This week it was Grupo Jorge, last week Inditex and, a couple of weeks ago, Faes Farma. These are some of the recent announcements of companies that have decided to set up in some of the Aragonese logistics platforms or to expand their plots. This news highlights an increasingly clear fact: the region is a logistics giant that continues to grow. With more than 18 million square meters of available land, the region’s potential in the sector is unquestionable and the public administrations are seeking to make the most of its virtues.
“Aragon’s position as a logistics hub is absolutely predominant. At the national level, of course,” emphasizes Pedro Sas, the manager of Aragon Logistics Platform (APL), the public company of the regional government that manages the PLAZA (Zaragoza), Platea (Teruel), PLHUS (Huesca), PLZUERA (Zuera) and PLFRAGA (Fraga) sites. Five spaces, two in the province of Zaragoza, two in the province of Huesca and one in the province of Teruel, which are adding new businesses and, for the moment, do not seem to find a ceiling.
“We are growing. The truth is that the Government of Aragon has taken it as an absolutely strategic issue and has been promoting it for many years, the last five years, since the creation of APL, even more; it is a clearly upward path”, Sas emphasizes.
“Aragon’s position as a logistics hub is absolutely predominant. At the national level, of course” Pedro Sas, the manager of Aragon Logistics Platform
The geographical location, privileged in Spain and as a route to France, is one of its main virtues. In fact, 70% of the country’s GDP is concentrated in the area of 300 kilometers around Zaragoza and more than 20 million people live there. The interconnectivity it offers, with road, rail and air transport connections, and its proximity to some of Spain’s main ports, also stand out.
Recognition in Spain and Europe
But these are not the only reasons that have led to growth. The support provided by public administrations to position Aragon on the logistics map and the “social peace” that companies find when they arrive in the region add to the incentives.
All this has led, for example, to one of its platforms, PLAZA, being ranked as the fourth best on the continent, according to the European Freight Village ranking, or to this Zaragoza node recently winning the awards for innovation and quality at the C Logistics and Handling Awards.
This growth is reflected, on the one hand, in the expansion of the land and, on the other, in the attraction of new companies. On the first point, it is enough to recall the expansion of PLAZA, 2.4 million square meters which will begin to be developed at the end of next year or at the beginning of 2024, or the 1.5 million square meters of the latest addition, the incipient platform of Zuera. Precisely, and regarding the second aspect, it is worth mentioning the confirmation of the arrival of Grupo Jorge to its lands, which took place this week.
This company will use 350,000 meters in the town of Zaragoza, which will be “a very important boost”, considers the manager of APL. In fact, he recalls that this platform was originally intended to house the possible Volkswagen battery factory, which in the end opted for Sagunto (Valencia). However, Sas explains, the Government of Aragon and APL “saw that there was interest on the part of private customers in setting up in Zuera” and decided to continue with the project. “The bet has turned out well,” he concludes.
Large companies and XXL plots
An arrival which, he warns, will not be the last. “There is sure to be an important announcement in the near future,” says the head of APL, who explains that logistics is “a thriving sector” for which companies are “continually making requests” to the public company. And he summarizes the process when this happens: “A company that comes interested is a company that does not escape us”.
Regarding these requests, he adds that they come “from very important companies and, basically, for XXL plots”, i.e., those with a size greater than 100,000 square meters.
Currently, logistics accounts for 5.5% of Aragon’s GDP, explains Sas, a figure that he estimates will increase in the future to easily reach 10%. At the moment, he adds, more than 20,000 people are affiliated to the Social Security system in the region.
In fact, this growth could find a strong boost in the railway freeway project between Algeciras (Cádiz) and Zaragoza. A connection that has “several derivatives”, he says, such as the one that would mean in energy savings, since it would take away from the road “thousands of trucks that go every day from Algeciras to PLAZA, which are more than 1,000 km each way”.
In addition, this rail connection would put the Zaragoza platform “in the rail logistics center of Spain and Europe” and connect PLAZA, through the port of Algeciras, with North Africa. “We are talking about increasing the volume of goods that would pass through PLAZA to a very high percentage,” he predicts.
APL, a bet that brings together logistics policies
But what exactly is the public company APL? It is a public entity that last April celebrated its first five years of existence and whose goal is to maintain Aragon’s leading position in logistics. And what allies does it have? Other public bodies, such as local and provincial institutions, or entities such as Adif and Aena, and, of course, the private sector.
Within its scope of action, in addition to the management and sale of plots of land, it also includes projects to improve intermodality in Aragon, such as the development of the Algeciras-Zaragoza rail freeway, the railroad terminals of the platforms or the Teruel Airport (PLATA), among others.
And, of course, APL also abounds in research in the sector through the Instituto Tecnológico de Aragón, among other organizations, and training, an area in which the Zaragoza Logistic Center (ZLC), associated with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the APL Chair at the University of Zaragoza or agreements on vocational training with the Inaem or the CIFPA stand out.
The synergies, obviously, also reach the private sector, which will ultimately make use of the facilities. One of the mainstays of this relationship is the Aragonese logistics cluster, ALIA, which already has more than 100 members, with a combined turnover of 7,193 million euros. “Private investment is key,” Sas concludes.