08.–10.02.2025 #spogahorse

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Spoga horse Country Check (1): The horse industry in France

Spoga horse is the world's leading B2B trade fair for the horse industry. An important plus point for visitors and exhibitors: Its internationality. Exhibitors from 33 countries and visitors from 72 countries took part in spoga horse Autumn 2019. The networking of business partners across national borders is an important mission of spoga horse. That's why in the new series "spoga horse Country Check" we take a close look at the most important sales markets for spoga horse.

Please note: These are partially abridged versions of the articles originally published in the trade magazine "ReitsportBRANCHE" by Sebastian Reichert. If you are interested in the complete publications, you can order the complete Ländlercheck series at info@reitsport-branche.com .

Picture: Jacqueline Macou

Picture: Jacqueline Macou

Economic facts

12 million French people - one in five - live in the Greater Paris area. After the capital with 2.2 million inhabitants, the largest metropolises are Marseille (860,000), Lyon (507,000), Toulouse (466,000) and Nice (343,000). France is divided into 19 regions following a reform since the beginning of 2016. Previously there were 27 regions. Germany is the main trading partner of the second largest EU economy (and the fifth largest in the world) in terms of both exports and imports. France exported goods worth €473.6 billion in 2017 and imported goods worth €552.7 billion. 5.3 percent of the gross domestic product of 2,286 billion euros in 2017 was generated by agriculture, forestry and fisheries. The area under cultivation has remained almost unchanged for 50 years; however, the number of farms and the number of people employed in agriculture has fallen sharply in recent years.

Horse riding and association structure in france

The umbrella organisation for all riders, drivers and vaulters in France is the Fédération Française D'Equitation, founded in 1921. With 689,000 members, the FFE is the third largest sports federation in France and the second largest umbrella organisation in the international.

Picture: Sofie Zbořilová

Picture: Sofie Zbořilová

Umbrella organisation FEI. Only the French Football Federation (1,725,000 members) and the Tennis Federation (1,085,000 members) have more members. In 1984 FFE had only 145,000 members. "Over the past 20, 30 years, equestrian sport in France has been democratised," explains Manfred Hödl of HEXA Horse. The French company produces equestrian accessories such as whips or special luggage. "Due to the military and courtly roots, riding was previously something for people from better circles. This is no longer the case. In the many equestrian centres that have sprung up, many children whose families could otherwise not afford to keep a horse are riding. The fact that until recently equestrian centres had to pay a lower VAT rate was also helpful in this respect.

However, the absolute majority of the 2.2 million French riders are women. The FFE figures prove this: 83% of its members (557,821) are women. In terms of the number of female members, the FFE is even the largest sports federation in France. A total of 84,000 of FFE's members are tourist riders. Three quarters of the licence holders are under 21 years old. The association has the largest number of members in the Paris region and in the north of the country. The highest number is in the old region Picardie. There are 14 licences per 1000 inhabitants. Over 54,000 people bought at least one horse in 2014.

Professionalisation and breeding

Picture: Jacqueline Macou

Picture: Jacqueline Macou

The French Federation organises the largest number of RDI tournaments in the world. In 2015 there were 582 tournaments. In addition, the Société Hippique Française (SHF) organised a total of 8717 competitions for ponies and young horses (up to 6 years old), and in addition there were 102,919 competitions for other horses outside these forms of organisation. The number of SHF competitions has recently increased considerably. In 2004, the Société Hippique organised almost 5500 competitions.

There are approximately 180,000 jobs in the French equestrian sector, of which 57,000 are full-time employees. In this respect it is the number one in sport in France. The French equestrian sector has a total estimated turnover of 14 billion euros.

There are 66 breeds of horses in France. There are about 35,000 breeders, 80 per cent of whom keep one or two mares. Breeders' main focus is the northwest of the country. The Institut Français du Cheval et de l'Equitation (IFCE) lists 6568 breeders in the Basse-Normandie region alone. The IFCE counts 72,600 reproductive mares. For cows, the figure is 7.6 million and for pigs around one million.

In addition to the breeders in Normandy (14,678 covered mares) and in Pays de la Loire (8551), the breeders in the old region of Aquitaine with its capital Bordeaux cover most mares - 6230. In the Altregion in the southwest there are about 2300 breeders and 45,000 horses. 40 percent of the breeders who keep more than ten mares live in Basse-Normandie or in Aquitaine. Two thirds of the horse population are ponies and riding horses. 20 percent are racehorses.

The french specialist equestrian trade

Picture: Jacqueline Macou

Picture: Jacqueline Macou

With "Horsewood" (32 shops) and "Padd" (55 shops) there are two large retail chains specialising in equestrian equipment. "These two retail chains are dominant alongside independent saddle shops", says Babette Schily of SO Horse Alliances. "They have large sales areas in their shops, estimated at 300 to 400 square metres." Both belong to the Ekkia group of companies, which is managed by Jean-François Vignion.

Decathlon also has a strong position in the French equestrian business with over 300 retail outlets. Founded in 1976, Decathlon also sells clothing, equipment and accessories for riders and horses in its shops (as it does in more than 50 shops in Germany). Decathlon has its own research and development centre for its own products (brand "Fouganza"). "In about 60 percent of all major French cities have Decathlon," estimates Aurélien Guillon of "Horse Pilot".

An estimated number of 300 to 500 equestrian shops counts Marie-Line Buessard. "We work together with 50 specialist shops in France", explains the designer of "Charles de Nevel". According to her, most of the specialist shops are in the Paris area and Normandy. "The smaller shops position themselves with higher quality goods, advice and service", explains Babette Schily. "In the south, the strong influence of manufacturers from Italy and Spain.

This has a noticeable effect on the specialist dealers, in the north the proximity to Germany is greater," says "Horse Pilot" managing director Guillon. SO Horse Alliances, among other things, is dedicated to the necessary cooperation, exchange of experience and international business of the individual players. The regional cluster brings together companies, experts, breeders, trainers and equestrian sports schools in the southwest to promote the economy and location marketing and to develop new products. Caen in Normandy is home to the "Pôle Hippolia", one of 70 state-owned "Pôles de compétitivité" which pursues similar interests: The nationally active competence network with over 150 members aims to be an innovation driver for the French equestrian industry and wants to strengthen the competitiveness of the sector.

France @ spoga horse

Picture: Sadnos

Picture: Sadnos

At spoga horse 2019, 41 exhibitors from France exhibited, about 5 percent French visitors took part. According to the exhibitor survey, France is one of the most important sales markets for more than half of all exhibitors.

Would you like to develop the French market for yourself or strengthen your business relationships? Then take part in spoga horse 2021: As an exhibitor or trade visitor .