Last year, the First Mover Group, a Norwegian project management and relocation business with 450 employees across Scandinavia, acted in the true spirit of its name. Not deterred by the significant obstacles presented by the pandemic, management decided the time was right to expand its European presence. In December, the group opened its German new home in Krefeld in the heart of the Rhineland, one of the most densely populated regions in Europe.
Martin Grønberg Myrold, managing director for Germany, worked with Germany Trade & Invest (GTAI) to find a location for the logistics company during this unusually challenging time. “Coronavirus has forced companies to modernize and change their workspaces,” Myrold says. “There’s excellent infrastructure between the big cities, so we can serve about 18 million people within an hour of our office.”
First Mover Group is hardly an outlier. Germany continues to attract international companies with its central European location, strong domestic market and extensive export expertise. Even as the coronavirus pandemic disrupted Germany’s attempts to maintain “business as usual” in 2020, the logistics sector proved resilient.
“Revenue in the logistics sector in Germany has doubled in the past 20 years, proving itself to be an enormously important driver of growth,” says Christina Thurner, a board member of logistics company LOXXESS and the German Logistics Association (BVL).
Overall, Germany’s logistics sector has over 60,000 companies with three million plus employees, accounting for roughly EUR 285 billion revenue in 2019. “The pandemic made the systemic relevance of logistics clear for the first time to a large part of the population,” Thurner says. “Despite national borders closing, goods arrived at supermarkets, medicines at pharmacies, and medical products at hospitals and care facilities. And the public recognized the important work by logistics professionals, such as truck drivers.”
The pandemic also showed that “lean and mean” supply chains might not have enough of a buffer to get a company through a rough patch. “Covid-19 taught us that if you’re too reliant on any one supply chain, and there’s a disruption, you might risk scrambling to find a replacement,” says GTAI logistics expert David Chasdi. “What used to be ‘just in time,’ has become ‘just in case.’”