Horeca struggles to scribble on: ‘Savings and pension are eaten’

It has been rumored for some time: the number of bankruptcies is at an all-time low and, helped by the billions in government support, since the outbreak of the corona crisis only decreased further.

With the exception of a peak after the first lockdown, the low number of bankruptcies also applies to the catering industry. Week 38 of this year had two bankruptcies and the total currently stands at 80 this year. In 2020 there were 287.

But now that government support has virtually dried up, a wave of bankruptcies is imminent, warns trade association Koninklijke Horeca Nederland (KHN). “Entrepreneurs still have to work for years to pay off their debts,” KHN director Dirk Beljaarts told RTL Z earlier.

The repayment of the accrued tax debt and the repayment at the bank cannot be postponed indefinitely. Other experts therefore also provide issues.

Quietly stop

Not only do companies go bankrupt, some entrepreneurs quietly stop.

According to the Chamber of Commerce (KVK), 4740 catering companies deregistered from the trade register in 2020, an increase of 12 percent compared to 2019.

There is not only bad news, because turnover from the catering industry bounced back in the second quarter of this year. With an increase of 38 percent compared to the first quarter.

Yet entrepreneurs are not there yet, says CBS. Because that turnover was still in the pre-corona era considerably higher.

‘Art and flying’

And entrepreneurs feel that, knows Joost d’Hondt, owner of tapas restaurant t’ Zusje in Terneuzen. In 2018 he converted an old post office into a catering business with a partner. In a ‘healthy year’, his turnover is almost 2 million euros, he says. Last year, with a lot of effort and effort, he came to about half.

“We started doing lunches, renting out e-choppers and I seconded some of my employees to local companies, such as Action and Lidl,” he says. “Otherwise we wouldn’t have made it.”

Savings on

The government support was helpful for running costs, d’Hondt says. But because of the calculation methods, he was also partly left out. It wasn’t enough to keep your head above water.

“The entire crisis has cost me about one and a half tons. I have eaten my pension and private assets. And I am still paying off at the bank until the end of 2022.”

‘Help with numbers’

The future is therefore uncertain. “I’m an entrepreneur, I want to be independent and keep going,” he says. But help is welcome. “I have asked the government to look at my annual figures, in order to hopefully still be eligible for TVL support.” Those numbers should provide a basis for fair support for any entrepreneur, he says.

Entrepreneur Govert Janzen, manager of hotel-restaurant Mondragon in Zierikzee, also hopes for customization. Because even though 80 billion euros was spent on corona support, just like other entrepreneurs, he was hardly eligible for it.

“We opened on December 5, 2019, and we had to close again on March 15, 2021,” he says.

Consciously repay support

In the end, the entrepreneur managed to amass 150,000 euros in NOW support, but he has to do it again pay back. “I deliberately requested it,” he says. The money was desperately needed to survive. “With this we have remained liquid. The goal is to pay it back from next year.”

Janzen has already invested all his savings in his business and the wages that he pays himself is a meager 1000 euros gross per month. Borrowing from a bank is not possible, but he will survive the coming low season with an investment from private individuals.

‘High thigh boots’

Janzen is counting on a good new year without restrictions. At the core he has a healthy business, he knows. “Until we get out of the swamp, we aim for survival,” says Janzen. “And I’m wearing high waders.”

After all, stopping support is also a good thing, he thinks. “A lot is kept alive artificially. “But for good entrepreneurs who fall by the wayside, more help is needed.”

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