With a sound economic environment and very favourable external financing conditions, 2018 presents very positive figures from SMEs and ISEs based in France. Featuring a boom in business formations and private equity fund raising, plus a high level of SME involvement in public procurement and exports, the following is a situational analysis of French SMEs in 2018, accompanied by some key figures, all available to download free of charge.
SME 2019 – Overview of French SMEs and Intermediate-sized enterprises in 2018
Many countries have found it an economic and political necessity to have an overview of the SMEs. Here is the SME 2019 report, the Bpifrance SME Observatory’s fifteenth annual report on trends in SMEs and ISEs in France. It contains a wealth of economic and financial analyses of their developments in 2018, supported by data series covering the past five to ten years to better understand how their situation has changed over time.
- Analysing France’s commercial production fabric through the lens of “LME enterprises” highlights the high concentration of factors of production and their economic contribution. This concentration into 260 large enterprises and 5,700 ISEs is significant regardless of the metric used. The remainder is split between 3.8 million SMEs, of which just 150,000 are not micro-enterprises.
- In the non-agricultural commercial sector (excluding non-profits and the public sector too), 691,000 new businesses were formed in France in 2018, a figure up 17% on 2017 and a new record since the 2010 peak. As regards small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs, excluding micro-enterprises) and intermediate-sized enterprises (ISEs), the figure showed a 1.9% increase after four years of decreases, but remained under the 4,000 proceedings threshold below which SME-ISE business failures dropped in 2016.
- For the third year running, failures of micro-enterprises dropped in France, to 51,000, a level distinctly lower than the 53,000 seen in 2008.
- The working capital requirements and the operating financing needs of SMEs located in France grew by more than their turnover, being up 10.4% and 9.9% respectively, compared with 5.0% revenue growth. SMEs maintained a high level of operating cash flow consistent with their lower capital expenditure.
- The number of exporters of goods from France totalled 125,280 legal units, a 1.2% increase over 2017 after a decline for the previous two years.
- Financial 2018 saw a recovery, measured by both number and value of contracts, in SMEs’ share of public procurement (61% and 32%). SMEs’ numerical share of the contracts was consequently almost back to its 2015 level, and at its highest for four years.
- The European private equity market has tripled in size since 2009 to hit more than €80 billion of deals in 2018. Over the same period, the French market has almost quadrupled, from €4 billion to almost €15 billion invested. For the tenth year running, France held second place in Europe in terms of sums invested, mid-way behind the United Kingdom, and continued to hold the top position in terms of the number of businesses financed, ahead of the UK and Germany.
- Of the French SMEs and ISEs quoted on Euronext Paris at the end of 2018, 118 were family companies. They account for 24% of the value of listed SMEs and ISEs, and 31% of the total stock market capitalisation.
- The sluggishness in a large number of high-income countries, was not seen in France, where the already positive trend in 2016, when outstanding loans granted to SMEs climbed 3.6%, improved further in 2017 with a growth rate of 4.1%.
- Businesses based in France spent €33 billion on in-house corporate R&D in 2017, up 1.7% by volume, after a 1.6% rise in 2016. SMEs accounted for three quarters of businesses carrying out in-house R&D work, but only one fifth of the value of internal R&D expenditure, and one quarter of the corporate research workforce and of the researchers and R&D engineers employed on a full-time equivalent basis (FTE).
- In 2016, 25,300 businesses claimed a total of €23.0 billion of eligible expenditure in respect of Research tax credit overall, thereby generating a total aggregate receivable of €6.3 billion. 6,700 businesses based in France claimed expenditure under the innovation tax credit in 2016, a substantial increase from the introduction of this tax credit in 2013 (4,100). At €920m in 2016, the amount of innovation spending has more than doubled in three years.
- A total of 1,578 SMEs obtained patents using the national system in 2018, representing two-thirds of the privatesector enterprises. Micro-enterprises were the most numerous in this category at 593, equating to a quarter of private enterprises filing patents.
- 4,169 separate establishments belonging to 3,900 enterprises received a total of €199m in social security exemptions by virtue of their Young innovative start-up status (French fiscal scheme of the “jeune entreprise innovante”, JEI). The average exemption per JEI enterprise was €51k, up 4% compared with 2017.
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