By Philippe Vrain
Inter-company relationships play a crucial role in the strategies of small and medium-sized enterprises. Between 1999 and 2002, the implementing of the 35-hour work week law took place in an economic environment characterized by high growth rates. However, for subcontracting businesses, the benefits of this favorable business cycle have been curtailed by the pressure exercised by large corporations on their subcontractors. Small and medium-sized independent companies dedicated to subcontracting mention having to lower prices repeatedly along with the burden of implementing the 35-hour work week. However, the expanding worldwide demand for luxury goods has enabled small and medium-sized French independent companies to implement a strategy that is not dependent on large industrial groups and that has often proved profitable.