Germany's 500 strongest companies in terms of turnover have seen their combined revenue stagnating for the first time since 2009. But a fresh study noted they kept hiring more staff as order books appeared quite filled.
Germany's daily newspaper Die Welt reported in its Monday edition that the 500 strongest companies in Europe's economic powerhouse were unable to raise their combined revenue in 2013, following a 6.3-percent increase in turnover in the previous year.
The study noted the stagnation at hand last year marked the first annual lull since the global financial crisis further unfolded in 2009. The survey only considered companies with an annual turnover of at least one billion euros ($1.36 billion).
But the picture was not homogeneous, with a number of outperformers able to buck the general trend.
Big leap again for VW
There were three auto makers among the top five, Die Welt stated, indicating the growing importance of the car industry for the country's economy. Volkswagen once again led the table in 2013 with an annual revenue of 197 billion euros, marking a 2.2-percent increase from a year earlier.
Utility group E.ON came in second, logging 123 billion euros in turnover, down almost 7 percent from 2012. Positions three to five were taken by Daimler, BMW and Siemens.
While the great majority of the top 500 were not able to increase their revenue, the study saw them hiring 1.9 percent more workers in 2013 than in the previous year. No other German firm has a workforce as big as VW.
The Wolfsburg-based carmaker currently employs almost 573,000 people globally, some 260,000 of them in Germany alone.