France awaits results from Macron's pro-business push

When Macron swept into the presidency in May 2017 vowing to shake France out of its economic torpor, the jobless rate was stuck at 9.4 percent, well above the EU average and more than double the rate in Germany.

France awaits results from Macron's pro-business push

Emmanuel Macron has watched his approval ratings plunge as voters wait for his pro-business reforms to pay off -- but for company leaders like Pierre Loustric, that's not a problem.

"I'm not disappointed because I know what it takes to move France," says Loustric, who expects the lower taxes and eased employment rules pushed through by Macron to eventually help his fragrance start-up hire more people.

"It's the same for a business manager: When you want to change your strategy, it takes a while to see the results," he adds.

Nearly 18 months and a series of labour reforms later, unemployment has eased only marginally to 9.1 percent -- while Macron's approval ratings have sunk to their lowest to date.

The former investment banker is clearly taking his cue from Germany, where painful overhauls in the early 2000s paved the way for an economic revival which led to a huge wave of hiring.

But he has admitted his changes, aimed at freeing companies from a labyrinth of legal obligations, might not bear results for "about five years".

"Lots of companies haven't yet applied the changes voted through last spring," said Jean-Louis Mourier, an economist at Aurel BGC.

Those measures were passed by decree, and parliament is currently pushing through a host of new changes aimed at simplifying life for business owners even further.

Key elements include exemptions from audits, work councils and dozens of other requirements for small firms, and caps on severance pay in case of contested layoffs -- making it less risky for firms to take on workers.

The rules also make it easier for smaller businesses to implement profit-sharing and grant stock schemes.

"That would have been interesting for us," said Loustric, whose company has developed a technology for diffusing perfumes in homes and offices without relying on solvents or alcohol.

Since its creation in 2004 Scentys has won over dozens of clients both in France and abroad, but it only started turning a profit last year.

"It's not right that the only ones to share the benefits of created value are executives and investors," he said.