Turnover in France falls for first time in years

9th of December 2021 Article by Christian Bouzols
Turnover in France falls for first time in years

The French cleaning federation FEP has published its latest statistics on the contract cleaning sector, reports Christian Bouzols.

The French cleaning companies federation FEP has just published  its latest report on the sector. This document presents many figures and shows the general state of cleaning businesses in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic. It shows that the French cleaning sector now comprises some 13,700 companies, a figure that has increased by 5.4 per cent during the last five years.

Companies with fewer than 10 workers make up 64 per cent of the total. At the other end of the scale, 0.5 per cent of cleaning companies in France employ no less than 41 per cent of the labour force. These large businesses, 67 in number, all have more than 1,000 employees.

Family owned

Most of the cleaning companies in France are family owned businesses. They are often handed over from one generation to the next. This is also true of the very large companies in the sector, which are now operating on an European and even international scale. Most of them are still family managed.

The health and economic crisis which began in 2020 has led to a strong increase in the number of financially challenged businesses. In April 2020, at the start of the pandemic, five per cent of managers in the cleaning sector were fearing that their companies wouldn’t survive that crisis. But so far their fear hasn’t been reflected in the statistics.

In fact, the Bank of France has even reported that during the period from January 2020 to January 2021 the number of company failures had dropped by 35 per cent in the services to businesses sector. This can probably be explained by all the support measures that have enabled companies to defer the payment of various charges but may also just mean a postponement of insolvencies. This could in particular be the case of cleaning companies working for hotels, restaurants and event organisers.

Fall in employees

After more than 10 years of uninterrupted growth, and for the first time since the world economic crisis of 2009, the sector’s turnover fell by about four per cent in 2020, to €16 billion.  This has led to a slight fall, of approximately 1.6 per cent, in the number of cleaning employees in 2020. It was the first time such a thing had happened in many years.

Companies with turnovers under €500,000 are largely involved in office and building cleaning activities. As for the big companies, those with turnovers of €20 million or more, they are more heavily involved in work for industrial and commercial sites, for hotels, hospitals, schools and transport facilities.

In the French cleaning sector, 64 per cent of the workforce are women, and the mean age of all cleaning workers is 45. Almost half of these workers have several employers, as 68 per cent of cleaning employees have part-time jobs.

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