 Pulse Survey amongst Belgian Companies in the US was a one-of-its-kind joint initiative by the Consulate General of Belgium in NY, BelCham, AWEX, Hub Brussels and Flanders Investment & Trade. The survey was created in partnership with Boston Consulting Group (NYC). It was conducted over the summer months in 2020.
The questionnaire consisted of 26 questions and sampled 50 respondents across a broad geographical and industry spread. 50+ percent of respondents were smaller companies (1-10 employees); 40 percent identified as startups and42 percent of companies were established in the US within the last three years (in or after 2017). A bit over half of the respondents have their parent company established in Flanders, 26 percent in Brussels and 22 percent in Wallonia. Respondents are active in a diverse set of industries, focusing mostly on providing services to large corporates.
Contact: Valerie@belcham.org | +1 347 439 4372