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Monday, 7 December 2020

You’ll be back to pre-covid profit levels by 2022, an HSBC survey says

Egyptian businesses are starting to see through the covid gloom: Almost nine in 10 (89%) Egyptian businesses forecast revenue growth in 2021 and 83% expect their bottom lines to return to pre-covid levels by the end of 2022, according to the results of an HSBC poll. The bank’s 2020 Navigator survey, which polled 209 firms across various sectors of the economy in September and October, suggest that the mood among Egypt’s private sector is beginning to improve after a tough year marred by the impact of the pandemic.

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A sense of “cautious optimism”: Despite the challenging conditions, more than three-quarters (76%) of respondents believe the outlook for their businesses will either improve or remain the same in the coming months, falling slightly from 88% in last year’s survey but higher than the global average of 67%.

Finally, that long-awaited return of capex spending? The vast majority of businesses (87%) plan to increase investment in 2021, 20 points higher than the global average and above the 83% of firms in the Middle East, North Africa, and Turkey (MENAT) that said the same. In Egypt, nearly 50% of businesses plan to increase investments by 5-20% and a quarter by more than 20%.

Where do you want to invest? The top priority areas are product innovation, marketing, and geographic expansion, respondents said.

Trade worries persist, but only in the short term: Half of firms say they believe the pandemic will continue to cast a shadow on global trade as we head into the new year, and around two-thirds feel that trading across borders has become harder over the last 12 months. Despite that, only 12% of the businesses said they have a negative view of the next 1-2 years.

Key growth drivers, risks: Businesses expect tech-enabled efficiencies, product innovation, and the ability to attract investment and access to funding as the top three growth drivers moving forward. Meanwhile, exogenous factors such as the resurgence of covid-19 or political uncertainty were cited as the primary obstacles to recovery.

Reshaping supply chains: Egyptian firms were more worried about supply chains than the global average, with 50% (compared to 39% worldwide) saying that an increase in cost is the main problem, followed by a lack of agile suppliers. However, more businesses have broadened rather than limited their overseas suppliers, with 38% anticipating that reshaping their supply chain will be key to improved future access to more markets abroad.

Egyptian companies are paying attention to sustainability: Almost all of the respondents (98%) think a focus on sustainability will generate sales growth and more than 80% have begun or have plans to set targets for ESG issues, higher than the global average.

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