Sub-contractors in Normandy are often family-run, always resilient and stand out for their diversity, specialist expertise and complementarity. That’s a real asset for important outsourcers, who have all the expertise they need to produce high standard goods locally. 

An essential cog in manufacturing

Nationwide, sub-contractors account for over 57,000 businesses and 550,000 jobs. There wouldn’t be any manufacturing without them, or at least, not fast enough. The industry is made up of a dense network of often family-run or long-standing local VSBs and SMEs all over Normandy.

Outsourcing, precise and precious

Outsourcing is the service (design, manufacturing, production and related operations) provided by a company (the sub-contractor) based on plans or specifications outlined by another company (the outsourcer) or on their behalf. 

 

Definition by SOTRABAN in its white paper published in 2022: Les sous-traitants normands, acteurs de l’industrie française . 

Specialisation and adaptation

Machining, electronics, boilermaking, plastics, surface coatings, cabling: the Normandy industry stands out for its diverse expertise. Our specialist sub-contractors can provide bespoke services and products for any industry: automotive, aerospace, food, nuclear etc.

They include SMEs like FILT 1860, famous for its expertise in weaving, braiding and manufacturing. Half of its work is involved in making bespoke products for aquaculture, packaging, railway etc. Then there are machining companies like DBN in Bayeux, making car parts in medium series, or Legeard in Tinchebray, supplying factories with washing crates to wash their products. 

Outsourcing is a “team game” in Normandy

What sets these small businesses in Normandy apart? A good mutual understanding and ability to work together. They are happy to join forces to pool their resources and skills to answer calls to tender together or get into new markets. It’s a real bonus for outsourcers in Normandy who have all the skills they need in one place. And being local to each other means you can act faster, save travel costs and reduce your carbon footprint.

Several associations unite the industry’s businesses

The outsourcing industry in Normandy is based around several professional associations in different départements. They not only bring companies together but also represent them to their economic partners and industry figures. They include: 

  • SOTRABAN
    The oldest outsourcing association in Normandy. It was founded in 1972 and now has 110 members from every industry (metalworking, plastics, electronics, surface coatings etc.). SOTRABAN is a place for businesses in the industry to get together and communicate. It’s a prime point of contact for their partners and outsourcers.
  • DIEPPE MÉCA ENERGIES
    Dieppe Méca Énergies brings together sub-contractors involved in manufacturing, logistics and construction. The association helps its 125 members’ businesses to grow through innovation and export.
  • VIALOG
    Design office, assembly, sheet metal, machining, electronics etc. : Vialog is an association of fifteen sub-contractors from Dieppe and Normandy that provides an all-round manufacturing service, from design to distribution. The aim is to conquer new markets. Just take B-BOT, an Ile-de-France start-up that wanted to roll out its plastic bottle recycling machine on an industrial scale. Five Vialog companies helped make the 500 machines that are now set up all over France.
  • Club AISCO
    AISCO (Industry and Service Association for Complex Systems) was founded in 1992 in Cherbourg-en-Cotentin and is a network of fifty sub-contractors (3500 jobs). They all work for three major industrial groups in Cotentin: Naval Group, Orano and EDF. The club is a prime point of contact for outsourcers as well as politicians and government departments. It works on major local industrial projects (offshore wind farm, marine energy, tidal stream generators etc.).
Studio 911 / Normandie Attractivité

Events celebrating Normandy’s sub-contractors

  • SOTRABAN Business Meeting. Business meetings, round table, conferences: all the manufacturing companies in the region are welcome at the B2B event by SOTRABAN. The idea is to bring sub-contractors together and introduce them to outsourcers in Normandy. 
  • SEPEM Industries. Norman businesses make their presence felt! SOTRABAN brings a fleet of its members to the trade fair (23 companies at the SEPEM in 2024) to fly the flag for the subcontracting industry in Normandy to outsourcers from all over France. 
  • Global Industrie. The BIGGEST international industry event which Paris and Lyon take turns to host. SOTRABAN and several of its members are always there.

Innovative and resilient

By definition, sub-contractors work for outsourcers with precise and clearly-defined orders. That doesn’t stop them from innovating or designing their own products, as the white paper published by the SOTRABAN cluster highlighted for its 50th anniversary in 2022. 

During the pandemic, some companies reacted to business being slow whilst others seized new opportunities. Interfiltre (Lisieux) specialise in air filters and came up with Spirabilis, an air purifier for public spaces that can purify the air in a 25m2 room in 5 minutes. Calip Group, machining and assembly experts for cutting-edge industry, designed a contactless hand sanitiser dispenser (Oxagel). Elsewhere, the sheet metal and metalworking company Metaltech Legiret used its expertise to design smart locker vending machines. The machines are sold under the D2C Technologies brand and designed for local producers, primarily in Normandy, who want to cut out the middle man and sell direct to consumers.

When they’re not coming up with new products, sub-contractors are putting innovation into their processes and managerial systems. Scop SAIRC Outillages went into automation in 2013 to conquer new markets and improve its staff’s working conditions (daytime contract). Metal treatment specialists TMC (11 employees) launched a CM tool in 2015 for its processes to better manage and track orders. 

Decarbonisation and energy transition: the industry takes it one step at a time

The environment and energy transition are now vital to sub-contractors. On the one hand, like any company, they have to reduce their energy expenditure for economic reasons. On the other hand, reducing your carbon footprint is now a key criteria for major outsourcers who want to work with sustainable partners. 

Toshiba-industrie

The SOTRABAN subcontracting business cluster is raising awareness among its members and plans to establish work groups in the next few months. Initiatives by Normandy subcontractors are primarily individual. Just take Tecal Verbrugge, specialists in anodised coatings in Vire: its business requires 27m3 of water per day so the company designed its own filtration system which reduced its consumption by 20%.

Employment in the subcontracting industry

Normandy’s industry has picked up again since 2021 which means sub-contractors have also seen business bounce back. It also means they need more staff. SOBATRAN conducted a survey of its members in spring 2022 which found that most sub-contractors in Normandy are now looking to hire staff. 

Technicians (welders, boilermakers, operators, machine operators) may be the most in-demand but there are lots of opportunities out there in sales and administrative roles. 

Countless courses and flexible companies

From NVQs to engineering degrees, there are lots of courses available in Normandy if you want to work in the industry. 

Studio 911 / Normandie Attractivité
Laudescher

Given the industry’s recruitment issues and need for operational staff, several technical colleges have opened in Normandy over the last few years with the support of businesses, professional associations and the Region: machining school in Cotentin, boilermaking school in Le Havre. 

Another example near Caen is the new private Métal Academy, a business/school that launched its first welding course in September 2023. These colleges see almost 100% of their graduates get a job when they leave. 

News about Industry

Multiple perspectives: industrial maintenance, the manufacturing doctors

He’s one of 4 Normans to join the French team for the international WorldSkills competition in September 2024: 20 year old Thiaifène, an apprentice at Mont-Blanc in Manche, will champion Normandy’s expertise in industrial maintenance. Let’s take a look at multiple perspectives of a popular trade in the area with Vincent Bettin, his HND teacher…

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