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Expansion and sustainability despite the pandemic - Raben Group sums up 2021

2022.02.08

Acquisitions, sustainability and summary of 90 years of operations - these topics dominated Raben Group’s business last year. Add to this investments, innovations and awards to have the full picture of achievements of one of the Europe's leading logistics companies, which has not only resisted the pandemic but also found opportunities for further growth.

2021 was another year of struggle with the pandemic. Although the initial shock had passed and the world was slowly getting used to the new normal in all walks of life, the COVID-19 pandemic continued to dictate terms in the economy and beyond it. Uneven economic recovery across Europe and outside it caused by varying degrees of restrictions and different government support mechanisms for businesses; disruptions in the supply chain from China resulting in shortages of certain components, downtimes and even short-term factory closures; the growth of B2C deliveries increasing traffic on European roads - all these difficulties impacted the transport sector which was additionally affected by labour shortages and a decline in the availability of resources, as well as rampant inflation and increased logistics infrastructure costs.

“Last year's pandemic was no longer a surprise and because of many adverse developments in the economy, we cannot count it as an easy year. However, we didn't slow down, and we did our best to “deliver” results to our customers and give them reasons to be happy. Our priorities haven't changed: we continue to put the safety and health of our employees and counterparties first while striving to ensure the continuity of our customers' businesses by offering them the highest level of service. This is largely due to our dedicated, professional team who fully deserve to be called “People with Drive”. I am really proud that I can work with such people” - emphasizes Ewald Raben, CEO of Raben Group.

Raben Group ended the year with an satisfying result achieving revenue of over 1.5 billion Euro. The logistics provider consistently served industries such as food (29%), consumer technology (21%), automotive (18%), retail (12%), chemicals (11%), FMCG non-food (7%), and others. In terms of the type of services provided, these were mainly road transport (65%), contract logistics (12%), FTL & Intermodal (9%), Fresh Logistics (6%), 4PL (3%), sea & air (3%), and others.

“Revenue for 2021 is satisfactory and we can congratulate ourselves as it is the result of our flexibility, diverse portfolio of customers and cooperation with them, as well as technological advancement” - comments Ewald Raben. – “Looking back, I find that the past year was not a time of going with the flow; on the contrary, it was a period full of positive changes. New companies joined Raben, we entered the fourteenth market (Greece), we made a number of investments and a lot of valuable initiatives in the area of sustainable development (SLL loan, green energy PPA). It was also the 90th anniversary of our company. While celebrating, we decided to do something good to leave a reminder of this event for future generations - as a result of the voting crowning the Eco2Way anniversary tour, we are supporting an oasis for the white stork in Czechia. “

On the occasion of its anniversary, the logistics operator took Internet users on a journey through places that have been hit hard by the negative effects of human activity. The Eco2Way tour took 5 months and led through 11 European countries where Raben has its business units. The crowning moment of the action was an online voting, during which three out of 21 previously presented aid projects competed for funding from Raben Group for their implementation. Thanks to the votes of Internet users, the already mentioned initiative to build an oasis for the white stork in Czechia won. Additionally, 10,000 trees were planted in the Table Mountain National Park in Poland and its buffer zone to celebrate the company's 90th anniversary, and an additional 3,500 fir trees were planted under the long-standing “E-invoice - higher culture” programme on behalf of the operator's customers who agreed to switch printed invoices to electronic ones.

Raben in Europe

For Raben Group it is hard to imagine a year without expansion and that is why the last twelve months brought further acquisitions. Raben Group has entered its fourteenth market on the Old Continent with the addition of the leading Greek logistics provider, Intertrans S.A., in 2021. The company offers 11,000 m2 of warehouse capacity, has a fleet of more than 90 trucks and employs 70 people. The head office is located in Piraeus and the depots are in Thessaloniki and Heraklion, Crete. Raben will have the European transport network of Intertrans at its disposal, which consists of 23 HUBs and 17 partners in 12 countries across Europe.

As of 1 January 2021, Raben Group owns 100% of the shares in the BAS Group. Raben took over all the company depots in the Netherlands, Slovakia and Italy as well as a team of 250 experienced employees. Through this acquisition, Raben has increased its network in South-West Europe and strengthened its position in the field of contract logistics and intermodal transport. It is important to emphasize that Raben Group's expansion is sustainable: in the case of new members, not only their business potential and the benefits they can bring to the whole organisation are taken into account but also their values, such as social responsibility, ethics and integrity, innovation and “green” approach to environmental issues.

Finally, it is worth mentioning that at the end of the year two warehouses of Raben Trans European Hungary Kft were opened – one in Dunaharaszti (with the capacity of 30,000 m2) and one in Pécs (10,000 m2), which had been customised and tailored to the unique needs of the operator, and which now employ 100 people.

Raben Group also intensively developed its network of international connections. By the end of 2021, the company was already operating 100 daily direct connections to CEE countries, carrying an average of more than 70,000 shipments per month. ETA, i.e. real-time shipment tracking, is available on all of these routes.

Raben in Germany

In Germany, Raben acquired Luible Logistik GmbH, a family-owned business in Upper Swabia, with the depot in Leipheim and all 130 employees of the company. Raben Group has thus expanded its groupage network on the German market and strengthened its position in combined rail and road transport. The impact of the coronavirus on the economy was still very much visible. In Germany, this translated into a significant increase in private customers who ordered a lot of goods from DIY-shops. As a result, it became necessary to restructure certain parts of the business, such as increasing the availability of customer service staff, expanding the number of phone lines in the depots and additional contacts on the website. All this to meet the expectations of customers.

Another important project in Germany was the launch of daily services to Portugal by Raben Trans European Germany GmbH thanks to the cooperation with the local partner, Torrestir. The company, which has 16 branches in Portugal and over 30,000 m2 of warehouse capacity, guarantees fast and efficient logistics services in this part of Europe.

Raben in Poland

Once again Raben Group customers have proved that they can be relied on. The partnership attitude of the businesses forming the logistics market in Poland, jointly developed solutions and open discussions about plans and forecasts enabled Raben to successfully face the economic situation. 2021 brought new customers to the company portfolio and strengthened the relationships with long-standing partners. Among other things, Bolsius extended its contract with the logistics operator for the next five years. Bonduelle which has been cooperating with Raben Group in Hungary since 2011, ordered the storage of its products in the “green” facility in Ruda Śląska last year.

“2021 was a year of anniversaries for us: 90 years of Raben Group operations on the European market and 30 years of business in Poland, but also many challenges. I am referring to the high internal demand and the trend among manufacturers to relocate production facilities from Asia to Europe, including Poland, and thus to change the existing supply chains and their centres of gravity, i.e. optimal locations for distribution warehouses. Another problem is the increasing lack of availability of employees and drivers or difficulties in obtaining new trucks” - Janusz Anioł, General Director of Raben Logistics Polska summarizes the last twelve months. – “Nevertheless, we will do our best not to disappoint the trust placed in us. Our priorities are invariably the highest quality of service and stability of cooperation, while our advantages are multiproduct and comprehensive offer as well as the ability to adapt to a new situation or openness to change. We work according to the motto “Your partner in logistics” and these are not just empty words.”

 It was also an intensive and busy period for Fresh Logistics Polska.

“Undoubtedly, the past year brought about a significant rebound in the transport and warehousing market compared to earlier months. The revival of the economy, lifting restrictions, and desire to return to normal human relations boosted consumption. From a business point of view it was a positive trend and the scale of growth surprised even the most experienced players. The changes were so dynamic that in many cases the logistics industry struggled to provide enough vehicles or warehouse capacity to meet the market needs. Taking all the circumstances into account, ultimately it was not the price but the possibility to ensure continuity of deliveries that became the key decision factor for the customers” - says Tomasz Olenderek, General Director of Fresh Logistics Polska – “Last year Fresh Logistics witnessed the development of digitisation of processes which resulted in building logistics in the spirit of paperless culture and the application of RPA (Robotic Process Automation). Paperless logistics benefits not only us and our partners, but the entire market. Adapting digital solutions has grown in importance and has extended to all levels of our organization. In addition to its negative effects, the pandemic showed that digitisation, remote working on a massive scale and relying more on new technologies can be effective and often be the only way out.”

The company continued its Better Every Day continuous business improvement programme based on lean management tools, focusing on executing processes in a way that builds value for customers. Fresh Logistics focuses on innovation through computerisation and integration of operational and IT systems. The best proof of this is the MyPlan application which supports timely departures/arrivals of goods to warehouses. The company was awarded the “Innovative Company” title by the editors of “Gazeta Finansowa” and “Home & Market” for the above-mentioned solution.

The company also made many new investment projects. The company started the expansion of its warehouse in Grodzisk Mazowiecki, which is scheduled for completion in the first quarter of 2022. The new facility offers an additional 11,500 pallet places for fresh food products and is divided into 3 chambers allowing for storage of goods requiring different temperature ranges. After the completion of the investment, the distribution centre in Grodzisk Mazowiecki will have a total of nearly 15,500 m2 of high storage warehouse and over 3,300m2 of cross-docking area, which corresponds to more than 22 000 pallet places in total.

Sustainability

The scale of last year's Raben Group activities in the area of sustainability is impressive as such, but even more so in the context of the challenges which the whole industry is facing nowadays. The company is doing a lot on its own in this area - a sign of that is the sustainability strategy which took its final shape in 2021 and will remain in force until the middle of this decade - but also together with other entities. The logistics operator joined the CSR Europe Responsible Trucking platform which prepared a document entitled “Social standards in transport” regarding drivers' working conditions. In addition, at the end of the year it became a signatory to the prestigious United Nations Global Compact initiative, which brings together more than 13,000 organizations working in the spirit of sustainability. For Raben, achieving its objectives in this area has the same high priority as effective operations, so it is not surprising that some of the Group's undertakings are at the crossroads of sustainability and business, and at the same time have groundbreaking significance for both areas.

A good example is the Sustainability Linked Loan, a five-year sustainability linked loan of €225 million. Raben has paved the way for other companies as it is one of the first club SLL loans in the European logistics sector and the second such transaction in Poland. The margin depends on meeting the conditions set by the five environmental, social and governance key performance indicators for the sector. A milestone in the area of emissions reduction is the conclusion of a PPA (Power Purchase Agreement) with PGE Obrót. Pursuant to the agreement, between 2023 and 2029 Raben Group in Poland will use 100% zero-emission energy. In 2022, dedicated photovoltaic farms will be built with a total area of about 40 hectares and a capacity of about 35 MWp, supplying 35,000 MWh per year - which is the entire demand for electricity in all facilities of the Group in Poland.

The regular pro-environmental project is the already mentioned tree planting, and this year it was accompanied by occasional, unique events - voting for eco-projects related to the anniversary, or substantive support for the online game EcoExperimentarium on the topic of sustainable transport. Thanks to this, children will learn what the carbon footprint is in an accessible and engaging form.

In the area of social impact Raben did not rest on its laurels either, carrying out further activities both inside and outside the organisation. Raben Logistics Polska made it possible for Nestlé S.A. to deliver about 4.5 million of food products and bottles of water to medics. For the second time already, the logistics operator was a partner of the Noble Gift - during the Weekend of Miracles of the 21st edition of the action it transported gifts for over 700 families. 33 Raben trucks travelled over 9 thousand km and transported nearly 600 pallets to about 60 delivery points throughout Poland. Moreover, Raben again took part in the Christmas convoy which set off from Mühlheim-Kärlich in Germany to the Balkans and Ukraine carrying gifts for local children - 156,234 packages in total. 15 German depots were involved in the action and Marco Raben was traditionally behind the wheel of the truck going to Romania.

In 2021, the innovative, gamification-based Manager of Choice programme which allowed 1,000 managers from all markets to develop professional competencies was completed. Polish workers, on the other hand, as part of volunteering and exploring new passions, could learn about the fascinating life of bees. The company's head office in Robakowo near Poznan became a home for bee families that settled five hives thanks to the “Drive to Bee” project. The Raben Apiary not only supports biodiversity but also contributes to the integration of employees. The project is expected to continue at the company's other locations as well.

Awards

The intensity of activities in the area of sustainability can be matched perhaps only by the number of awards presented to Raben Group in 2021 - to individual companies, people, solutions and tools. More than 20 titles, awards and high places in various rankings recognise both the overall level of service and operational excellence as well as specific aspects of the company's activities: innovation, commitment to sustainability or initiatives for employees.