Mostly proprietorships and especially in services
Less than half of all companies (49.46%) have a legal form of a proprietorship and 32.2% of companies are corporations. NGOs make up 9.35% of all companies in Germany. The remaining less than 10% are entities with an unknown legal form (government institutions or joint ventures).
Number of companies by legal form
|Non Profit Organization||9.35%|
|Partnership Of Unknown Type||5%|
|Local Government Body||0.37%|
The most represented industries among corporations are services (38.1%), finance / insurance / real estate (22.1%), and construction (8.8%). Among proprietorships, most companies operate in services (48.9%), while retail trade and construction represent 21.5% and 10.6% respectively.
Industries with the highest number of entities registered as corporations and proprietorships
|Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate||22.1%||5.0%|
|Transportation, Communications, Electric, Gas, and Sanitary Services||5.3%||3.2%|
|Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing||1.3%||4.8%|
When it comes to SIC Codes, most corporations operate in management services (174,393), as real estate agent / manager (164,819), and as holding companies (149,200). Most proprietorships operate as eating places (145,677), health practitioner's offices ( 126,127), and business services (105,831).
SIC Codes with the highest number of companies registered as corporations and proprietorships
|Real estate agent/manager||164,819|
|Computer related services||45,711|
|Business consulting services||38,367|
|Custom computer programming||28,948|
|Health practitioner's office||126,127|
|Medical doctor's office||103,623|
|Legal services office||54,867|
In terms of individual industries across all legal forms, most entities work in services (51.21%), retail trade (13.75%), and finance / insurance / real estate (10.66%); 75.62% of all companies operate in these three sectors. Despite the fact that only 4.32% of companies operate in manufacturing, this industry accounts for the majority of sales of all companies in Germany (share of 27.51%). Second is finance, insurance and real estate with a share of 22.29% and third are services with a share of 16.52%.
Number of companies by industry
|Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate||10.66%|
|Transportation, Communications, Electric, Gas, and Sanitary Services||3.5%|
|Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing||3.09%|
In terms of specific economic activities (SIC Codes), most companies operate as real estate agents / managers (222,673) - this represents more than 4% of all companies. 3.65% of companies do business in civil / social association and 3.56% of companies in management services. A total of 31.43% of all German companies operate in the top 10 SIC Codes.
SIC codes with highest number of companies
|SIC code||Number of companies||Share|
|Real estate agent/manager||222,673||4.24%|
|Health practitioners office||136,400||2.6%|
|Medical doctors office||132,530||2.52%|
|Legal services office||72,116||1.37%|
|Business consulting services||70,925||1.35%|
|Computer related services||68,864||1.31%|
|Plumbing/heating/air conditioning contractor||57,252||1.09%|
The highest number of companies are based in the state of Nord-Westfalen. When it comes to cities, Berlin has the highest number of registered entities.
The highest number of companies are located in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia (almost 20% of all companies, which is more than a million companies in absolute terms). The state of Bavaria is second (18.41%; 966 thousand companies). The state of Baden-Württemberg is third (12.86%; 675 thousand companies). More than 68% of companies operate in the five states with the highest number of companies.
States with highest number of companies
|State / Province||Number of companies||Share|
It is interesting to look at the states which used to be part of the German Democratic Republic (GDR). More precisely, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Thuringia, Brandenburg. Berlin was divided into 2 parts so we excluded it from this comparison. These 5 states have the lowest number of companies. This is similar to states like Bremen, Saarland, and Hamburg which used to be part of West Germany but are some of the smallest states in terms of the area they occupy. Statistics are similar when it comes to sales and number of employees within these 5 states. Companies registered in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Thuringia, and Brandenburg generate just 5.6% of all sales and employ just 9.3% of all employees in the country.
|State / Province||Sales (mil. EUR)||Share||Number of employees||Share|
In terms of the number of companies in individual cities, Berlin is first with 4.94% of all entities. Hamburg is second (3.05%) and Munich is third (2.54%). More than 17% of all companies are registered in the top ten cities.
|City||Number of companies||Share|
|Frankfurt am Main||64,477||1.23%|
The largest companies in terms of sales operate in manufacturing and especially in car manufacturing. The list of top 15 German companies has four automakers and three manufacturing companies. There is also a parent telecommunications company and parent companies of grocery store chains. Volkswagen has the highest sales at EUR 222B a year. Annual sales generated by all of the 5.25M+ German companies are 11.6 trillion euros. Top 15 companies account for 11.28%.
|VOLKSWAGEN AG||€ 222,884,000,000|
|Daimler AG||€ 154,309,345,000|
|Schwarz Beteiligungs-KG||€ 114,302,000,000|
|Deutsche Telekom AG||€ 100,999,000,000|
|Bayerische Motoren Werke AG||€ 98,990,000,000|
|Robert Bosch Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung||€ 77,721,000,000|
|Uniper Global Commodities SE||€ 77,077,700,000|
|Deutsche Post AG||€ 66,806,000,000|
|E.ON SE||€ 60,944,000,000|
|INA-Holding Schaeffler GmbH & Co. KG||€ 59,981,000,000|
|BASF SE||€ 59,149,000,000|
|Siemens AG||€ 57,139,000,000|
|Lidl Stiftung & Co. KG||€ 56,867,000,000|
|AUDI AG||€ 55,680,000,000|
|REWE-ZENTRALFINANZ eG||€ 55,374,300,000|
|Top 15 largest companies||€ 1,318,223,345,000|
Top 15 employers include 7 companies from manufacturing, the German Railways (Deutsche Bahn AG), a telecommunications company, and chains of grocery stores. The largest employer is Volkswagen with 665,000 people.
|Companies||Number of employees|
|INA-Holding Schaeffler GmbH & Co. KG||320,432|
|Deutsche Post AG||319,998|
|Fresenius Management SE||305,706|
|Fresenius SE & Co. KGaA||305,000|
|Deutsche Bahn AG||249,251|
|Deutsche Telekom AG||223,539|
|Robert Bosch Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung||218,377|
|Lidl Stiftung & Co. KG||193,683|
|ZF Friedrichshafen AG||155,502|
|Top 15 largest companies||4,120,445|
If you would like to do a more detailed analysis of German companies or companies from other European countries you can use HitHorizons Screener. HitHorizons Screener allows users to pick from various filtering and sorting options and find relevant entities within the whole HitHorizons database. The resulting datasets can be exported in CSV for further processing in any software.
HitHorizons aggregates data on 80M+ businesses from 60 countries, including the whole of Europe. Data contains basic information about individual companies such as name, registered address, identification number, contact information, industry, SIC Code, sales performance, and number of employees.