Coface CEE Top 500 Companies
The year 2015 brought a good mix of conditions for Central and Eastern Europe. Average GDP growth for the CEE region was 3.3% in 2015, after 2.6% in 2014. Economies benefited from rising domestic demand. This included both, growing private consumption, supported by declining unemployment and growing wages, and increasing investments in most economies. Important support came from EU funds which CEE countries were efficient users of in the final year of validity of the 'old' EU budget. At the same time, CEE countries remained active exporters focusing on Eurozone enjoying a GDP growth of 1.6% and looking for new markets.
The CEE Top 500 ranks the 500 biggest companies in the region by turnover. These top players increased their turnover by 4.2% to nearly 593 billion EUR and enlarged their staff by 0.5%. Overall 4.3% of the total labor force in the region is employed by the companies of the CEE Top 500 which has a positive effect on unemployment rates. The ongoing upward trend was also recorded by the majority of the sectors in the CEE Top 500. Twelve out of thirteen sectors increased their turnover compared to the previous year. Strong rises were achieved by textiles, leather & clothing on +14.8% and automotive & transport on +10.3%. The only sector to see a decrease in its turnover was minerals, chemicals, petroleum, plastics & pharma on -8.3%.
Favorable business conditions extended into 2016. The forecast for the CEE region in 2016 is nearly on the same level as 2015 with an estimated average growth rate of 3.0%. A further improvement in the labor market and growing confidence will strengthen household consumption as the main growth driver of the CEE economies. The contribution of investments will not be as high as last year due to a slow start of new EU co-financed projects weakening the expansion of the construction sector and various other associated industries. On the external side CEE countries will remain active exporters, although the slowdown in global trade may hamper their ambitions.