The Breton economy
In Brittany, one of the few French regions to have continued to create jobs over the past decade, the unemployment rate is still lower than the national average by one or two percentage points. In 2006, the total labour force consisted of 1.24 million people: agriculture and fishing still accounted for 6% of these workers (despite a sharp decline), industry for 25% and the tertiary sector (trade and services) for 70%. While Brittany is home to major French and foreign groups, the regional economy is characterised by a dense network of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
With a gross domestic product (GDP) of 78 billion euros in 2007, Brittany is the fifth leading French region when it comes to wealth created by its economic activity.
Agriculture - from livestock farming to vegetable production
With 40,632 farms in 2005 (fewer than in 2000 (-21%) but larger), agriculture remains important in Brittany. It mainly focuses on livestock farming (cattle, pigs, poultry) and polyculture (cereals and vegetables).
Two thirds of the crops are grown as forage for livestock (corn, wheat, barley), and Brittany is the leading producer of vegetables in France (green beans, artichokes, shallots, potatoes, tomatoes).
Visit the website of the Direction Régionale et Départementale de l'Agriculture et de la Forêt de Bretagne et d'Ille-et-Vilaine (a regional and departmental office for agriculture and forestry in Brittany and Ille-et-Vilaine)
Fishing, a specificity of Brittany
Brittany is the leading French region for fishing and has experienced an increasing concentration of production and marketing. From deep-sea trawlers to coastal fishing boats, all types of fishing are practised, and the main species of fish, crustacean and mollusc can be found in the region. Fishing and aquaculture account for 8,590 jobs at sea and in the shellfish industry (the farming of edible shellfish, oysters, mussels, cockles, clams, etc.). There are 59 seafood-processing companies, with a total of 5,000 employees.
Visit the website of Bretagne et la Mer (Brittany and the Sea)
Some leading industrial sectors
Brittany is one of the only regions in France where industrial employment has continued to increase since 1980. It is centred around four main sectors of activity.
Agrifood, the leading industrial sector in Brittany
The main sector (with 43% of the companies and a third of the industrial jobs), the agrifood industry has experienced significant growth in Brittany over the past twenty-five years: processing of animal protein (meat, fish, milk), vegetable production, animal feed.
The automobile industry centred around PSA
The establishment of Citroën in Rennes in the 1960s led to the development of the Brittany’s automobile industry around a major network of parts manufacturers and subcontractors. Brittany's vehicle industry (Véhicules Bretagne) is distinguished by its experience and expertise in the field of specific and dedicated vehicles; it is developing expertise and skills in the small series and/or low production rate domains across the entire supply chain: design, industrialisation, tools, manufacturing, logistics, marketing and commercialisation, etc.
The shipbuilding tradition
This rapidly expanding sector, which is the fourth leading industrial sector in Brittany, brings together building sites and military ship repair (despite the recent restructuring in Brest and Lorient), as well as those with jobs in fishing, sailing, oceanography, passenger transport, etc.
- At the forefront of electronics and telecoms
Brittany is the second leading national centre for telecommunications and the fifth leading French region when it comes to electronics, and the Breton industry has built a global reputation in this field. The establishment of research centres, French and foreign industrial groups and many SMEs has encouraged its construction around three hubs: Rennes, Lannion and Brest.
Attracting the 4th highest number of French tourists and the 5th highest number of international tourists in France, Brittany relies on its tourist economy to develop the Breton economy.
Tertiary services sector
This sector has experienced significant growth in the past few years, with a successful banking sector, a very significant retail sector (whose major brands were established in Brittany) and many services for individuals and businesses.
Visit the site of the Chambre Régionale de Commerce et d'Industrie (Regional Chamber of Commerce and Industry): the Breton economy in numbers and graphs. Visit the site of the INSEE (Institut National de la Statistique et des Études Économiques, or French National Institute for Statistics and Economic Studies
Breton competitive clusters
Backed by strong sectors, four competitive clusters have emerged in Brittany in the past few years: Image & Réseaux in the information and communication technology sector, Mer Bretagne (one of the 15 French clusters with a global focus), and Valorial (food for the future) and iDforCAR (automobile), which operate nationally. These clusters rely on the collaboration between companies, research units and training centres to promote innovation for economic development in the region's major sectors.
- Website of the Mer Bretagne cluster
- Website of the Image et réseaux cluster
- Website of the Valorial cluster
- Website of the automobile cluster iDforCAR
- Website of the CGET (Commissariat Général à l'Egalité des Territoires, or General Commission for Territorial Equality)
- Website of Bretagne Développement Innovation (Brittany's regional development and innovation agency)