The sports industry in France is said to account for 2.2 per cent of all employees ©Getty Images

A new study has sought to measure the size of the sports economy in France.

The study, published by the BPCE Group, a Paris 2024 sponsor, indicates that 112,000 sports-related enterprises generated combined turnover of €77.7 billion (£66.8 billion/$85.7 billion) in 2018.

These enterprises are said to account for some 333,000 jobs.

Once the 115,000 employed by the 360,000 French sports associations are taken into account, the sector is said to comprise 2.2 per cent of all French employees.

The number of businesses operating in the sector is reckoned to have approximately doubled in 10 years.

The picture presented is not altogether rosy, however.

When it comes to the manufacture of sports goods, the study notes that, as with French manufacturing in general, domestic companies are under pressure both from Asian imports and a loss of competitiveness in comparison with European rivals.

Having been the second-biggest exporter of sporting goods in the European Union (EU) in 2006, behind Italy, France had been relegated to fifth place by 2016, as a consequence of being overhauled by Germany, Belgium and The Netherlands.

France’s external trade balance in the sector is said to have deteriorated almost continuously over recent years.

The French market share of EU skiing equipment exports has fallen sharply since 2008 ©Getty Images
The French market share of EU skiing equipment exports has fallen sharply since 2008 ©Getty Images

According to the study, over the past decade France has lost market share in high-added-value areas such as skiing and sailing equipment where French exports have traditionally been strong.

For example, the French share of EU skiing equipment exports fell by almost half, from 21 per cent to 11 per cent, between 2008 and 2017.

At the same time, competition in low-added-value areas, such as textiles and sports shoes, is said to have intensified.

This extra competition is said to be coming both from eastern Europe and developing nations in south-east Asia and north Africa.

French domestic demand for such items was, however, constantly on the rise.

The 64-page document concludes that the sector has attained critical mass both in terms of its scale and the diversity of its activities.

Paris 2024 should help turn the sector into a “lever of development”.

The full study, in French, can be downloaded here.