Resumption, what resumption? Business leaders respond

Rarely has the start of the school year also been uncertain and concerns should largely feed the conversations on the lawn of the Longchamp racecourse in Paris, where the Medef summer university is held on Wednesday August 26 and Thursday August 27, entitled ” Renaissance of French companies ».

→ READ. Faced with the health emergency, the recovery plan postponed for a week

Because for many of them, the main subject is that of survival. The government, which has acted as a firefighter since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, should once again promise lasting support. Prime Minister Jean Castex will deliver the opening speech and unveil some measures of the recovery plan, which has been postponed by one week, to September 2. This is particularly the case with the 10 billion euro reduction in production taxes.

In an interview with Echoes, published Tuesday, August 25, the Minister of the Economy Bruno Le Maire also announced an extension of the repayment periods for state guaranteed loans (PGE), with an interest rate varying from 1 to 3% depending on the duration of the loan. refund. A new borrowing system will also be put in place. “ long-term participatory loans, with a term of at least seven years’, who “ will count in the equity of companies but without participation in their governance », Explains the minister. Long-awaited measures.

During the many debates, the bosses will also have to take hold of a certain number of the “next world”, such as new forms of work organization, economic sovereignty or even relocations.

“We need a message of confidence to companies”

Olivier Bogillot, Chairman of Sanofi France

“The anguish we experienced at the time of containment is behind us and the priority must be clearly today to revive the economy, despite the legitimate concerns that there may be about the circulation of the virus.

The companies have shown themselves to be very agile by setting up new work organizations and very strict health protocols in record time. The conditions are met so that once the start of the school year the economy starts again. The Prime Minister’s recent comments on the obligation to wear a mask in business can thus be seen as an encouraging signal.

Through its stimulus plan, the government must send a message of confidence to businesses, especially those most affected by the abrupt cessation of activity. The State must bring concrete action and be able to act quickly, as it has been able to do with partial unemployment. This is why the announcements concerning a reduction in production taxes, these inconsistent taxes which must be paid whatever the result of the company, are eagerly awaited, as well as all the measures favoring investments for the future on the whole. of our territories.

→ ANALYSIS. Wearing a mask in business: an obligation with a fragile legal status

We have seen that a pandemic can turn into an economic crisis. But also that the countries which had known how to preserve their health sovereignty were doing better. This should serve as a lesson to us. We must both maintain our production units on our soil and in Europe and encourage innovation, essential to the European sovereignty of tomorrow. “

“The problem is uncertainty over time”

Thierry Mallet, CEO of Transdev and President of the UTP (Union of Public Transport and Railways)

“Transporting people to their place of work makes our profession dependent on others. One of our hypotheses established an attendance of around 60% at the start of the school year and 80% at the end of the year: the loss of commercial revenue would then be nearly 50% for the entire sector, or around two billion. euros. In reality, our level of activity will be directly linked to future decisions regarding the continuation of teleworking and the resumption of economic activity.

In addition to the economic impact, the uncertainty about the return of passengers in public transport blocks any development. By knowing who is coming back to work or not, or if the inhabitants of town centers will permanently adopt alternative means of transport (walking, cycling), we could, with local communities, adapt the offer to better serve the living areas. , one of the objectives of the recent mobility orientation law.

Before talking about a recovery plan, we are waiting for a support plan that would make it possible to maintain the workforce. Germany has just received a green light from the European Union for six billion euros for its plan to support public transport. Even larger amounts will be added to their stimulus plan, giving pride of place to hydrogen (nine billion euros): a technology to be explored to make its production cost closer to that of conventional fuels and continue electrification of the fleet. . “

“The polarization of French society is likely to increase”

Jerome Fourquet, Director of the Opinion and Business Strategies division of Ifop

“French society is split into several poles, divided on ecology and consumption. The first pole, which represents around 15% of the population, mainly groups together the most advantaged socio-professional categories (CSP +). They are already engaged in the process of “eating better” and urging public decision-makers to accelerate the ecological transition.

→ ANALYSIS. In France, the economic recovery is taking shape in a “bird’s wing”

The second is that of the middle and popular classes, who are not insensitive to ecology, but consider, given their standard of living, that they are not the first responsible. Finally, there is a “soft belly”, which brings together about 50% of the population, torn between the two tendencies.

These entrepreneurs who are launching in the time of the Covid

This polarization is likely to increase. For the middle and working-class classes threatened by social plans, the contradiction between declining purchasing power and a “desire to purchase” which remains the same will become critical. They remain in fact attracted by consumption, which has replaced religions and ideologies. This can be summed up by the formula “I am what I can afford”.

In this context, any injunction from the first pole or from the public authorities to adopt more virtuous behavior will be badly lived. The government will have to “at the same time” take into account these contradictory aspirations and the concerns of business leaders at the head of faltering structures. “

“Supporting the acceleration of the digital revolution”

Fabienne Dulac, Deputy Managing Director, CEO of Orange France

“The summer period was marked by a deterioration in several economic indicators, with a strong disparity within companies. In addition, as the health risk persists, they are forced to provide flexible work organization, with greater emphasis on teleworking.

→ ANALYSIS. Digital, the big winner of containment

The telecoms sector, even if it has suffered impacts on some activities, such as roaming (process for using a mobile plan abroad, Editor’s note) for example, was more spared than others. Today, we must adopt a solid work organization, whatever the pandemic context, which could last six months, a year.

Our goal is to support all our customers during this acceleration of the digital revolution. The need for equipment is very strong. For individuals, to whom it is advisable to continue to provide fiber, particularly in rural areas; but also in companies, from the smallest to the largest, which are pursuing their digital transformation.

The lockdown period had shown the ability of our networks to absorb peaks of activity, which could occur again in the months to come. We have simply increased vigilance in the supervision of these networks. In this back-to-school period, we are also mobilizing on our future challenges such as 5G (the fifth generation of mobile telephony, editor’s note), the transformation of our equipment, our infrastructures and the development of more responsible networks, that is to say less energy consuming. “

“The crisis has accelerated certain trends”

Hervé Navellou, CEO of L’Oréal France

“We came out of this very special period of confinement, marked in our case by the end of hairdressing salons and perfumeries. During the crisis, we observed quite strong variations in consumption from one product category to another. Makeup sales, especially lip products, fell sharply.

A decrease, however, offset by other sectors, such as hair coloring at home, or body care. Likewise, we have, logically, suffered from decreases in sales in certain channels, but e-commerce has accelerated sharply. It is a change that will remain in my opinion lasting.

For the future, I have several reasons to be optimistic: first, for the past two months we have been seeing much better levels of sales, signaling a recovery in consumption. On the other hand, the crisis has highlighted the particular role of companies in terms of solidarity. We have already distributed over two million bottles of hydroalcoholic gel, and last June launched our new “L’Oréal for the future” plan with very strong commitments by 2030 in terms of sustainable development.

Activity is gradually picking up, even if we still lack visibility. The crisis has turned the market upside down and accelerated certain trends, such as the desire for naturalness or more responsible consumption, which emerged before the epidemic. But the beauty sector retains all its potential. I’m not worried. “

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A summer school in a small format

The Medef will hold Wednesday August 26 and Thursday August 27, for the second consecutive year at the Parisian racecourse of Longchamp, its summer school in a reduced format because of the pandemic.

Among the speakers is the Prime Minister, Jean Castex, who will open the event, as well as most of the government heavyweights: Jean-Yves Le Drian (foreign affairs), Barbara Pompili (ecological transition), Élisabeth Borne (work), Bruno Le Maire (economy) and Olivier Véran ( health).

Political opposition will also be present, in particular with the president LR of the Association of mayors of France, François Baroin, the mayor PS of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, and the leader of Europe Ecology-The Greens, Yannick Jadot, all three “Potential candidates” in the 2022 presidential election.

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