Number of bankruptcies in Flanders reached record high in 2023

Last December’s 949 bankruptcies brought the total number of bankruptcies in 2023 to 10,771. This represents a 9.65 percent increase compared to 2022. The figures are similar to those for 2017 and 2018.

Bankruptcies by region
Geographically, all records were killed within the Flemish Region, mainly prompted by the hunt for fraudulent companies and ghost companies. With 6,234 statements, this was the highest number of bankruptcies ever.

Records also fell at provincial level, in Flemish Brabant and East Flanders and in the districts of Halle-Vilvoorde and Leuven.

Within the Walloon Region, there were marked increases in the number of bankruptcies in each province compared to 2022.

 As the only region, the Brussels region experienced a decrease in the number of bankruptcies (-5.19 percent) compared to 2022.

Figure: number of bankruptcies by region: january-december
Figuur faillissementen per gewest

Construction industry and catering
Never before have so many young companies gone bankrupt. At the federal level, as many as 40.99 percent of all bankruptcies were companies under the age of five. Here too, the emphasis was clearly within the Flemish Region.

With 2,255 bankruptcies, the construction sector reached a record number of bankruptcies last year, an increase of 11.47 percent over the previous year. This makes the sector the largest provider of bankruptcies.

Traditionally, the catering sector (+ 15.98 percent) follows in second place as a bankruptcy provider, although the number of statements is still slightly below the pre-covid level. A record number of jobs were lost due to employer bankruptcies, however.
Annual records also went for the ax in the transport sector and the trade in cars and garages.

No positive outlook
There are few arguments to look positively ahead to 2024. The core group of unhealthy companies has grown strongly. Many companies are now experiencing the shocks of 2023 and are using their latest reserves. Growing uncertainty at the global level is also creating a difficult investment climate.

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Photo: Shutterstock

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