The crisis committee established by Bercy warns of a tripling of payment incidents since mid-March. Companies withhold their “cash” as a precaution, thus endangering their supplier fabric.

The activity of the business mediator, Pierre Pelouzet, exploded with the state of health emergency.

This was the fear of the public authorities from the first economic difficulties linked to containment: companies which withhold their “cash” as a precaution, thus endangering their fabric of suppliers. These practices already existed before the crisis, but they have been accentuated since March. The incidents concerning the payment delays of the companies were multiplied by three at the end of the past month, indicated this Thursday the crisis committee on the payment delays.

Created a week after the start of confinement, this committee brings together the business mediator, the credit mediator, as well as several employers’ organizations and the General Directorate for Competition, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Control (DGCCRF) of the Ministry of Finance. ‘Economy. During the week of March 30, these incidents reached 270 million euros, according to statistics from the Banque de France, a level three times higher than the rate observed since the beginning of the year.

“Pasta shelf” syndrome

The committee puts forward several reasons specific to the coronavirus crisis, such as business closures or mail delivery problems, but not only. “The desire of certain companies to withhold cash by not paying their suppliers is also to be underlined”, indicates its press release.

This is what Pierre Pelouzet, business mediator, calls the “Pasta shelf syndrome”, by analogy with companies that are building up reserves, as many consumers did at the start of containment. These reserves, if they endanger the suppliers, risk penalizing the resumption of activity at the end of the health emergency period. The crisis committee has already intervened with a dozen companies whose purchases total several hundred million euros.

Three times more requests to the mediator

A sign of these difficulties, the activity of the business mediator has exploded since mid-March. This Bercy cell, which intervenes in disputes between companies, was called upon ten times more than usual, whether for referrals or simple requests for information.

The crisis committee also wanted to underline the positive developments in terms of payment terms. Ten companies (Bouygues Telecom, Danone, EDF, Enedis, Iliad, Jouve, L’Oréal, Orange, Sodexo and Système U) have committed to accelerated payment to their suppliers during the crisis.


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