Record number of enterprise births in 2019

© CBS
In 2019, over 207 thousand new enterprises were established in the Netherlands, 23 thousand more than in the previous year. The number of enterprise births within one year has never been this high. Just as in previous years, most new businesses were seen in the specialised business services sector, followed by the trade and construction sectors. The number of enterprise deaths was also higher than in 2018, but on balance the Dutch enterprise population expanded. On 1 January 2020, the Netherlands counted 1.85 million enterprises in operation. Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports this based on newly released figures.

With over 15 thousand newly founded companies, webshops account for more than half of enterprise births within the trade sector. The number of new webshops almost doubled compared to 2018; for the first time in ten years, management consulting firms do not form the largest group among newly established enterprises.

Enterprise births (x 1,000)
Bedrijfstak2019*2018
Specialised
business services
41.538.0
Trade27.721.9
Construction22.920.2
Health care and welfare20.217.9
Education14.112.3
Leasing and other
business services
12.010.2
Culture , sports and recreation11.410.8
Information and communication11.310.4
Other services10.09.9
Financial services8.98.6
Accommodation and food services8.06.1
Transport and storage7.26.3
Manufacturing6.25.5
Agriculture, forestry
and fishing
3.33.2
Renting, buying
and selling real estate
2.42.3
* provisional figures

More enterprise deaths

In 2019, more than 115 thousand companies were dissolved. This represents an increase of 8 percent on the previous year. The number of company dissolutions is also the highest since 2015. Only agriculture recorded a lower number in 2019 compared to 2018. In absolute terms, the largest increase in enterprise deaths was seen in the specialised business services sector (+1,895). These mainly concerned holdings and management consulting firms (+740), and design, photography and translation agencies (+680).

The education sector recorded 19 percent more dissolutions than in 2018. With 25 percent more terminations, companies providing study guidance contributed significantly to this.

Industries with relatively many dissolved companies are postal and courier services (11 percent of enterprise deaths in 2019) and other business services (9 percent, among which many call centre dissolutions). In the trade sector, webshops show the highest enterprise death rate, namely 1 in 9.

On balance, the enterprise population grew most rapidly in the specialised business services sector. A total of 17,965 companies were added here. These are mainly holdings and management consulting firms (+7,370). Substantial growth was also seen in the construction sector, with 14,270 companies added on balance.

Enterprise deaths (x 1,000)
Bedrijfstak2019*2018
Specialised
business services
23.521.6
Trade19.118.4
Health care and welfare9.17.7
Construction8.68.0
Financial services7.87.3
Information and communication6.76.2
Leasing and other
business services
5.95.3
Education5.95.0
Accommodation and food services4.23.9
Transport and storage3.63.2
Manufacturing3.43.2
Agriculture, forestry
and fishing
2.42.7
Renting, buying and selling
real estate
1.71.6
* provisional figures

Again many new sole proprietorships

The majority of companies are classified under the legal form natural persons. Under this form, one or more persons are severally liable for the company’s obligations and expenses. A company may also be set up as a legal entity, which means the company itself is regarded as a ‘person’ in legal terms. In 2019, nearly 159 thousand sole proprietorships were founded, i.e. over three-quarters of the total number of start-ups and the most prevalent form among natural persons. Since 2007, sole proprietorships have constituted the largest group among starting companies and this group’s share in the total enterprise population has increased continuously.

On 1 January 2020, two-thirds of all companies were sole proprietorships, versus slightly over 50 percent in 2007. In this period, the number of sole proprietors nearly doubled from 568 thousand to over 1.2 million. The population of private limited liability companies, the most common form among legal persons, rose from 125 thousand to almost 370 thousand.

Enterprise population in the Netherlands, 1 January (x 1,000)
JarenSole proprietorshipsOther natural personsPrivate companies (BV's)Other legal persons
2007522.7179.8243.341.6
2008597.3177.8270.641.8
2009649.6181.1283.939.9
2010692.7194.4285.442.1
2011754.0189.4292.142.2
2012803.8192.5302.243.0
2013822.5195.3304.543.2
2014857.2191.9309.542.9
2015913.0195.5316.643.2
2016967.2198.6326.743.4
20171010.6198.7333.844.2
20181070.5202.8347.245.2
2019*1139.5205.4358.151.7
2020*1222.5208.8368.651.3
* provisional figures