National craft week: the success of know-how?

According to the regional CMA, there are 221,000 registered craft businesses in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes (37,200 in Isère – 43,700 in Rhône – 19,700 in Loire), an increase of 39% in five years (+45 % in Isère), for a turnover of €42 billion. Data appreciated by the president of the regional CMA, Vincent Gaud, who is not surprised, however. “This is very good news due to several factors, some of which are very technical, such as the emergence of the micro-enterprise tax system that facilitates incorporation. We also note that nearly 43% of creators are under the age of 35. And that craftsmanship is becoming more and more feminine, as 31% of the makers are women. The dynamism of the sectors shows that there are still many craft businesses in construction: 33% in the region. We’re at 10% in manufacturing, which includes a lot of subcontracting, especially for industries. 29% in service industries (hairdressers, beauticians, auto repair, etc.) and 28% in food. Of course with specifics according to the departments. †

Still according to the observation of the regional CMA, the trend and the love for crafts has intensified since 2020 due to the pandemic, increasing the interest of citizens for local products, for responsible and more ecological consumption, and worldwide, for a local economy .

That is also the view of Hugues Poissonnier, professor of economics at the Grenoble School of Management. “There is an appetite of people who want to become craftsmen, but also a taste of customers. They have a stronger requirement for products made locally with materials that respect the environment, which have not been to the planet three times. Quality products that we are less likely to throw away. It’s a real consumer trend which means the outlets are there. And for those who are starting out, we note the desire for independence. The fact that we leave an organization and its hierarchy to make the decisions we consider the best, even if it’s not comfortable every day. There are those who go the other way, who were craftsmen and who decide to join an organization to promote peace in the labor market. In recent years, the trend has indeed been towards craftsmanship. And since there are opportunities in many sectors, this explains this quite strong increase. If the customer is guided by his values ​​in his choice, so will the craftsman, who decides what he wants to improve when setting up a shop. Independence allows you to be consistent with your values. †

A speech that certainly resonates in the spirit of Elsa Drigny, craftsman in screen printing on objects, who launched her activity in Lyon last year (read elsewhere). “My grandparents were cabinetmakers and seamstresses respectively, and I’ve always appreciated that creative side. But my parents preferred that I follow a general school stream. So I have a background in interior architecture and decoration. After that I worked on various assignments in this sector, then for more than eight years as a visual merchandiser in stores: I took care of the design of the stores and the decoration of the windows. Initially, this work was very creative. There was design, production and setup, but little by little the stores became standardized, leaving less and less space for my creative mind.” she explains. At the same time, a health problem caused him to partially lose his hearing. “Being hard of hearing has bothered me professionally. I worked for a very large prêt-à-porter group and could no longer find my place as an employee with a work disability. Until I got the feeling that I couldn’t go on anymore, and had to start working with my hands again. To make. †

Professional or micro-entrepreneur?

Christian Rostaing, President of the CMA de l’Isère, shares the observation of the enthusiasm for crafts, but qualifies. “Those who start out of passion usually have gone through an apprenticeship and then have been employed by a craftsman. They follow the “classic” route. The creators of micro-enterprises are people who decide to “just go” from the payroll world to creation. We fought for the micro-enterprise to have a limited duration before we could have a company in its own name, in EURL… To have a status, to contribute. Because if we don’t declare, we don’t contribute, and that can be problematic later on, especially before retirement.[…] When setting up your company, you have the impression of being autonomous, of creating something. The concern is whether it will last over time. †

Indeed, explains the president of Isère, artisans face several stages that can question the sustainability of their business. 40% of companies do not reach the three-year milestone. In the first year it owes a fixed contribution. Second, there is catching up from the first year. Income should not be confused with profit. For the micro-enterprise, the obstacles are different because they are billed on what they declare. But it has the disadvantage that the VAT is not reclaimed. So when a vehicle or equipment is bought, it can be tough to finance. Fiscally, these are things to study. †

In connection with its environment

According to the CMA Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Observatory, the creation of micro-enterprises will increase by 105% between 2016 and 2021. A fad that results in the average number of employees per craft enterprise falling – which stands at 1.5 today – micro-enterprises that hire very little. According to the same observatory, in the same period, despite the economic crisis, the number of companies deregistered has been increasing for five years, but the total stock of companies is also much larger. To pass the various tests, the craftsmen had to be resilient. Like all companies, those who have resisted the most are those who have been able to invest time and money in the organization of human resources (implementation of innovative organizational forms), the use of digital solutions or ecological transition. This is also explained by the chairman of the regional chamber. “The craftsmanship has managed to keep up with the times. There are many new professions related to ecological transformation, digital transformation… Craftsmanship can exert a reactivity that depends only on the person carrying out the project. There are many new companies around mobility, bicycles, repair for example. But also around the recycling of materials”, says Vincent Gaud. “The craftsman is anchored in his time as in the economic ecosystemWhen a manufacturer outsources the industry, it is because craftsmanship is always present in the ETI ecosystem. Without these small businesses, ETIs don’t move forward. †

GEM professor Hugues Poissonnier goes further by emphasizing that companies and governments should show solidarity with artisans. “Customers have a responsibility. The enthusiasm of individuals for the local is important, but the clients must have the will to be responsible players in the economic ecosystem. Public contracts can be subdivided: by dividing a large contract into several lots, an appeal can be made to SMEs, VSEs and craftsmen. This solution reflects the desire of public actors to make the local ecosystem work. Likewise, private actors have a responsibility to pay artisans relatively well, allow them to make decent margins, and pay them quickly enough not to risk running into cash flow problems. †

Anticipating the future

With apparently bright days ahead, don’t forget craftsmanship – anchored in its time and in its territory – to prepare for the future. Especially since the CMAs are also responsible for educating students. “The rooms are the first trainers in France. In Aura, there are 22,700 apprentices in the CFAs, and thus in the craft businesses. It’s part of our DNA. There is no finer social lift than craftsmanship. We take a young person, and regardless of his level of education, we integrate him into a profession and we pass on a know-how to him” welcomes Vincent Gaud.

On Isère’s side, President Rostaing recalls that at the Bourgoin-Jallieu EFMA, a training center in direct management, the pupils who were 800 a few years ago are now 1200. “We are building next door to accommodate more students. Apprenticeships are a path to excellence that is no longer considered a side track. You can start with a CAP and participate in the competition for the best employee in France. The employment rate is 95%. The students of today are the employees of tomorrow and the buyers of our companies. It’s a chain. †

A chain that is indeed easy to maintain. For if the figures of creation are encouraging, those of recovery are more concerned Vincent Gaud, who regrets that circumstances do not always encourage transference. However, in the next five years, 42,300 regional craft businesses will be transferred, of which 21% of the craftsmen are over 55 years old. “It’s a real topic. Maybe even a concern. These are gestures, sometimes ancestral. The transmission is important to keep trades, which always turn out to be in line with the times. This figure is huge, it is a huge project, because setting up a business is good, but we must not forget what others have created over many years, for example in the arts and crafts or traditional crafts. Today it is easier to create than to send. A bank lends more easily to the business plan of a company that does not exist than to a company that has debt. That’s the real problem, which we’re working on a lot with the banking networks. Make it clear to people that in acquisitions we already have a customer base, a local footprint… The success rate is much higher when you take over than when you create. Almost half of the established companies no longer exist after five years. This rate is much lower when you take over, even though there are tax costs associated with the takeover. But employees, equipment, customers and start-up orders: it is priceless. Not to mention that all craftsmen strive to ship.

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