Recipe for success

By Petra Ondrisakova and James Field

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Photto by Ines Mette

Bankruptcy is at an eight year low in the Netherlands and the city of Groningen is living proof of the recent statistics indicating nationwide economic recovery.

The city of Groningen is eager to take credit for this recovery. Two years ago in the city, Urban Planning would only allow limited buildings for restaurants and cafes per street, because of these rules it was more difficult to start a business

“The town was very quiet with lots of empty buildings in the city centre”, says Simon Poelstra, Groningen City Economics Advisor, “but we simplified the rules to allow more small business permits, and opened trading on Sundays, now the town is booming”.

Statistics may support these claims, Chamber of Commerce records show that between January 2014, when the trading and city planning rules were changed, and August 2016 when the CBS statistics were published, 1,544 new businesses were opened in Groningen, with only 28 declaring bankruptcy or failing.

Whilst bankruptcy was down, consumer spending was up, with Dutch hotels and restaurants performing particularly well, according to the Central Bureau for Statistics (CBS) who published the stats last month.

“It was a struggle in the beginning, we had a budget and it was difficult to find investors for a small company, but we found a great location and got the permits we needed from the city”, says Brian Seip, owner of MasMas, a coffee shop that opened last year in Groningen.

“There are 23 other cafes on this street alone, the town is very busy, competition is very fierce but we found our niche”, says Brian.

In the month of August CBS recorded only 20 bankruptcies filed in the Accommodation and Food industries across the Netherlands, which, they say, is an area performing above average for the EU.

Its unknown whether this positive trend will continue, but Mr Seip of MasMas Cafe remains optimistic “we survived a year and we’re still going strong.”

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