Berlin has always been an important industrial and business location. Industrialization in the 19th century made “Spree-Athens” grow into a metropolis with millions of inhabitants. The end of division and reunification brought a new economic dynamism to the city from 1990 onwards. Berlin is considered the capital of the German startup scene, but is also home to these three German market leaders: The presented companies belong to the largest companies in Berlin.
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1. Deutsche Bahn Aktiengesellschaft: 39.9 billion euros turnover
Deutsche Bahn has a dominant position in the German rail transport market. The federally owned railway company was formed in 1994 from the merger of Deutsche Bundesbahn and Deutsche Reichsbahn, reflecting the unification of the two German states. The railway forms a complex group with DB Fernverkehr (long-distance passenger transport), DB Regio (local passenger transport) and DB Cargo (rail freight transport) as important subdivisions. DB Netz operates the German rail network and is a monopolist in this function. Sales are divided equally between (passenger) rail transport and the transport and logistics business. Transport is carried out by rail and road, as well as by air and sea freight.
2. Axel Springer SE: 3.1 billion euros in sales
The Springer Group is one of the leading German media and publishing houses. In the beginning, Axel Springer and his father founded a publishing house in Hamburg. In 1966, the company’s headquarters were moved to Berlin – to the new Axel Springer high-rise right next to the Berlin Wall, a deliberate political sign. In recent years the Springer Group has increasingly developed from a newspaper and magazine publisher into a multimedia company. This takes account of the trend towards digital information services. Newspaper flagships are still BILD and WELT. The main shareholders are the US investment company KKR (35.6 percent), Friede Springer (22.5 percent) and Springer CEO Matthias Döpfner (21.9 percent).
3. Zalando SE: 8.0 billion euros in sales
The Berlin-based online mail-order company for shoes, fashion and cosmetics has become famous with its Zalando scream. Zalando can rightly consider itself a pioneer in the online sale of shoes and remains a leader in this business to this day, despite various imitators. Founded in 2008 with start-up support from the famous Samwer brothers (Rocket Internet), Zalando has long since left start-up status. Today, the company employs around 16,000 people and is active in 23 European markets apart from Germany. In the meantime, Zalando no longer relies solely on online retailing. It has its own outlets in 11 German cities and offers cooperation models for brick-and-mortar retail.
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