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Observatoire de la petite entreprise FCGA – Banque Populaire

The “tops” and “flops” of micro and small companies in 2016!

Sector by sector, profession by profession, the Observatoire de la petite entreprise (“Small Company Observatory”) provides an overview of the “tops” and “flops” of small craft, trade and service companies in 2016: an exclusive survey conducted by the Fédération des Centres de Gestion Agréés (FCGA, or “Federation of Approved Management Centers”) in partnership with Banque Populaire.


On the winners’ podium


This is the record of the year, all sectors and professions combined. Local shops specializing in the sale of household appliances, televisions and hi-fi equipment are at the very top of our annual list. With a 5.8% increase in annual sales, they are creating a surprise after a difficult year in 2015 (-2.7%). It is above all the dynamism of the small electrical household appliance market (juice makers, vacuum cleaners, food processors, etc.) that has boosted sales. Customer welcome, advice, and the quality of human relations: local stores skillfully exploit their natural assets to distinguish themselves from the large specialized brands and the hypermarket offering in this area.


The profession can offer a word of thanks to the electric bike! Over the past five years, the market has been driven by annual growth of 30 to 35%. In 2016, nearly 150,000 electric bicycles were sold according to ADEME and the Union des sports et du cycle (“Sports and Cycling Union”). For the 1,970 small French businesses specializing in the sale and repair of bicycles, this is a real boon. Estimated at €1.7 billion by the Observatoire du Cycle (“Cycle Observatory”), the market is expected to accelerate yet again in 2017 with the arrival of the €200 financial assistance promised by the French government for the purchase of an electric-assisted bicycle (decree published in the Official Gazette on February 18, 2017).


Seriously challenged in recent years by the development of alternative forms of urban transport and chauffeur-driven cars (VTC), the 60,000 taxi drivers operating in France still find themselves in a weaker position overall. However, those who provide transport services for sick people or people facing emergencies fare better than others. With a 1.8% increase in turnover (compared with a 2.4% decline one year earlier), ambulance-taxis returned to growth in 2016.
And also...
Car body shops (+1.5% vs. -0.3%), milk and cheese production (+1.3% vs. +0.4%), cleaning companies (+0.8% vs. +0.5%), laundries and dry cleaners (+0.6% vs. -2.5%), etc.


In the red


According to the National Federation of Real Estate Agencies (FNAIM), 850,000 transactions were recorded in France in 2016. A record since 2006! Stimulated by the fall in interest rates (which, however, have risen slightly since the end of last year) and a moderate rise in prices (but which could well increase dramatically if the economic recovery is confirmed), these sales do not benefit independent real estate agencies whose business activities have declined significantly.


This is the largest drop in Personal Goods business activities in 2016. In the 3rd quarter of the year, shoe retailers suffered a veritable collapse in their sales: -11.9%. This drop in revenue is mainly due to increased competitive pressure on traditional retailers from other market players: e-commerce sites, chain stores, shoe departments of ready-to-wear chains, sports stores, etc.

The profession collects flops... This is the third consecutive year that this sector has ranked among the worst performers of the year. Even though its average activity rate is improving compared to the two previous years (-7.8% in 2015 after a decline of 8.9% in 2014), it is going through a historical crisis. The commoditization of smartphones equipped with high-quality cameras combined with free image processing and instant sharing applications has dealt a severe blow to the activity of traditional studios.
And also...
Ready-to-wear (-4.0% vs. -3.9%), optics and eyewear (-3.4% vs. -1.1%), lingerie (-3.4% vs. -1.6%), masonry (-3.3% vs. -1.8%), etc.

  • Economic research
  • Banque Populaire