Sophie Lubet, Director of the Comexposium Retail Business Unit
Thanks to sustained activity and recruitment which has been constantly rising for several years, the retail sector, both physical and online, has become a dominant force within the French economy.
The surge in On- and Off-line retail
The retail and distribution sector is one of the biggest employers in France (3.4 million people work in the retail sector, with an increase of 24 500 jobs at the end of 2015). France is creating and innovating more than ever before.
Over recent years, the structure of the sector has changed radically. Major groups have diversified their offer and multiplied their chain stores, further extending their regional coverage. Digital transformation has also resulted in the creation of new jobs, with new skills. Added to this is the watershed moment represented by the arrival of e-commerce and the explosion of online sales which has accelerated the phenomenon like never before. This has brought a welcome consequence for employment, logistics platforms having multiplied with an evolution in terms of jobs (from the supplier to the sale to customers, etc.). Major names in online retail have established a presence in France and opened warehouses. In 2016, Amazon announced the creation of 6 500 jobs. Carrefour, the biggest private employer in France, the second largest retailer in the world and the world’s 9th biggest private employer, created 350 new jobs as part of its digital development. Vente-privée, The Other Store, Cdiscount, Voyages-sncf.com are not to be outdone. While the digital and e-commerce sectors are recruiting massively, SMEs, microbusinesses and start-ups are also creating jobs.
Start-ups, a driving force of the French economy
The rise in employment is naturally linked to the resurgence of entrepreneurship in this sector. French start-ups raised 221 million euros in October 2016, following on from more than 288 million in September. We have cases of exemplary French companies whose strategies and concepts are particularly innovative in terms of physical and online sale processes and which are shaping the France and retail sector of today and tomorrow. Having become a driving force of the economy, these start-ups are continuing to develop and are veritable champions of innovation and digitalisation in the sector.
The French ex-unicorn Criteo, is pursuing its conquest with more than one billion euros of sales. The group is continuing to invest in technology and to recruit with more than 500 jobs created in one year. The company is also excelling on the international stage: after the American continent, it is now expanding in Asia Pacific. Like Criteo, BlaBlaCar, is a shining example of a daring and audacious French Tech. Showroomprivé, which has just celebrated its first year of being listed on the stock exchange, also typifies French success. FidZup, too, is getting itself noticed. As a viable alternative to Criteo for physical retail, the start-up has just raised 3 million euros. There are also newcomers from the sharing economy arriving on the scene, such as Click & Boat which has raised one million euros.
Retail is one of the flagship sectors of the French economy. Driven by a policy of innovation and a recognised French Tech brand, the sector is continuing to generate employment and to support the economy.