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At the start of the Medef, the bosses look gray

Economic situation, taxation, projections… At Longchamp, for the back-to-school event of the Medef, the morale of business leaders is not at its zenith.

By Philippine Robert

During her speech, Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne tried to reassure Patrick Martin, the boss of bosses.

Tgloomy weather above Longchamp. For the first time since its relocation to the lawns of the famous Parisian hippodrome, the Rencontre des entrepreneurs de France (REF) – the big annual meeting of the Medef which took place on Monday August 28 and Tuesday August 29 – opened in the rain . As a metaphor for the state of mind of the bosses in this new school year 2023.

“I try to remain optimistic, but there are many uncertainties: for the moment, we are resisting… But what about 2024? asks Pierre-Olivier Bard, France director of the Avis Budget group, who has already seen holidaymakers cut into the car rental kitty this summer and is now worried about the business travel budget that will be allocated by its customers this year.

Morale in the socks

Pierre-Olivier Bard is not the only business leader to see the future gradually turn gray. After a better than expected start to the year, the weather is clouding up again. A few days before the opening of the REF, INSEE published its business climate indicator, a measure of the morale of bosses. In August, it was at its lowest since April 2021…

READ ALSOBut what is the Medef for?

Nothing astonishing with this blow of softness. Interest rate hikes are likely to continue, as suggested by central bankers meeting in Jackson Hole, US, last week. Bankruptcy figures are on an upward trend. Inflation continues to eat away at purchasing power. The Chinese slowdown threatens global growth. In short, the bad news has been piling up for several weeks on the economic front and activity is slowly starting to seize up.

“Don’t Stop Me Now”

As if to ward off bad luck, Patrick Martin, the new boss of bosses, elected following Geoffroy Roux de Bézieux last July, took the stage to the rhythm of “Don’t Stop Me Now” by Queen, for his speech. opening Monday August 28. “I think that in this somewhat anxiety-provoking period, a dose of enthusiasm does no harm! he joked. Before tackling another big piece that worries employers: the government’s future policy, and in particular the postponement of the postponement of the abolition of the CVAE (contribution on the added value of companies) in 2027.

READ ALSOPatrick Martin elected at the head of the Medef: the challenge of continuityVideo speech by Emmanuel Macron, speeches by Élisabeth Borne and Bruno Le Maire… The executive has put on his firefighter uniform to reassure the bosses: yes, the government is always pro-business, and it will do everything to pamper businesses, no, there will be no tax increases. The CVAE will gradually decrease and if the leeway allows it, it will disappear before 2027.

on his hunger

Not enough, according to some business leaders. “The economic situation is already not terrible, and in addition the announcements are lukewarm,” sighs Khalil Mouna, general manager and co-founder of Gleeph, the social network for readers. “We expect more from the government, especially in terms of sovereignty,” he continues, giving the example of his own company, in direct competition with the Goodreads network, owned by Amazon and not subject to the same regulations. Patrick Martin also declared that he remained “unsatisfied” after Elisabeth Borne’s speech.

Fortunately, some bosses have not lost their smiles… and are even taking advantage of the economic situation. “We offer the reuse of professional equipment for companies: in a context of inflation and shortage of raw materials, we are very optimistic for our activity”, smiles Sophie Scantamburlo-Contreras, the boss of Scop3, a company which employs 12 people, and based in Montpellier. As if to prove him right, the sun didn’t take long to return and hit the green lawns of Longchamp again.

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