It’s been 4 years since we last looked at the top 30 Japanese employers in France. Much of what was true four years’ ago is true today. The top 30 partly reflects France’s traditional strengths, at least in Japanese minds, of food and drink, fashion, beauty and imaging technology – with Ajinomoto and Suntory still in the top 30 along with Shiseido, Fast Retailing (Uniqlo, Princesse Tam Tam and Comptoir des Cotonniers), Canon, Ricoh, Toshiba and Konica Minolta.
The automotive sector is still a big employer, as you might expect with Toyota having a plant in Onnaing making the Yaris, and Nissan having some of its models made by Renault, supplied by NTN, JTEKT and Nidec.
Some of the new entries are in the pharmaceuticals sector, including Taisho Pharma, who acquired UPSA from Bristol Myers Squibb in 2018 and Otsuka who have grown and made several acquisitions since they bought Nutrition et Santé in 2009.
SoftBank is still in the Top 30 as they have a substantial number of employees via ARM, which they still have not managed to get approval to sell. They have also said they are cutting half of the staff in France who were working on robotics, including the not very popular Pepper, brought in with their acquisition of Aldebaran in 2012 and may be planning to sell it to a German company.
According to our estimates, France is still the third largest base for Japanese company employees in the European region, with 76,000 employees. This is still less than half the employees of Japanese companies in the UK (176,000) or Germany (167,000) however. Around 60% of these employees are working for the top 30 largest Japanese employers (see below).
The largest employer is Toyota Tsusho, (the trading sister company to Toyota Motor) who shot to the top of the rankings after their acquisition of French company (with a major presence in Africa), CFAO in 2016. Nidec have also become a substantial presence in France thanks to their acquisition of Leroy-Somer, also in 2016.
The most recent acquisition in France by a Japanese company is Nippon Paint‘s acquisition of Cromology, Europe’s fourth largest architectural paints manufacturer. The acquisition was done via a new UK based company, DGL International, which is in turn owned by the DuluxGroup, an Australian paints company acquired by Nippon Paint in 2019. Nippon Paint sees this acquisition as a way of accessing markets across Europe, particularly France, Spain, Italy and Portugal, and then into Central European countries.
Up until now France has hosted far fewer regional headquarter companies than the UK or Germany. Perhaps these recent acquisitions show the start of a trend towards France becoming a base for Japanese companies to expand into the wider EMEA region.
We have received some more recent data regarding Hitachi’s employee numbers in France, following their acquisition of ABB Power Grids and JR Automation and other growth, so have updated the Top 30 for France accordingly. We welcome such updates so please do get in touch if you think we are missing something.
You can download the (updated) Top 30 Japanese employers in France below:
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