(AGI) Milan, Aug 11 - Italian businesses performed well overall in 2015, particularly the manufacturing sector, which improved gross margins and reasserted itself as the backbone of the production system. Some, however, did not return to their pre-crisis 2007-2008 levels. The 'Cumulative Data' study was done by Mediobanca's Research Unit, which collected information on 2060 Italian businesses and has published the report since 1962. It reported an increase in productivity, improved competition, greater investments, and stable employment levels. Medium and large private enterprises, public works contractors and the food and automotive sectors did well, while public companies did poorly. Overall turnover for Italian businesses in 2015 fell by 1.3 percent, similarly to the 1.5 percent drop in 2014. The domestic market lost 2.2 percent and exports slowed down to a 0.5 percent increase. The drop is attributable to public companies, which fell by 8.9 percent. Private companies fared better, with revenues up 0.9 percent thanks to the manufacturing sector (up 3.4 percent) and large companies (up 6 percent), whose tick upward was spearheaded by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. The services industry rose by 1.3 percent thanks to transportation companies and large-scale retailers. In exports, manufacturing goods gained 4.5 percent and public works contractors rose by 25.1 percent, thanks to foreign contracts. Public company exports dropped by 13.5 percent. The results remain similar even when compared to the peak pre-crisis levels in 2008: turnover dropped by 4.2 percent overall, with medium enterprises up 6.9 percent and large groups up 5.7 percent. Turnover rose significantly for the following: large contractors (39 percent); hides, skins and leather businesses (37.1 percent); the food sector in all its forms; local utility companies (22.9 percent), and transportation companies (15.6 percent). The automotive sector grew by 12 percent. The largest drops involved the publishing sector (38.5 percent), construction products (36.9 percent), plant design (31.8 percent), oil (28.2 percent), and telecommunications (24.3 percent). Private businesses saw gross margins rise by 8.3 percent overall in 2015: they were up 15.7 percent for manufacturers and 21.2 percent for medium and large enterprises. However, gross margins fell by 17 percent for public companies and 7.4 percent in the services sector. Compared to pre-crisis levels, gross margins for the totality of the 2,060 companies dropped by 32 percent, and by 19 percent for manufacturing companies. Gross margins almost doubled for contractors (up 97 percent) and hides, skins and leather companies (up 93 percent), and rose by 53 percent among chemical products, foodstuffs, and public utilities. They dropped by 95 percent for press and publishing companies. Overall, profits rose from 15.9 to 19 billion euros. (AGI). .