Crafts & Trade

Definition and methodology

"Crafts and related trades" are considered as a group of professions in which "workers apply their specific knowledge and skills to produce or process goods" and in which "the tasks call for an understanding of all stages of the production process, the materials and tools used and the nature and purpose of the final product". However, there is no European definition for craft enterprises and crafts cover a very wide range of activities that do not constitute a marked-off sector in NACE.

The e-Business W@tch will apply an operational definition of craft enterprises as "firms with less than 50 employees in crafts-related NACE categories". Considering the economic activities criterion that is applied in nine Member States, crafts firms are included in manufacturing activities in fields such as food, wood, metals and ceramics (NACE 15 - 37, excluding 23 - 25), construction (NACE 45), repairs (NACE 50), transport (NACE 60), and several "other services" (NACE 90 and 93). Since the crafts sector is very heterogeneous, a comparison of sub-sectors needs to be possible in the e-Business W@tch analysis. Therefore, a reasonable number of interviews per sub-sector and country has to be conducted. Consequently, a comprehensive coverage of crafts would be out of the scope of the e-Business W@tch survey. Several crafts will be selected.

In order to make best economic use of the sample, the crafts sector analysis will partly be based on interviews that are also evaluated for other sector reports. Firstly, a composite crafts sector will comprise firms with less than 50 employees in the three sectors of textiles, electronics, and transport equipment in which firms from all size classes will be interviewed. Secondly, the composite crafts sector will include construction as well as wood and furniture manufacturing; in these two sub-sectors, only firms with less than 50 employees will be interviewed. Thus, activities covered in the composite crafts sector are:


Rev. 1
Business activity
17 - 19 See Textile Industries
20 Manufacture of wood and of products of wood and cork, except furniture; manufacture of articles of straw and plaiting materials
20.1 Sawmilling and planing of wood; impregnation of wood
20.2 Manufacture of veneer sheets; manufacture of plywood, laminboard, particle board, fibre board and other panels and boards
20.3 Manufacture of builders' carpentry and joinery
20.4 Manufacture of wooden containers
20.5 Manufacture of other products of wood; manufacture of articles of cork, straw and plaiting materials
30 - 32 See Manufacture of electrical machinery and electronics
34 - 35 See Manufacture of transport equipment
36 Manufacture of furniture; manufacturing n.e.c.
36.1 Manufacture of furniture
45 Construction
45.2 Building of complete constructions or parts thereof; civil engineering
45.3 Building installation
45.4 Building completion


Main reasons for selection

  • Economic importance of the sector: Crafts is a huge sector in terms of number of enterprises, employment and value added. While it is "impossible to quantify craft-trade in Europe owing to the deformity of surveying methods and the different up-dating levels" , 99% of European non-primary enterprises are small firms with less than 50 employees, accounting for around 50% of employment. The construction industry comprises more than 1.9 million enterprises and employs more than 10 million people, the third largest amounts after retail and business services in the e-Business W@tch. As regards value added, the construction sector is second with 345 billion Euro. Wood manufacturing comprises 129,000 enterprises that employ 874,000 people and account for a value added of 29.6 billion Euro; in furniture manufacturing around 770,000 people are employed and a value added of 26 billion Euro is created.
  • Importance of SMEs: By definition crafts comprise only small companies with less than 50 employees. Therefore, the analysis of crafts offers the opportunity to gain deeper insights into e-business applications within the group of small companies. Construction as well as wood and furniture manufacturing are chosen as sub-sectors of the composite crafts sector because they have a particularly high share of small firms: Construction crafts enterprises account for roughly two thirds of value added within the sector which is 2.5 times as much as the corresponding share of small enterprises in the manufacturing sector. Wood manufacturing (NACE 20) has an SME share of 98.3%, furniture manufacturing is dominated by micro and small enterprises which account for around 50% of EU value added which is close to double the manufacturing average.
  • E-business intensive sector: While small companies generally tend to lag behind medium-sized and large firms in e-business application, many craft firms are quite advanced in this respect. For example in electronics and electrical equipment manufacturing, a sector which was already included in the previous e-business surveys, small (craft) firms perform better than small firms in many other industries under consideration. Furthermore, certain sub-industries such as furniture manufacturing have recently been found to perform particularly well in e-business applications. Crafts could therefore serve as an e-business model for small firms in other industries.
  • Importance of ICT for the sector: ICT and e-business application will be crucial for many craft firms to stay competitive with industrial production. Possible benefits include reduced procurement costs through e-marketplaces- particularly in consortia with other craft firms -, new ways of contract acquisition, and more efficient business processes.