In a post-COVID world, why make Barcelona-Catalonia your logistics hub?

Catalan Economy

25 Mar 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown what an important component the logistics sector is to the world. Supplier chains have been tested to their limits with agility and resilience proving to be the two most sought out characteristics.

Catalonia’s logistics sector, a point of reference in Southern Europe, has also been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak and has shown flexibility and capacity to adapt to this new context. Furthermore, the growth of e-commerce in Catalonia has boosted logistics and its related services, such as warehousing, transport and last mile distribution.

For companies looking to locate a logistics hub in Southern Europe, these are Catalonia-Barcelona’s unrivalled capacities:

Access to a market of more than 400 million people

Companies in Barcelona-Catalonia can connect to 400 million consumers in Europe and North Africa in less than 48 hours, either by boat, airplane, truck or train. Its Mediterranean location and its close cultural and economic links to Latin America have made it a top-ranking location to distribute goods and services to major markets.

Barcelona-Catalonia’s industrial specialization and strong entrepreneurial base allows for powerful partnership opportunities. Currently, there are 29 clusters in the region that bring together 2,600 firms and more than 300,000 workers, accounting for 30% of Catalonia's GDP.

An integrated logistics hub

Catalonia is Southern Europe’s only location that concentrates, in a 12-kilometre radius, a port with excellent maritime connectivity, an international airport and an area of logistics activities of over 200 hectares with global and specialized operators. Moreover, companies can benefit from complete cargo train connections from Barcelona to the rest of Europe with weekly services. 

Catalonia’s excellent geostrategic position allows for efficient intercontinental connections to Asia and the Americas. Direct container services offer a record transit time from Asia to Europe: 21 days from China, for instance.

Foreign investors have shown their commitment to Barcelona-Catalonia

Top international companies such as Ikea, Decathlon, Lidl, Kiabi, Mango, Amazon, Maersk, UPS and Keeway Motors have all located their logistics hubs in Catalonia.

Chinese company Keeway Motors, which imports motorbikes from China to be distributed in Spain, will open a new centre close to Barcelona that will not only act as a distribution site, but also as an R+D lab for motorbike development. General director of the company, Shanmei Yu, stresses in this interview how easy it is to make logistics operations with Catalonia from China.

Other examples of foreign investments in Catalonia are Maersk’s decision to open its first Southern European platform in Barcelona; Veepee’s distribution centre and digital factory in Catalonia for all Southern Europe; UPS’s new Barcelona Hub of more than 24,000m²; Henkel’s decision to locate the company’s most advanced logistics centre in Catalonia, and XPO Logistics construction of a new transport and distribution centre close to Barcelona.

A specialized logistics operator network

Logistics specialization is an added value for companies that need extra packaging services, product certification or handling, as is the case of automotive, chemical, or textile sectors.

In Barcelona-Catalonia, a strong network of global logistics operators, specialized and multi-sectorial, contribute to the development and growth of the logistics and e-commerce sector. Some of them are Seur, MRW, Ibercondor, Logifashion, DHL, Fedex, UPS, Rhenus Logistics, ID Logistics or DB Schenker.

South of Barcelona, the group of companies located close to the Port of Tarragona represent 25% of Spain’s total chemical industry and generate 60% of its total import & export volume, thus positioning the Port of Tarragona as the Southern Europe’s leading petrochemical complex.

Available well-connected land to locate warehouses

Barcelona-Catalonia offer available plots of land that can adapt to any infrastructure needs. Throughout the region there are different logistics infrastructures, both public and private, which allow warehousing possibilities that benefit from speedy and efficient transport connections.

Catalonia’s total logistics zones add up to almost 8 million square meters, which represent 29% of the total logistics area of ​​warehouses and platforms of Spain (CIMALSA- Logistics Centres of Catalonia). Barcelona tops the ranking on the number of square meters of logistics area with about 4.9 million square meters.

CIMALSA- Logistics Centres of Catalonia, a Catalan Government body, manages various logistics infrastructure available throughout Catalonia (see interactive map above), such as in Lleida, Montblanc, Ebre and the Empordà, among others. The port authorities of Barcelona and Tarragona also manage logistics land, as well as AENA, the company that operates the Barcelona Airport.

Embracing the digital revolution

The logistics sector is embracing the digital revolution in Barcelona-Catalonia. Supply chains are being digitalized and intelligent facilities will be able to perform more efficient delivery management.

Without a doubt, the most widespread technology today among logistics companies is IoT (Internet of Things). The massive implementation of IoT-enabled sensors allows trucks, ships and warehouses to be connected to the Internet in order to obtain information and optimize the processes.

Last mile solutions

Demand for urban logistics has significantly increased over recent years up until the outbreak of COVID-19. Growth in e-commerce in 2020 has accelerated the development of sustainable last mile delivery in Catalonia. Especially, in its capital Barcelona, in order to reduce traffic, noise and pollution. Here, the City Council has promoted two distribution microhubs that distribute via bicycles or clean vehicles, and this is planned to expand to one microhub per city district.

Distribution is further being transformed with electric bikes and gas-run vans delivering more efficiently and sustainably in areas of difficult access or with time restrictions, such as the Old Town district. Private initiatives are also on the rise, with new operators arriving on the market.

Looking for the best location for a logistics hub in Southern Europe? Contact us!

Catalonia Trade & Investment, the Port of Barcelona and the City Hall of Barcelona work in alliance through the Barceloc platform to offer a soft landing service to companies wishing to invest in Barcelona-Catalonia.

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