Germany has been Poland's most important and largest trading partner for years, which is reflected in the structure of Raben Group's European connections. The logistics operator currently offers 120 daily lines connecting depots in both countries. Since 2018, the network has been steadily expanded and refined, with spectacular results: an increase in shipments of more than 70% in four years and 1.2 million pallets transported in 2021 alone.
The western neighbour has been Poland's No. 1 trading partner continuously since the early 1990s, both in imports and exports - its share has never fallen below 20%. Raben Group has been operating in Poland for just as long: in 1991, Ewald Raben, the current CEO of the company, opened the first Polish depot in Baranowo near Poznań. Therefore, it is safe to say that Raben has been able to make a significant contribution to trade between the countries over three decades thanks to its business profile.
More than chemicals and second-hand cars
In the first quarter of this year, Germany's share of Polish exports amounted to 27.7% and 20.4% of imports, down 1.4 percentage points and 1.7 percentage points respectively, compared to the same period in 2021. The upside of this situation is still a positive balance of PLN 20.1 billion, besides, it is worth noting that Germany is quite ahead of the next countries on the list - Czechia, second in terms of exports, has a share more than four times lower (6.2%), while China, occupying a similar position in terms of imports, has a share of 14.9%, which is less by more than 1/4.
When it comes to goods imported into Poland, Germany is commonly associated with cars that the previous owner carefully kept under a blanket, and household chemicals, the object of desire of every perfect housewife. As it turns out, these associations are not unfounded: machinery, transport equipment and devices, industrial goods, and chemicals and related products are the top three import categories by value. Among export products, machinery, transport equipment and devices also dominate (in value), in addition to various industrial products and goods, followed by chemicals and food. This partly coincides with the scope of Raben Group’s operations, which serves the food, chemical, automotive, technology and retail industries, among others.
120 direct connections daily
Trade generates a huge demand for the transport of goods. Here it should be noted that Germany is also leading the way in the field of road transport, with a share of almost 38% in terms of value in 2020. The answer to this situation is the ever-increasing number of connections between the Polish and German depots of Raben Group. Every day, 68 trucks set off from the four central HUBs in Poland at different times to reach the depots delivering customer shipments as close as possible to the final recipients across the western border. This is a huge advantage of Raben Group over the competition as the average distance of distribution of groupage shipments from the cross-dock warehouse in Germany is about 50 km. A groupage system organized in this way also helps reduce the operator's environmental impact. Filled trailers and optimally planned volumes to specific areas of the country translate into lower CO2 emissions, as goods are not transloaded several times and vehicles do not cover empty miles.
It is noteworthy that a few years ago Raben Logistics Polska used only one terminal in Poland, in Legnica, just off the A4 motorway, while now there are three additional points located around major industrial centres: Gądki near Poznań, Gliwice/Sosnowiec in Upper Silesia, and Chlebnia near Warsaw. This system also provides great opportunities for German customers, as each day in the evening export goods leave the home depot and go directly to Poland. The number of lines - 52 - is impressive and makes it possible for Raben Trans European Germany's local structures to fulfil customer orders without restrictions.
Naturally, such an elaborate system was not created in a month or even a year but is the result of years of work. During the past four years, we have devoted considerable attention to the development of business in Germany and the daily connections between our largest depots. With our own groupage network and a base of more than 38 transloading depots in the Federal Republic of Germany and 24 similar facilities in Poland, we have created a network of 120 daily direct connection - says Łukasz Lubański, Trade Lane Development Director at Raben Group.
Grow faster than trade
Such business development is significantly aided by acquisitions, of which Raben Group has made several in the German market in recent times. For instance, in 2021 the Group acquired 100% of the shares of Luible Logistik GmbH, a family-owned company in Upper Swabia. Thus it expanded its groupage network in Germany and strengthened its position in road transport. The effects of expanding the network of connections with the western neighbour are impressive. In 2021, which, after all, was still affected by the pandemic, Raben transported more than 430,000 groupage shipments (or more than 1.2 million pallets and 450 million kilograms) between Poland and Germany alone, a year-on-year increase of almost 20%. Investments in this direction have resulted in an increase of more than 70% in shipments since 2018. For comparison - according to official data from the Federal Statistical Office in Wiesbaden, in the same period trade between Poland and Germany increased "only" by 34%.
This excellent result was made possible, among other things, by the company's flexibility and readiness to secure customers' business even in the most difficult times. During the pandemic, the groupage service was not stopped even for a day despite the great uncertainty. Moreover, it proved to be a test of how quickly Raben is able to adapt its business model to changing conditions, which resulted, for instance, from volume differences between months of up to 15,000 shipments. This is a credit to all the Group's employees, especially the drivers and warehouse staff, who allow the company to operate extremely flexibly and respond to rapid changes in the market environment.
Germany is an important market for Poland, but Germany also values this trade partnership. In the midst of the crisis over the conflict in Ukraine and sanctions imposed on Russia, a sizeable group of German companies have "rediscovered" Poland, which is now their country's fifth trading partner. In recent years, Poland and Germany have overtaken economies such as Italy and the United Kingdom in terms of joint trade, and are now just short of France in fourth place. China, the U.S. and the Netherlands - which shows up in the statistics as a very strong exporter to Germany due to the huge volumes of goods coming from the Far East and handled at Dutch ports - are rather out of reach for now. Nonetheless, Poland has potential to be reckoned with - suffice it to say that just 10 years ago it was outside the top ten most important trading partners of the Federal Republic of Germany.
The development of connections between the Polish and German depots of Raben Group is valuable for the economies of both countries. It also represents value for the Group as a whole, as it has initiated a pan-European project to expand its network of connections for greater flexibility and competitiveness. Following this experience, as part of its international connections project, Raben Group intends to create a global network connecting European countries and the fifteen countries where the company has its depots.
 Yearbook of Foreign Trade Statistics, Statistics Poland, Warsaw 2021.
 Foreign trade goods turnover in total and by country in January-March 2022, Statistics Poland, Warsaw, 17.05.2022.
 Yearbook of Foreign Trade Statistics, Statistics Poland, Warsaw 2021.
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