2021 was a ‘record’ year in France for the industry in terms of factory creation, jobs or relocations, in particular in the leather and footwear sector, according to the dedicated Trendeo index published on Thursday, which nonetheless flags ‘alarming’ signals for 2022.
After a period of improvement (2013-2017) followed by a recession (2018-2020), factory production increased sharply in France in 2021 with a surplus of 120 new factories (176 establishments and 56 closures), says the economic data company. in its 2021 report titled “A Record Year” released Thursday night.
“It is still too early to talk about reindustrialization, but in 2021 we are seeing a recovery that the industry will not escape,” said Trendeo founder David Kusker, who fears a “slowdown” in 2022. “In 2012 and 2017, the other two election years, we saw that bad news, such as plant closures, were delayed until after the presidential election,” he warned, also listing “warning signs” for industrial activity: risk rising interest rates, inflation, supply disruptions. Another fragility of a movement that seems to have begun, “France is still missing from large industrial projects with more than 250 jobs, which are mostly in Eastern Europe,” noted David Kusker.
Last year, the relocation of companies, that is, the repatriation of production that French companies made themselves or hired abroad, “increased sharply” from 30 in 2020 to 87. “But in 2022 the intensity is falling,” Trendeo emphasizes. And most of the projects received financial support from the state as part of the economic recovery plan launched at the end of 2020.
The moves range from the Charlieu factory, which invested 22 million euros in the production of cloth shopping bags in the Loire, to the Frais Embal company in Morning (North), which repatriated salmon and white fish packaging, creating about twenty jobs through the laboratories of Maurice Messeguet, who relocated part of its production process, which has so far been outsourced, to Gers. Production NWL France, maker of Waterman pens, plans to relocate its operations from China to Saint-Herblain (Loire-Atlantique). The Weston shoe factory in Limoges (Vienna) is repatriating sneaker production from Portugal, creating 10 jobs. Thiolat, a food cartons company based in Blois, created 77 jobs.
Jobs created: close to digital
Overall, with 32,155 net jobs created in 2021, French industrial manufacturing performs almost as well as digital (33,535 net jobs created last year) and outperforms ten other manufacturing sectors studied by Trendeo, including services (+ 28,159 jobs), logistics (+ 14,593), shops (+4,350), energy and waste management (+2,467 jobs).
In industry, the leading sector in creating jobs last year was the leather and footwear industry. 5,513 new jobs were created in the leather goods sector following investments made by large groups such as LVMH, as well as groups working as subcontractors for major French luxury brands such as Arco in Vienna, Rioland in Indre or Tolomei in Sart. In second place, the food industry created 5,169 jobs, twice as many as in 2020, in Lactalis, Dulcesol, Vicky Food or Sodebo.
Electrical equipment, which was ranked number one last year due to large car battery projects, dropped to number 3 with 3,245 jobs announced, mostly in home appliances (Vorwerk, Brandt, Kippit) or hydrogen (McPhy). The auto industry posted 1,931 net jobs created last year thanks to investments from Stellantis, Trigano (converted vans), Safra (hydrogen buses) or Volvo, but failed to return to pre-crisis levels.
The aviation industry, hard hit by the COVID-19 crisis with a net loss of 12,000 jobs in 2020, could enter a recovery phase with 363 jobs created in 2021, identified by Trendeo among their equipment manufacturers and suppliers. Rank 1 (excluding suppliers of raw materials, metals, plastics, etc.).