Bremen’s trading companies have a long tradition of import and export. Nowadays, they send products to countries across the globe and import goods that arrive in Bremen and Bremerhaven before being dispatched all over Europe, so the city continues to be a springboard to the world.
As long ago as the 11th century, seafarers and merchants from Bremen were active throughout the North Sea region, laying the foundations of an important trading hub. For centuries, Bremen was a mainstay of North European trade. With industrialisation came the establishment of Bremen companies that survive to this day, such as C. Melchers, which can trace its origins back to 1806.
Today, the logistics sector is one of the city’s main employers. The following article takes a look at ten major international import/export and logistics companies. All of these businesses have at least one base in Bremen and several international branches.
Ten Bremen companies involved in trade, import and export
1. BLG Logistics Group AG & Co. KG
The Bremen logistics giant has sites in twelve countries and generates revenue of more than €1 billion per year. The company’s focus is on vehicle and consumer goods logistics, but it is also active in other areas of transport. In addition to its head office, BLG operates at a number of other sites, including docks, in Bremen and Bremerhaven.
2. Kühne + Nagel (AG & Co.) KG
Founded in Bremen in 1890, Kühne + Nagel is one of the world’s largest haulage companies and logistics providers. Although the company’s headquarters are now in Switzerland, the German head office remains in Bremen. It employs around 700 people in Bremen and has a total of about 15,000 staff at more than 130 sites around the world.
3. Röhlig Logistics GmbH & Co. KG
The Bremen company has bases all over the world, with 150 offices in 30 countries employing a total of 2,400 people and covering the entire spectrum of logistics services. The company headquarters have been located in Bremen for 150 years. Since 2008, they have been situated at the entrance to Bremen’s Überseestadt district, one of Europe’s largest urban development projects.
4. C. Melchers GmbH & Co. KG
A quick look at the history of Melchers explains where the company gets its expertise in international trade. It has been operating in Asia for over 150 years and was one of the first German firms to do business in China. Today, Melchers employees 1,700 people around the world. The group provides a wide range of services related to import and export, from distribution, buying and selling, procurement and logistics all the way to software production. The head office remains in Bremen.
5. DSV Air & Sea GmbH
With almost 50,000 employees, the Danish DSV corporation is one of the largest logistics service providers in the world. Its activities cover every segment of the sector, including land, air and sea freight, project logistics and warehousing. DSV’s German head office is in Bremen, where it employs a total of around 250 people in four local companies. The Bremen base was established in 2005, when the Danish group took over local logistics company J.H. Bachmann.
6. IPSEN LOGISTICS GmbH (Gebrüder Weiss)
Ipsen was founded in Bremen in 1891. The company’s international activities cover the areas of sea, air and rail freight. In addition to Germany, Ipsen operates in Algeria, Belgium, Malaysia, Morocco and Poland. In 2020, the business was sold to the Austrian logistics group Gebrüder Weiss. A subsidiary of the company that provides industrial packaging solutions and is also located in Bremen was not affected by the deal and remains in the hands of the previous owners.
7. Lexzau, Scharbau GmbH & Co. KG
Founded in Hamburg, based in Bremen, more commonly known as the Leschaco Group – with 72 of its own offices and more than 2,500 employees in over 22 countries, the group is one of the largest freight haulage companies in the city. In addition to a traditional transport business, the group also includes the IT company Logward, which develops cloud-based logistics software.
8. VOLLERS GROUP GmbH
Vollers specialises in the trading of commodities, primarily coffee, cocoa, tea, cotton and metals, along with others. The company imports and exports these commodities, stores them, transships them and even processes them if customers request it. Vollers operates at international level, with sites in the Netherlands, the UK, Italy, Russia, Latvia and Estonia.
9. Karl Gross Internationale Spedition GmbH
The haulage company Karl Gross has bases around the world. As well as traditional sea freight services, the company also provides project logistics, i.e. the shipment of goods that are too large for containers. Karl Gross employs more than 100 people in Bremen and also has its own offices in target markets such as China, Vietnam, Chile, Brazil, the US and the Netherlands.
10. Hellmann Worldwide Logistics SE & Co. KG
Headquartered in Osnabrück, Hellmann is one of Germany’s largest freight haulage companies, employing more than 20,000 people in almost every country of the world. In Bremen, the group operates two sites, one of which measures over 10,000 square metres and is located in Bremen’s Cargo Distribution Center (GVZ), one of the world’s leading cargo distribution centres.
For details of other companies in Bremen’s logistics industry, please see Ten logistics companies from Bremen.