In 2012 alone, 266 plants with 10 or more employees closed their doors for good. That figure represented a 42 percent increase in the number of closures, compared to the previous year, according to the report by Paris-based data analyst firm Trendeo.
Naturally, the closures have had an impact on jobs, with Trendeo reporting 24,000 losses last year alone and 120,000 since January 2009.
Explaining the reasons behind the decline, Trendeo’s David Cousquer told the Local that the strength of the Euro currency was a hindrance for France.
“The rising value of the Euro against the dollar certainly does not help,” he said. “It has risen 10 percent since July 2012 and it adversely affects the competitiveness of enterprises because it makes it more difficult for them to export their goods.”
Cousquer also notes that “France is not an island” and “external factors” are also at play, with the country’s industry wobbling at a time when Europe is in the grip of a financial crisis.
Although most areas of France’s manufacturing industry, including pharmaceuticals, have been bit by job cuts and closures, it is the country’s once mighty automobile sector that has taken the biggest hit.
Around half of the 24,000 jobs lost in 2012 were in the car-making industry.
And matters are only set to get worse it seems, with PSA Peugeot Citroën intending to cull 8,000 jobs. The restructuring project also includes plans to close down its historic plant to the north of Paris.
The plan to close PSA's Paris plant is currently on hold after a French court decided it wanted to review the proposals, but France’s Minister for Industrial Recovery, Arnaud Montebourg told French radio RTL on Tuesday that the closure of the plant was ultimately “unavoidable”.
“We have not found any other solution,” he said. “We don’t know what else we can do.”
The French government is asking PSA to ensure that the 3,000 workers at the factory be helped to find alternative employment elsewhere in the company.
In a further blow to the automobile industry, Renault recently revealed plans to cut 7,500 jobs across France, and tyre firm Goodyear also announced at the end of January that it would be closing its plant in Amiens.