Study: Family-Owned Companies Most Important Employers in Germany

The family-owned Schwarze Group, which owns the supermarket chain Lidl, employs 375,000 people. Picture source: Reuters.

The 500 largest family-owned companies in Germany employ 57 percent of the country’s workers, far more than the 27 corporate-run firms traded on the blue-chip DAX index, according to a new study by the Centre for European Economic Research and the IfM Institute for Medium-sized Companies.

Family-owned companies employ 3.2 million people in Germany, compared to 1.5 million employed by the 27 corporate-run DAX companies, according to the study, which was commissioned by the Foundation for Family Businesses and seen in advance by Handelsblatt.

The study found that family-owned companies have only increased in importance for the labor market over the past decade. Since 2006, the number of workers employed by family-owned companies in Germany has risen by nearly 20 percent, while the number of workers employed by the 27 corporate-run DAX companies has increased by just 2 percent.

The largest family-owned company by number of employees is the Schwarze Group, which owns the grocery store chain Lidl and employs 375,000 people. Other large family-owned employers include Bosch, Metro, the Aldi Group, Bertelsmann, Schaeffler, Mahle, Adolf Würth, Tengelmann, and Rethman.

Family-owned companies play a much larger role in the German economy compared to other E.U. countries. Ninety-one percent of all companies in Germany are family owned, generating 55 percent of total corporate revenue. Forty-five percent of German companies with revenues of more than €50 million are family-owned.

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