France composites supply chain
France’s manufacturing has declined as a percent of GDP. Yet many of France’s remaining industries, such as aerospace and pharmaceuticals are still world leaders and receptive to foreign partners and suppliers.
The composite market is driven mainly by France’s most innovative sectors such as transportation (automotive and trucks), building and construction, electronics and electricals, consumer goods, pipes and tubes, wind energy, aerospace and marine. Many of the companies who work or perform research with composites are located within a “pôle de compétitivité,” or a cluster dedicated to a specific sector and located in one region of the country.
Of the 71 clusters in France, 24 are directly or indirectly involved with composites. Each cluster is comprised of large enterprises, SMEs, research centers, training organizations, and partner companies many of which are receptive to partnerships with U.S. companies. The sectors represented are aerospace, biochemistry, energy, materials engineering, and transport, with the latter two being the most common. Below are the most active French clusters in the composites market:
France has developed an expertise in composites reinforced with natural fibers. The association FiMaLin oversees the promotion of bio-composites. The prevailing manufacturing method in France is SMC/BMC is favored for its high production rate capabilities, required especially in the automotive sector.
Advantages of the French market:
- An educated workforce with first-class universities.
- Sophisticated financial markets, strong intellectual property protections, and innovative business leaders.
- World-class infrastructure, including high-speed passenger rail, maritime ports, extensive roadway networks and public transportation.
- The ninth largest global market for foreign direct investment (FDI).
- 17th in the world in terms of global competitiveness
There are several main players within the market, under four subcategories.
1) In raw materials, the main players are Arkema, Hutchinson and European Composites and Technologies.
2) In prototyping and software, ESI Group, Safran, and Altair are the main players.
3) In manufacturing equipment, the main players are Coriolis Composites, Dassault Systèmes and Fives.
4) Finally, the industrial leaders in transportation are Plastic Omnium, Faurecia, PSA Groupe, Renault, and SNCF.
The aerospace industrial leaders are Safran, Airbus, Dassault Aviation and Thales Systèmes Aeroportes. The marine industrial leaders are Bénéteau and Naval Group.
U.S. companies looking to expand in the French market should consider the following method: - finding a partner – opening an office in Europe – acquisition of a French SME – joint-venture partnerships.