Working Capital Index Shows Strategic Deficit for European Middle Market Firms

European Growth Corporates have the second-highest rates of working capital usage, but use it inefficiently and could vastly improve.

Access to working capital enables all types of companies to avoid operational disturbances in the short term and to power growth for the long term. In Europe, 79% of Growth Corporates accessed working capital solutions in the last year. This was the second-highest usage rate across all five regions in the study.

73%: Share of top-performing European Growth Corporates using financing for planned growthThese European Growth Corporates reported that external financing is important for securing favorable cost of capital when prioritizing new business initiatives. Eighty-seven percent of local Growth Corporates pointed this out, and 86% said external working capital allows them to achieve favorable capital costs when choosing new partnerships.

Other key advantages of European Growth Corporates’ use of external financing include building better relationships with customers and partners. Seventy-five percent of European Growth Corporates stated that having access to working capital solutions helped them better meet customer demand.

These are some of the key findings detailed in “2023-2024 Growth Corporates Working Capital Index: Europe Edition,” a PYMNTS Intelligence and VISA collaboration. The report drew on insights from a survey of 195 Growth Corporates in Europe conducted between March 9, 2023, and June 12, 2023. We sought to understand the working capital solutions available to Growth Corporates, their preferred use of this capital, their 2024 plans and the impact of these solutions on operations and business performance.

45%: Share of top-performing European Growth Corporates planning to use virtual cards in 2024Other key findings from the report include the following.

Working capital loans play a particularly prominent role in Europe.

This is especially true for the fleet and mobility sector. Forty-percent of these Growth Corporates use working capital loans as their primary solution. The fleet and mobility industry’s high use of these loans and virtual cards likely mirrors their strategic investments in business expansion and company assets.

European agriculture Growth Corporates have a strategic focus.

17%: Share of agriculture Growth Corporates in Europe using external financing tacticallyUsing external working capital solutions for either strategic or tactical purposes can mean the difference between having operational efficiency and not. While 37% of commercial travel Growth Corporates in Europe, for example, used external solutions for tactical purposes, just 17% of agriculture Growth Corporates did so. European agriculture Growth Corporates were the most likely to tap these solutions for expected cash flow shortfalls.

Most top-performing Growth Corporates used financing strategically.

Although there are a small percentage of top-performing Growth Corporates in Europe, they operate similarly to top performers in other regions. These Growth Corporates focus on strategic, rather than tactical, use. For example, 100% of top performers in the commercial travel sector in our study tapped working capital for strategic growth.

Growth Corporates in Europe face various economic, financial and regulatory headwinds as they navigate a unique regional context where many countries share unified policies and currency. Although European Growth Corporates have the second-highest rates of working capital use, it is inefficient because they have a greater short-term focus. Nonetheless, there is great potential in the region.

Download the report to learn more about how European Growth Corporates are accessing working capital solutions.