Two of France’s 10 largest export companies operate in the automotive industry. Another pair of huge French manufacturers from the construction materials sector also rank among the country’s top 10 product exporters.
To give some international trade perspective on the selected companies’ performance, the overall value of French exported goods increased by 0.3% from US$566.7 billion in 2014 to $568.4 billion during 2018. From 2017 to 2018, France’s exports appreciated by 8.6%.
In the analysis below, we compare 10 of France’s top exports-oriented companies based on asset values, sales and profitability as of December 2018. Also presented is the French city where each business has its headquarters.
France’s Top 10 Major Export Companies
Below are some of France’s biggest export companies organized by asset value. Shown within parentheses is the primary industry in which each company operates. Also shown is the change in asset value as of December 2018 compared to 2017.
- Total (oil, gas): US$257 billion, up 11.3% from 2017
- Renault (car/trucker maker): $132 billion, up 22.6%
- Sanofi (pharmaceuticals): $119.9 billion, up 8.6%
- Christian Dior (clothing, accessories): $87.4 billion, up 28%
- Peugeot (car/trucker maker): $69.8 billion, up 44.8%
- Danone (processed food, drinks): $53.2 billion, up 14.8%
- Saint-Gobain (construction materials): $51.5 billion, up 11.5%
- Schneider Electric (electrical equipment): $47.9 billion, up 8.6%
- L’Oreal Group (household, personal care): $42.4 billion, up 12.8%
- Hermès International (clothing, accessories): $8.1 billion, up 5.2%
All of these large French multinationals grew their asset values from 2017 to December 2018 led by Peugeot (up 44.8%), Christian Dior (up 28%), Renault (up 22.6%) then food and beverage seller Danone.
Single-digit improvements in asset size belong to Hermès International (up 5.2%), Sanofi (up 8.6%) and Schneider Electric (up 8.6%).
Sales is the life blood of most businesses, and particularly for firms that compete in international trade. Five of France’s largest exports-oriented companies posted double-digit gains in their year-over-year sales as of December 2018.
- Total: US$155.8 billion, up 21.6% from 2017
- Peugeot: $73.6 billion, up 23.1%
- Renault: $66.3 billion, up 16.9%
- Christian Dior: $49.3 billion, up 12.8%
- Saint-Gobain: $46 billion, up 6.5%
- Sanofi: $39.5 billion, up 5.6%
- L’Oreal Group: $29.4 billion, up 2.8%
- Schneider Electric: $27.9 billion, up 2.2%
- Danone: $27.8 billion, up 14.5%
- Hermès International: $6.3 billion, up 0.4%
Posting the strongest increase in year-over-year sales was automaker Peugeot (up 23.1%) followed by energy sector competitor Total (up 21.6%), another automotive sector player Renault (up 16.9%), food and drink processor Danone (up 14.5%) then fashion icon Christian Dior (up 12.8%).
Among the remaining top companies garnering single-digit gains, the three laggards were Hermès International (up 0.4%), Schneider Electric (up 2.2%) and L’Oréal Group (up 2.8%).
Nine of France’s top major export companies managed to remain profitable as of December 2018.
- Total: US$8.4 billion, up 35.5% from 2017
- Renault: $5.8 billion, up 52.6%
- Sanofi: $4.3 billion, down -17.3%
- L’Oreal Group: $4.3 billion, up 26.5%
- Danone: $2.8 billion, up 47.4%
- Christian Dior: $2.5 billion, up 25%
- Schneider Electric: $2.4 billion, up 26.3%
- Peugeot: $2.2 billion, up 15.8%
- Saint-Gobain: $1.8 billion, up 20%
- Hermès International: $1.4 billion, up 1%
Accelerating its profits at the fastest pace from 2017 to December 2018 was automaker Renault thanks to its 52.6% gain in black ink year over year. In second place was Danone (up 47.4%) trailed by oil and gas player Total (up 35.5%).
The sole decliner was global pharmaceuticals supplier Sanofi which experienced a -17.3% drop compared to 2017.
Six of France’s top 10 major export companies have their headquarters located in the capital city of Paris, with two other mammoth companies based in the nearby community of Courbevoie.
- Christian Dior: Paris
- Danon: Paris
- Hermès International: Paris
- L’Oreal Group: Paris
- Peugeot: Paris
- Renault: Boulogne-Billancourt
- Saint-Gobain: Courbevoie
- Sanofi: Paris
- Schneider Electric: Rueil-Malmaison
- Total: Courbevoie
Note: Some of the above company offerings may include products other than the principal category shown within parenthesis under the Assets tab.
For example, Schneider Electric sells industrial engineering equipment, minerals, metals, food and beverages. The company also provides automation, control and cooling services as well as data centers and water treatment.
See also France’s Top 10 Exports, France’s Top 10 Imports and France’s Top Trading Partners
Data.World Forbes Global 2000 2016 , Spreadsheet for 2016 Global 2000 rankings. Accessed on October 10, 2019
Forbes Global 2000 individual company profiles, Example of top French company compiled for this study: Total. Accessed on October 10, 2019
Forbes Global 2000 rankings for France, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on October 10, 2019
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on October 10, 2019
Wikipedia, Category: Companies of France. Accessed on October 10, 2019
Wikipedia, List of companies of France. Accessed on October 10, 2019