The 13th CEE Top 500 study provides an insight into the future and summarizes the region’s economic activity for the previous year. Moreover, it describes the condition of the 500 largest companies in CEE by their turnover. This edition describes the struggles of the new Covid-19 pandemic environment as well as how companies adjusted to this new situation. Jarosław Jaworski, CEO of Coface Central and Eastern Europe, explains that “the CEE economies have adapted to the new, pandemic environment, but its positive picture is challenged by the global and European perspective. Central and Eastern Europe’s 500 largest businesses faced a decrease in revenues and an even sharper drop in profits in 2020.” The Top 500 companies' turnover has dropped by 3.3% to 667 billion euros. Average turnover contracted to 1,333 million euros compared to last year’s 1,378 million euros, showing the impact the pandemic has had on the region, but also its resilience and growth potential.
More than 18 months after the global recession triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic started, the economic recovery continues. This trend owes much to progress in the vaccine rollout over the summer, particularly in advanced economies. In turn, this is spurring a rebound in consumption of high-contact services. The situation remains heterogeneous in emerging economies: this rebound is benefitting export-oriented countries, while service-dependent economies continue lagging.
The retail sector’s activity has been affected by the COVID crisis through social distancing measures and closure of stores. However, the effect of the pandemic on the sector greatly varies across countries and segments. While some countries did experience lower retail sales in 2020, the effect was null in others and even positive in Northern European countries. The impacts are also different according to the segments, clothing stores being the most affected.
Overall, COVID should have a limited impact on the retail sector and the most impacted segments are expected to recover as soon as the situation eases. However, maritime freight disruptions, which cause supply issues and higher inflation, could be an obstacle to the full recovery of the retail sector in 2021.
While the restrictions linked to the COVID-19 pandemic put a temporary stop to the upsurge of protest movements, a new wave is on the horizon. Protests, mainly in emerging countries, are expected to increase due to an unprecedented deterioration of socio-economic indicators. In 2020, the Coface social and political risk indicator reached a record of 51% worldwide, and 55% in emerging countries.
The 5th edition of Coface’s survey on corporate payment experience in Germany was conducted in July and August 2021, with 819 companies participating.
One of the main takeaways is that German companies seem to have acclimatised to the pandemic environment. More companies are offering payment terms compared to last year when the figure had fallen sharply. Although Germany experienced a strong recession in 2020 and early 2021, payment discipline continued to improve in 2021 compared to already good results in 2020. Furthermore, the average duration of payment delays shortened by over a week.