Matthieu Ourliac, president of Medef Béziers: “Business leaders are worn out, worried, filled with doubts”

The president of Medef Béziers, takes stock of the two years of crisis faced by the leaders of Biterrois, constantly adapting to move forward.

Where are the business leaders of Biterrois, after these two years of crisis?

The health crisis, coupled with an economic crisis, has been hard on business leaders, who have been remarkably and historically well helped by the state to take the leap. But this period has, unfortunately, worn out the members. They have been constantly adapting to the context for two years.

How many are they ?

In Béziers, there are 400 members, mostly business owners. More than 500 counting all member federations.

Have there been any business closures?

No, because the companies have been very well supported by the State. We survived financially. Companies come out alive, of course, but morale is relative. The young companies had to support the employees seized with fear, worry and doubts.

They have sometimes accompanied them with periods of unemployment, changes in work mode with telework, then return to companies, etc. With all the psychological complications that can entail. And today, we are “re-entering” a new crisis, that caused by the war in Ukraine.

What are you afraid of?

This war will lead to an economic crisis that Medef considers important. So here we are, barely out of a heavy crisis than we are back in a crisis which, in my opinion, will be even more severe…

Why ?

Because the State will not be able to accompany us as it has done previously. Moreover, the Medef no longer claims “whatever the cost”. We know that we are entering this crisis which will combine the inflation of raw materials, a social crisis with wages which increase but not as they could be expected because the room for maneuver is not there. This is called “stagflation”.

With a completely uncertain market; a change in work and employment that has completely disrupted the business world; the potential lack of raw materials; the instability of order books. If, at a given time for example, there is no more steel on a site, it will no longer be able to progress, it will be technical unemployment, etc.

Is the war in Ukraine already impacting businesses in Biterrois?

On the Biterrois, there are sites that are put on hold, postponed, with serious supply difficulties. In wine, it’s the same. You have glass blowers, on certain glasses, which are only made in Central Europe and therefore this lack shifts the whole process of the bottling chain. These postponements of work impact the entire chain of subcontractors, personnel, the entire value chain.

And everything weighs on business leaders who will have to once again readjust their business, reinvent their economic models. It will concern all sectors by cascading effect. As in all crises, there will be winners and losers, but the majority of companies will be impacted.

What is your main message today?

I call on the families of business leaders, friends, loved ones… We must be vigilant with them, benevolent, attentive because a business leader is not going to say “I am not well”, “I am sick ‘ or ‘it’s not okay’…

This is why with the Medef, we are working with the AIST, occupational medicine, which would act as an entry point to organize a half-day “health check-up” for the manager. We are in the process of studying the methods of financing, what part we will pay, and so on.

Do you remain optimistic, despite everything?

Yes, because in this whole picture, there is a note of hope. We must be delighted with the European awareness, whether on the ideological or defense level. I think it’s a chance for Europe to exist between the different big blocks. There is also an awakening of consciences on what our president Geoffroy Roux de Bézieux calls economic sovereignty. We have to rethink “produce in France”.

Do you have any leads?

I throw a cobblestone into the pond: shouldn’t the mines be restarted? Not coal mines, but ores. Those used, among other things, in the materials essential to the ecological transition. We must ask ourselves the question of their reopening in Europe.

Medef is campaigning to regain economic sovereignty over the entire value chain: from the manufacture of components to the production of raw materials. Photovoltaic panels require silicon. And so we have to go get it, at home. The world of mining today is no longer Germinal.

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Matthieu Ourliac, president of Medef Béziers: “Business leaders are worn out, worried, filled with doubts”

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