Successful mix: large corporations and SMEs
North Rhine-Westphalia is regarded as the industrial heartland of Germany. Major global corporations alongside numerous small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) create a dynamic economic force. 18 of the 50 highest grossing companies have their headquarters in NRW, including Bayer, Bertelsmann, Deutsche Post DHL, Deutsche Telekom, E.ON, Metro, RWE, Rewe, and ThyssenKrupp. Besides these, approx. 751,000 SMEs primarily form the mainstay of the North Rhine-Westphalian economy. One of the largest medium-sized employers in NRW is the skilled trades with around 111,000 enterprises and more than one million employees.
Small but effective: North Rhine-Westphalia is the state of SMEs
Among the SMEs in NRW there is many a hidden treasure: Many of the medium-sized, often family-run companies are considered to be "hidden champions", publicly little-known companies with international success. They focus on closely defined market segments and offer in their respective niches highly specialized, customized products and services. These include market leaders in their industries such as Beckhoff Automation, a specialist in automation technology, HELLA, a leading global automotive supplier, or Saertex, a leading manufacturer of innovative composite materials.
Incidentally: One out of four German world markets leader is based in NRW. Top location for industry and services It is precisely this special mix of large corporations and SMEs that makes NRW the strongest industrial region in Europe and an ideal business location for manufacturers and suppliers. The Ruhr Metropolis in particular is home to large industrial enterprises of international standing as well as dozens of smaller companies that are leaders in their respective business segments.
Sales by industry in NRW
In 2015, North Rhine-Westphalian industrial enterprises generated sales of more than 334 billion euros – equivalent to 18.6% of total industrial sales in Germany. 18.1% of the workforce in NRW work in the industrial sector.
North Rhine-Westphalian industry is also economically successful in sectors closely related to industry
B2B service providers such as consultancies, engineering offices or IT and R&D service providers contribute a great deal to innovation and added value as business partners of industrial enterprises.
The strength of industry in NRW is based to a large extent on the strength of these industry-related service companies.
- 27.0% of sales generated by B2B service providers in the narrower sense in Germany come from NRW – more than from any other German state.
- NRW also heads the field in terms of employment figures: 25.7% of all persons employed in Germany in B2B services work in NRW.
- 22.3% of the companies are also based here. These figures are the result of a structural change which is also reflected in the gross value added of NRW. In 1970, 55.7% was generated in industry and only 42.3% in services; by 2016 this ratio had been more than reversed.
- In NRW, services dominate with 72.1% compared to industry with 27.6%.
- The number of persons employed in the service sector has increased by more than one million since 1970 to 7.0 million.
To the next location factor: 9. NRW offers excellent commercial sites and commercial real estate.
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The state of top performers
Discover the hidden champions and numerous top performers in North Rhine-Westphalia on the interactive map.