The quantitative survey targeted large, small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) with headquarters in Germany, France, Great Britain and Switzerland (see Project design). As can be seen in the figure above, a total of 352 companies participated in Germany, of which 116 are SMEs (33%), i.e. companies with 20-249 employees, and 236 large companies (67%) with 250 or more employees. From France, 115 SMEs (33%) and 229 large companies (67%) participated, making a total of 344 companies. In addition, representatives of 331 companies headquartered in Great Britain responded, 116 of which are SMEs (35%) and 215 companies with 250 or more employees (65%). Finally, a total of 365 companies from Switzerland participated, divided into 115 SMEs (32%) and 250 large companies (68%).
As the above figure illustrates, the present study was carried out in all four countries on a cross-sectoral basis, with the classification being based on the NOGA sector index of the Swiss Federal Statistical Office. The British companies in this survey come from public administration (21%) and industry (16%), followed by IT, telecommunications and publishing (14%). A quarter of the German companies involved come from industry. With 15 and 14 per cent respectively, the trade, transport and warehousing as well as IT, telecommunications and publishing sectors are the second and third most represented. With a share of 17 per cent, most of the French companies involved are from the industrial sector and, with a good 15 per cent each, the second most frequently from public administration and the IT, telecommunications and publishing sectors. Finally, the majority of the companies surveyed in Switzerland were in industry (24%) and public administration (22%), followed by banks, insurance companies and real estate (15%).
In order to determine the business success of the companies surveyed, they were asked about the sales development over the last 24 months and their assessment of the business development for the coming 12 months. The turnover of over 70 per cent of German companies has risen in the recent past, followed by France with 57 per cent, Switzerland with just under 54 per cent and finally Great Britain with 44 per cent, with another 42 per cent of British companies recording constant turnover in the last two years. More than half of the German (65 %) and French (54 %) companies are optimistic about future business development, while the companies surveyed from Great Britain and Switzerland are somewhat more cautious with their forecasts.
Of the companies from Germany and France, one third did not generate any sales abroad. Half of German and 46 per cent of French companies recorded foreign sales of at least 20 per cent in 2018. Of the British companies surveyed, 39 per cent were not active abroad last year, while almost a third generated between 20 and 60 per cent. Nearly 40 per cent of the Swiss companies surveyed were active only in Switzerland in 2018. About 20 per cent, on the other hand, achieved at least two thirds of their turnover abroad.