Barcelona is the sixth best European city to locate a business

The Catalan capital is considered the best city for quality of life. However, it does not reach the top 5 regarding telecommunications, international transport, and market access.


October 13, 2011 10:54 PM

Barcelona (ACN).- Barcelona is the sixth best city in Europe in which to set up a business. The Catalan capital is just behind London, Paris, Frankfurt, Amsterdam and Berlin, according to the European ranking list compiled each year by the real estate consultancy firm Cushman & Wakefield and released this Thursday. Despite this recognition, Barcelona drops one place compared to 2010, when it was the fifth best city in Europe to locate a business. However, Barcelona continues to be the city in Europe with the best quality of life. In addition, the Catalan capital is the third city in Europe with the most valued brand.

Barcelona is one of Europe’s best cities to locate a business according to Cushman & Wakefield, which each year ranks European cities in several categories in its ‘European Cities Monitor’. In the 2011 ranking regarding the best European city to locate a business, Barcelona occupied the sixth position, loosing one spot when compared with 2010. Barcelona is above Madrid, which is ranked seventh in 2011.The list takes into account twelve indicators. Barcelona could be in a better ranking position if it had better telecommunications, international transport (mostly international flights), market access, and English language skills. Madrid jumped three places in 2011 precisely because of the improvement in market access.

Barcelona, the best European city to live in

In 2011, Barcelona holds the top spot in the rankings regarding quality of life. The Catalan capital is the city in the continent with the best quality of life, according to the Cushman & Wakefield analysis. Barcelona holds the number one position in this ranking, followed by Stockholm, Zurich, Genoa, and Madrid. Barcelona improves its position in the ranking of “pollution levels”; now Barcelona is the 12th city in Europe in this category, above cities such as Dublin, Berlin, Brussels, and Frankfurt, among many others.

Quality of life is an important factor, which is increasingly valued, in the decision about where to locate a business, explains Oriol Barrachina, partner and director of C&W Barcelona. Barrachina presented the report to the press. “We are not only a city of sun, beach and paella”, he said; “we have the minimum needed and indispensable levels to be considered as a potential centre to locate a business”. In the same or similar conditions, the fact of offering a very good quality of life can be the key factor for making managers decide to locate their business in Barcelona.

The ‘European Cities Monitor’, which is being compiled by Cushman & Wakefield since 1990, analysed twelve indicators as well as two open questions about the awareness levels of the interviewees with the cities ranked and with the cities with the greatest branding. Regarding the first question –awareness levels–, Barcelona is placed third in the ranking, just below London and Paris; considering the best branding, the Catalan capital is perceived as the second best one, above cities such as Paris, Berlin, Madrid, Amsterdam,. Frankfurt, and Brussels. According to Barrachina, these results show that Barcelona has a very good brand abroad as a business city. However, the C&W partner indicates that living out of a brand is not sustainable if homework to improve the weakest elements are not made.

Telecommunications, market access, international transport and English skills, factors to improve

In general terms, Barcelona occupies a very high position among European cities as a place to locate a business. Furthermore, in some concrete aspects, the Catalan capital is recognised as the best city in Europe or within the top 3. However, in other specific ranking, Barcelona is not so well perceived and there is significant room for improvement. Barcelona’s weakest points are the quality of telecommunications, international transport, market access and English skills.

In the 2011 ranking, Barcelona occupied the 19th position regarding market access, far from Madrid (5th), Berlin (6th), Hamburg (7th), Milan (10th) or Genova (14th). In telecommunications quality, Barcelona is 20th, below Munich (5th), Amsterdam (7th), Helsinki (8th), Madrid (11th), Düsseldorf (15th), Copenhagen (17th) and Glasgow (19th). The international transport ranking puts Barcelona in 12th position, below Brussels (5th), Madrid (7th), Manchester (10th) and Berlin (11th). Finally, English skills are also reducing Barcelona’s general positions, as “English is the language of multinational companies”, explains Barrachina. Barcelona is 17th, together with Hamburg; they are followed byMadrid (19th), Prague (20th), Bucharest (22nd), Milan (24th), Moscow or Vienna (27th).

Barcelona is already working to improve in these areas

Some of these elements are very likely to improve in the coming years. For instance, telecommunications quality should improve now that Barcelona has been confirmed as the Mobile World Capital, hosting the world’s main trade fair for the mobile phone industry every year. Besides, Barcelona is making a real effort to make Barcelona El Prat Airport a hub with intercontinental flights, linking the main European cities with North and South America, as well as North Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Barcelona’s port is already the world’s fourth main port regarding cruise boat passengers. International transport would therefore improve in the coming years, in parallel to market access. If the Mediterranean Railway Corridor becomes a reality, freight trains will go non-stop from Barcelona to Central and Northern Europe. This would be combined with Barcelona Port, which is becoming one of the continents main platforms for container distribution. The Mediterranean Railway Corridor would also offer businesspeople direct high-speed train services to France, Switzerland, Germany or Italy, as well as to the South of Spain, travelling along the Mediterranean coast.

Regarding office prices and quality, Barcelona is in the same position as Madrid, in the 11th place of the ranking. They are above Frankfurt (18th), London (24th), and Paris (28th). Regarding office availability Barcelona is sixth among the rest of European cities, above Frankfurt (9th), London (10th), Brussels (11th), and Paris (13th).

When it comes to staff costs, Barcelona is in a competitive level, in the 11th position. Madrid is 9th, Glasgow 10th, Athens 12th and Berlin 15th. Bucharest (1st), Warsaw (2nd), Bratislava (3rd), Lisbon (4th) and Istanbul (5th) are the European cities with cheaper human resources. In addition, the report also takes into account what they call “political climate” regarding the fiscal incentives for business; in other words, how business friendly the involved governments are. Barcelona is 16th, followed by Paris (17th), Madrid (18th) and Stockholm (19th). The top places are Dublin, Bratislava and London.

London, Paris and Frankfurt, the top three

The UK capital, the French capital and the German financial capital are the best cities in Europe to locate a business in general terms according to C&W. London, Paris and Frankfurt have been in these positions without interruption since the ranking started in 1990. In 2011, they are followed by Amsterdam and Berlin. Barcelona is in sixth position, followed by Madrid (7th), Brussels (8th), Munich (9th) and Zurich (10th). Therefore, Germany leads the top 10 with 3 cities, while Spain is the only European country with 2 cities at the top of the list.