According to the KOF Swiss Institute of Business Cycle Research at ETH Zurich, investment in construction represents about 10% of Switzerland’s gross domestic product. A particular feature of this industry is that the upfront expenditure largely comes from inside the country, and that any fluctuations probably exert a more profound effect on the economic position of other industrial sectors. How is the situation in the construction sector in detail? CRIF has taken a look and reports here on developments in the construction industry over the past few years.
About the survey process
In this survey, we took account of all those construction businesses that were entered into the Commercial Register and were active or inactive and had either been closed or were newly opened during the years between 2015 to 2019.
Analysis undertaken by
31st December 2019
Development of the industry, 2015 - 2019
As a result of new start-ups, the number of active companies within the construction industry has increased every year. However, the number of company dissolutions or insolvencies (described as inactive here) also grew. In 2019 in particular, more companies were dossolved than were newly founded. This resulted in a reduction of 748 companies.
Number of companies by Canton in 2019
Sector distribution in 2019
In 2019, the Canton of Zurich recorded the highest number of companies in the construction industry as a whole. In some sectors, however, more companies were based in other Cantons.
In the structural sector, most companies are registered in the Canton of Vaud (632), followed by Ticino (601) and Zurich (548).
The Canton of Vaud has the most plastering and painting companies (632), followed by Bern (491) and Geneva (404)
The Canton of Bern leads in timber construction (550), followed by St. Gallen (285) and Zurich (271).
Road construction companies are most frequently based in the Canton of Bern (113), followed by Zurich (86) and St. Gallen (83).)
The 10 sectors with the largest number of companies in 2015
The largest number of companies were based in the following sectors: electrical installation (5,699), followed by general structural and civil engineering (3,982) and painting (3,687).
The 10 sectors with the largest number of companies in 2019
In 2019 too, the largest number of companies are to be found in the electrical installation sector (6,166) followed by general structural engineering (5,253) and painting (3,765).
The 10 sectors with the most employees* in 2015
In 2015, the general structural and civil engineering sector recorded the most employees in the construction industry (237,285), followed by the installation of heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems (234,403) and electrical installation (80,691).
The 10 sectors with the most employees* in 2019
In 2019, the installation of heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems employed the most people, but had the lowest number of companies of any of the sectors investigated. These must therefore have mostly involved larger businesses.
Lifespan of companies in the construction industry
Traditionally, there are many new company set-ups in the construction industry, but most of these businesses disappear again within the first three years.
“GmbH” or Limited Liability Company is the legal form most often adopted in the construction industry, and the number of companies selecting this form has again risen appreciably since 2015 (+24%). The number choosing the form “AG” or “Aktiengesellschaft” (Public Limited Company) has increased slightly in comparison with 2015, while the number of sole traders has slightly fallen.
Payment behaviour in 2019
On average, 40% of the invoices in the construction industry are paid punctually.
Payment behaviour in the various sectors, subdivided by 2-digit NOGA code
When we investigate payment behaviour in line with the categories of structural engineering, civil
engineering and specialised construction activities, it becomes clear that structural engineering is the least punctual for payment by far: only 58% of these invoices are paid punctually.
Payment behaviour by Canton 2019
A comparison of the payment behaviour of the individual Cantons shows that invoices are paid most punctually in the Canton of Bern. They are paid least punctually in the Canton of Ticino, where 50% of invoices fail to be settled punctually.