A manufacturing tour of Spain

Alison Gardner
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When booking a holiday, you might be looking for sun, sea and sand. However, a manufacturer looking to expand operations to a new country may have different priorities, writes Alison Gardner.

Spain has played an important role in European history for centuries, leading the way in exploring the South American coast and establishing Europe as a leader in innovation. The country has the sixth largest population in Europe and is fifth largest economy in the continent.

Spain’s tourism industry is one of the main contributors to its economy, with an estimated 82 million people visiting the country in 2017 with a wide variety of attractive holiday spots. However, manufacturers should explore specific areas for potential expansion to ensure success.


Barcelona and the surrounding Catalonia region accounts for 24% of Spanish industry and around 20% of new businesses started in Spain every year are based in this region.

Catalonia is best known for its automotive industry, with more than 10,895 automotive companies in the area. Some organisations in the region are also investing in technology to develop the commercialisation of sustainable cars using alternative fuels as well as exploring initiatives to develop autonomous cars.

Basque country

As much of the nation’s the coal and iron ore was found in the northern region of Spain, the Basque country has a long industrial history.

The Basque region is now home to a diverse range of manufacturing businesses. It largely relies on metal-based industries, such as the production of steel and machine-tools. However, other sectors such as the chemical and petrochemical industry and refineries also contribute a significant amount to the region's GDP.


The capital city and surrounding area seems like an unlikely spot for an industrial hub because of its central location, far from any coast or other large manufacturing areas in the country.

However, paper manufacturing and printing, energy and mining and vehicles and transport equipment are the leading industries in the area. Madrid is also known for its innovative infrastructure as well as being a transport hub to the rest of the country. Many of the biggest Spanish companies have their headquarters in Madrid, so potential business relationships can be developed easily.

At first glance, Spain might may only be appealing as a holiday destination, rather than a potential business opportunity. However, cities such as Barcelona, Bilbao and Madrid are investing in research and development to improve the already successful industries in these areas.

A manufacturing tour of Spain