Normandy is synonymous with cider and camembert… But also with latest-generation electric motors, high-tech cables, flu vaccines and huge wind turbine blades. Renowned for its diversity and vitality, Normandy’s manufacturing industry is a cornerstone of the regional economy, ensuring that the “Made in Normandy” brand is recognised globally, paving the way for the future.

Manufacturing in Normandy: key figures

  • Over 200,000 jobs (17% of salaried employment in Normandy)
  • 14,000 companies, including 45 with more than 500 employees
  • 10 government-accredited specialised manufacturing areas

A traditional industry with a major impact on the regional economy

In Normandy, manufacturing is not just our bread and butter–it’s our pride. Often associated with agricultural production, the region actually boasts a diverse array of manufacturing industries, reflecting its rich history and geographical diversity.

Initially dedicated to textile production of wool and cotton, manufacturing in Normandy diversified with the arrival of the industrial revolution. Taking advantage of the extensive port infrastructure (Le Havre, Rouen) and the proximity to Paris, many factories set up permanent sites in Normandy. As a result, even in the present day, the region is still home to a wide range of manufacturing industries (automobile, aeronautics,energy,pharmaceutical,and cosmetics), as highlighted in a study from the Skills & Industries Commission (Nov. 2021).

Diversity is one of the biggest strengths of the manufacturing industry in Normandy, along with its variety of sectors, some of which overlap. For instance, logistics and metalworking make a direct contribution to some of the industry's major stakeholders.

Normandy: the French region with the highest percentage of its GDP from manufacturing

Normandy has managed to resist the wave of deindustrialisation that began in France in the late 1970s.The Manche department, in particular, has fared well thanks to its nuclear industry and its impressive network of small and medium-sized enterprises & industries.

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To this day, Normandy remains the French region that generates the most of its GDP from manufacturing, as the French Chamber of Commerce and Industry indicates.

Manufacturing accounts for 10-11% of GDP nationally, compared with 21% in Normandy, and as high as 23% in areas such as Dieppe. These statistics highlight Normandy's position as France's top manufacturing region.

Normandy’s 10 specialised manufacturing areas

Cotentin; Collines de Normandie; Caen la mer Industrie; Lisieux; Vallée d’Auge; Alençon; Axe Seine; Dieppe Côte d’Albâtre; Vallée de la Bresle; Pays de Bernay, de Conches, du Neubourg and du Sud de l’Eure: Normandy boasts 10 government-accredited specialised manufacturing areas, called “Territoires d’industries”. This label is intended as part of a national initiative to breathe new life into the manufacturing sector, identifying and boosting areas with a significant manufacturing heritage, with the current phase due to continue until 2027.

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Normandy, home to leading multinationals

Home to more than 14,000 businesses, Normandy hosts several of the world’s leading firms across a range of sectors. Firstly, in the food sector, companies have been founded or have established branches in the region to take direct advantage of the local agricultural produce. This is the case for companies such as Isigny Sainte-Mère, Danone and Nestlé.

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Prominent energy corporations are also established in the region, ranging from the nuclear sector (EDF, Orano) to the gas and oil industries (Total, Exxon, and Mobil). They exist alongside major players in aeronautics (ArianeGroup in Vernon), shipbuilding (Naval Group in Cherbourg) and the automobile industry (Renault, Stellantis and Volvo Truck). As France’s second-largest producer of medicines, the region is home to the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies, including Sanofi Pasteur, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Aptar Pharma, Unither pharmaceuticals and more.

An extensive network of subcontractors

The manufacturing industry in Normandy is underpinned by a vast network of subcontractors, renowned for their expertise. They represent around 57,000 small and medium-sized businesses & industries in Normandy, and almost 500,000 salaried positions. The SOTRABAN business cluster unites more than a hundred of them.

In Normandy, the power of our industrial subcontracting firms stems from their specialised knowledge and complementary skills. These companies are familiar with each other and adept at combining their expertise to address bid requests effectively. This collaboration offers substantial added value to contractors.

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Manufacturing in Normandy: a significant source of jobs

Since 2021, Normandy has been benefiting from the widespread economic upturn within the French manufacturing sector. According to INSEE, the number of new manufacturing companies in the region reached its highest level for 10 years in 2022, with 2,800 new companies.

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Salaried employment is following the trend, with jobs opening up in all sectors. The chemical, pharmaceutical and metal industries created the most jobs in 2022 (+800 in one year), followed by the energy sector (+400) and the food industry (+300). According to France Travail, 204,100 people in Normandy were employed by the manufacturing sector in the 2nd quarter of 2023.

While employment in the manufacturing sector is found throughout the region, four zones account for half of all manufacturing jobs: Rouen, le Havre, Caen and Cherbourg-en-Cotentin. With its 600 new manufacturing jobs created in 2022, the Manche department accounts for more than a third of employment in Normandy’s manufacturing industry.

Workers and engineers: Normandy’s manufacturing industry is waiting for you!

Normandy has several major developments in the pipeline, including offshore wind farms, the EPR, and the world’s largest plastics recycling plant, among others. Along with the planned retirements of 29,000 employees over the next seven years, the already substantial recruitment demands of the region’s manufacturing sector are expected to grow even more in the near future.

Given these circumstances, there is a demand for a wide range of professionals, including welders, boilermakers, production line operators, machining and valve experts, maintenance technicians, and specialists in electrical engineering and automation. And while both workers with different levels of skills are the most sought-after, engineers and new industrial data scientists are equally in-demand.

 

Jobs in Normandy

Normandy’s leading manufacturing firms: committed to low carbon emissions

Aware of the need to reduce their carbon emissions for the sake of climate change and the cost of energy, Normandy’s manufacturers are preparing for the future. The chemical and petrochemical industries are leading the way, with the support of France Chimie Normandie.

In addition to the many company-owned projects that are springing up across the region, there is also an increasing number of collaborative initiatives. They include:

  • A carbon dioxide collection facility in Le Havre
    Under the guidance of the Synerzip and Incase associations, in collaboration with HAROPA PORT, five industrial conglomerates in Le Havre (namely Air Liquide, Boréalis, Esso, Total Energie, and Yara International) are in the process of establishing a facility for CO2 capture and storage. Their goal is to work together to collect 3 million metric tonnes of CO2 each year by 2030. Research is currently under way, with a planned launch in 2027.
  • A low-carbon strategy for the Seine area
    In March 2023, the industrial associations Incase (Industrie Caux Seine), Upside (Boucles de Rouen) and Synerzip LH, in association with HAROPA PORT, won the “Low-Carbon Industrial Zones (ZiBAC)” request for projects. This programme from the French Environment and Energy Management Agency (ADEME) aims to support manufacturing zones in their ecological and energy transformation. The four organisations have joined forces to form the SOCRATE association (“group for collective & reasonable organisation of energy transition in the Seine Axis”), and will receive €7.3M in government funding to research the best strategy for achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.

Manufacturing in Normandy: a glimpse into the future

Low-carbon, digital, resilient, adaptable and self-sufficient: the future of manufacturing is taking shape in Normandy. A number of stakeholders are involved, including the Club Industrie du futur Normandie. This group was set up in early 2023 at the initiative of companies whose forward-looking vision of the manufacturing industry had been officially recognised on a national level. The companies present in Normandy include: Cotral Lab, Forvia, Normandise, Nutriset, Schneider Electric, Toshiba, Aptar Pharma, Bosch, CMN and Orano.

Normandy's manufacturing industry is aware of the transformation that it needs to undergo. And not only is it aware, it's also willing and ready for change, as demonstrated by the number of firms who have been officially recognised as "Vitrine de l’industrie du futur" (Industry Showcase of the Future). In this respect, Normandy is a step ahead of many other regions.

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This business consortium from Normandy already comprises about 20 members, each eager to exchange expertise and insights. Together, they aim to collaboratively shape the future of manufacturing across six key areas: digital transformation, carbon reduction, workforce organisation, business intelligence, operational performance and resilience.

A reference in the age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution

As our technological and digital tools change, the 4th Industrial Revolution is making headway in Normandy too. Driven by major decision-makers, the aeronautical and automotive industries have taken the lead in this area. The Renault plant in Cléon (Seine-Maritime) was the first in France to be recognised as a “Global Lighthouse” for the 4th Industrial Revolution by the World Economic Forum in 2019. The site, which will house production of the brand’s new electric motors from 2024, is already implementing a number of Industry 4.0 tools. These include sensors, Internet of Things, virtual reality, robotic smart carts, exoskeletons and 3D printing.

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Normandy doesn't just have one manufacturing industry, but many complementary ones. This sort of diversity is a great opportunity, because it allows innovations to cross over from one sector to another. Companies are sharing their knowledge and their professional experiences, joining together to move faster towards a 4th Industrial Revolution.

Analyses, preliminary projects, tests, identifying partners and public funding: the Pôle TES (Secure Electronic Transactions business cluster) cluster supports manufacturing companies, particularly the smallest, in these key stages of transformation — while staying one step ahead of the game. The business cluster is planning a new site on the Seine Axis, where regional manufacturing companies with a classified high level of risk could test the building blocks of the 5th Industrial Age under real conditions. Watch this space… 

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