Press release

KVK alerts: Increase in number of businesses closed down, number of startups in construction dropped; installation sector growing

Over the past 10 years, the construction industry has grown from over 160,000 companies (self-employed professionals, SMEs, and large companies) to over 280,000 businesses on 1 July 2023. This is mainly due to the sharp rise in the number of self-employed workers. However, the second quarter of this year saw lower growth in the number of startups for the first time since early 2021: only +4% in Q2 2023 compared to Q2 2022. In 2022 and the first quarter of 2023, the increase compared to the same quarter the year before had always been around 10%. There was also an increase in the number of quitters (+15% in Q2 2023 compared to Q2 2022). Nonetheless, 8,887 construction companies started up in the past quarter and 2,985 quit.

"Construction output is stagnating, especially in new housing construction, partly due to high interest rates and nitrogen regulations. This stagnation is temporary and is causing construction companies to choose to retain their own staff and make less use of flexible workers, including zzp'ers," said Jaap van de Burgt, policy adviser on labour market & social affairs at Bouwend Nederlands, the trade association of construction and infrastructure companies. "We expect employment to pick up in the medium term, in line with construction output. With this, the number of self-employed workers in this sector will also increase again."

The number of self-employed workers in construction is still very high: on 1 July 2023, 78% of companies in the construction sector were self-employed professionals without employees. Only in the following sectors is that share of zzp’ers higher:

  • Other (86%) - mainly education, such as tutoring, sports and recreation education, business training, arts education, and car and motor driving schools;
  • Personal Services (85%);
  • Culture, sports, and recreation (83%).

The share of self-employed workers within the total group of construction startups is even higher; over the past decade, it has increased from 82% (2013) to currently 90%.

Geographically, it is notable that, while the Netherlands as a whole has seen a weaker growth in the number of construction startups, there is actually a sharp increase in the northern provinces and that of Zeeland. Groningen +39%, Friesland +33%, Drenthe +29%, Zeeland +23%.

Development of number of starters in the construction sector Q2 2023 compared to Q2 2022

The Netherlands as a whole has seen a less strong growth in the number of construction startups. On the contrary, the northern provinces and Zeeland show a sharp increase. Groningen +39%, Friesland +33%, Drenthe +29%, Zeeland +23%. Plus: Overijssel +7%, Gelderland +12%, Flevoland +9%, Utrecht -5%, Noord-Brabant -6%, Limburg +9%, Noord-Holland -7%, Zuid-Holland +5%.


Energy transition and fibreglass seem decisive for growth

It seems that the energy transition and the construction of fibreglass and power grids are determining the bit of growth that is taking place within the sector. The strongest increases in the number of startups in the construction sector can be found in the installation sector: electronic building installation (+49%, 1,124 startups, up to a total of 20,445 on 1 July 2023), laying of electricity and telecommunication cables (+17%, 516 startups, up to a total of 6,402 on 1 July 2023), Installation of heating and air conditioning equipment (+22%, 272 startups, up to a total of 7,462 on 1 July 2023).

"In the 'energy' and 'underground cables and pipes' subsectors, there is a lot of work. There are fewer obstacles there than in housing construction, for example. For instance, nitrogen issues, mortgage interest, and licensing," says Jaap van de Burgt.

The information in this post comes from the KVK Trend report Q2 2023 (in Dutch).