One of European biggest logistics companies — Raben Group, has been on the way and constantly developing for 90 years now, always looking bravely into the future and searching for new challenges. The company focuses on a sustainable supply chain and wants to be the drive which makes the world not only unstoppable but also better, greener. That is why, on the occasion of its anniversary, it invites us to follow the Eco2Way tour across Europe.
In 2021 Raben Group is celebrating its 90th anniversary. 90 years of experience, innovation, and continuous development. And the company will certainly not stop at there.
90 years on the way with ecology
Corporate social responsibility is an inherent part of the DNA of the family company based on a system of values. The company approaches the concept of CSR in a comprehensive manner, integrating socially responsible activities with the business strategy of the organization. Ecology is of great importance for Raben. Every year it invests in more efficient and environmentally friendly transport and storage solutions and plants thousands of trees which neutralize tonnes of CO2. The company is taking a number of measures to meet the climate challenge in the long term. Therefore, it has purchased energy for 2021 and 2022 with a guarantee of origin from renewable sources, which will enable it to reduce emissions by around 30% in terms of direct and indirect emissions and allow it to supply 100% of its own facilities with green electricity.
That is why Raben Group decided to celebrate its 90th anniversary in a rather unusual way, by inviting everyone on an Eco2Way tour around Europe. This extraordinary journey has started on April 1st and will last until the end of August 2021. Company employees and eco-enthusiasts are playing the role of tour guides who present and tell the story of twenty places which are at risk due to climate change. You can follow the entire tour at www.raben90years.com and on the company social media in all 13 markets where Raben has its depots.
Raben Group currently has over 150 branches in 13 European countries, it offers approximately 1,200,000 m2 of warehouse capacity, employs 10,000 employees and each day dispatches over 8,500 trucks on the roads of Europe. However, it all started really inconspicuously from a small Dutch family business. Today, the values characteristic of family-owned organizations are still important to the company, which positively affects employee engagement and relations with customers.
Birth of the global brand
In 1931, in the small town of Meddo-Winterswijk in the Netherlands, Jan W. Raben, grandfather of the current CEO, started to transport products of the local farmers to the market. He started the company which is a global brand today. The next milestone in the history of Raben Group was when the founder’s son, Theo Raben, took over the helm of the company in 1960, and he developed e.g. the transport of textiles to and from Poland. But the first step abroad was taken by the grandson, Ewald. He knew the company from the inside out; he washed trucks on Saturdays already at the age of ten and he worked as a truck driver when he was in college. After the transformation of 1989, he spotted the opportunity for development on the Polish market, and he went there with the aim of setting up a Raben branch. It was then when he bought a map of Poland and marked twelve locations which were to become branches in different parts of the country.
The last 30 years have been a history of continuous development of the company and dynamic expansion into foreign markets, and one of the secrets of the success is the skilful combination of the best of a family business with models taken from corporate management.
Expansion into Europe
Raben Group was developing and it accompanied its customers on their road to business success. In 2002, Fresh Logistics Polska appeared on the market, which specializes in servicing fresh products which require controlled temperature from 0 to +2 (UltraFresh) and from +2 to +6°C in the whole logistics chain.
The period from 2003 to 2010 brought about expansion to new markets. In 2003 the first branch was opened in Ukraine and a year later the operations of Raben Group in Europe covered Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. In 2008, the company entered the Czech and Slovak markets and after two years it was also present in Hungary. 2016 was the beginning of business in Romania. In 2017, the Group acquired a 20% stake in the Italian company SITTAM and since 2020 it has been the sole owner of Raben SITTAM. In 2019, Bulgaria joined the Raben family, where the company opened its first branch in Sofia.
The German market is very important for Raben Group. The company is building up its position there organically and through acquisitions. In 2005 Birkart Systemverkehre was taken over. In 2011, the network of German terminals was expanded through the purchase of Wincanton. In the following years, more companies joined. Currently Raben has its own independent transport network in Germany with 34 branches.
Raben Go East
The Group portfolio is complemented by Raben East which since 2017 has been offering international road transport services, including regular groupage connections with Eastern countries, as well as customs agency services and advisory in organizing transport to Eastern markets. The company services such countries as: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Mongolia, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Turkey, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.
Road to success
As one of the fastest-growing European companies in the logistics industry, Raben Group takes full advantage of the market opportunities which emerged with the opening of European markets and the free flow of goods. It offers comprehensive services: contract logistics, road network (domestic, international and eastbound), transport of fresh products (under the Fresh Logistics brand), FTL & intermodal transport, sea and air freight. The main industries served by the company in 2020 were food (30%), consumer technologies (21%), automotive (17%), retail (12%), chemicals (11%), non-food FMCG (9%). Road transport, which is responsible for 66% of the Group’s turnover, offers a great opportunity for development, but it also poses a challenge Raben reacts to every day by adapting its network of groupage connections adequately to the expectations of customers from all over Europe.
The activities aimed at creating a network of international connections perfectly fit into the mission and vision of the company, and since trucks with the Raben logo can be seen on many transport routes, there is no doubt that every day the Group strives to be “one axle” ahead of its competitors.
Raben Group has been focusing on digitalization on many levels, from physical processes to robotization of office processes using RPA (Robotic Process Automation). In the area of automation, it is implementing advanced IT solutions such as platforms that automatically provide information to customers and platforms which present ETA (estimated time of arrival). In the area of warehouse automation and robotics, implementation processes include devices measuring shipments, autonomous or semi-automated forklifts as well as “cobotic” arms, Internet of Things (IoT) sensors and many other solutions increasing the efficiency of warehousing and transportation processes. In the area of RPA, implementations of software robots supporting or replacing users’ work in particular applications (WMS/TMS/FK) or at the interface of various IT systems need to be emphasised.
In the interest of the safety of deliveries during the pandemic and in order to keep the recommended distance between persons participating in the delivery, Raben Group introduced a new service for groupage shipments called PCD (Picture Confirming Delivery). It consists of touch-free confirmation of delivery using a photo.
Time for the celebration of better tomorrow
The year 2021 will undoubtedly be an interesting milestone in the history of the Raben Group. It is not only another year of development of logistics and new technologies, but above all, a time to think about the future. If the overriding goal is to provide the future generations with the same natural resources as are available now, it is the best foundation for the common efforts to have a better, green Europe.