Catalan SMEs gain ground over large companies

Pimec study shows Catalonia’s small and medium-sized firms with greater share of GDP for the first time since crisis began

The Minister for Business and Knowledge Santi Vila with PIMEC president Josep González
The Minister for Business and Knowledge Santi Vila with PIMEC president Josep González / Josep Molina, K.S.

Josep Molina, K.S. | Barcelona

July 13, 2017 07:23 PM

Catalan SMEs “are on the right track”, with the figures showing that there are more small and medium-sized enterprises in Catalonia, that they are larger and more productive. That is according to Josep González, president of the Pimec association that represents Catalonia’s SMEs, during the presentation of the 14th edition of the 2017 annual report on SMEs, which this year used 2015 results from 77,000 different companies.

According to the report, the upward trend for SMEs is particularly noticeable in that, for the first time since the financial crisis began, small and medium-sized firms have increased their share of GDP compared to large companies.

In 2015, SMEs made up 59.1% of GDP, a percentage point higher than in 2014, while large companies dropped to 36.3%. With González claiming that the annual report shows “that the crisis has been left behind,” the study suggests that SMEs are now larger and more productive. What’s more, the Pimec head said he sees nothing to suggest that this trend will not continue in 2017 and 2018.

Another fact highlighted by the report is that SMEs rely less on banks. Between 2000 and 2015, SME bank debt fell from 64% to 51%. Catalan business and knowledge minister, Santi Vila, pointed out that this fall in debt meant “leaving behind” one of the weakest points of Catalan companies. González agreed, highlighting the need for SMEs to rely less on banks in favor of finding investment from venture capital funds, through mergers, and other means other than the traditional resort of appealing to banks for loans.

The annual report also indicates that an increasing number of SMEs are exporting more. In 2015, some 26.5% of small and medium-sized companies exported their goods, although the figure still has some way to go to match the 84% achieved by large internationalized companies. Nevertheless, the report shows positive figures for SMEs across the board, from a 3.1% rise in the number of small and medium-sized firms, a 4.6% employment growth in SMEs and a rise in sales of 8.6%, with greater economic profitability (before tax and financial expenses) of 5.2%.