Salvador Alemany i Josep Martínez Vila


Salvador Alemany, President
Josep Martínez Vila, Chief Executive Officer

“Saba will establish itself as one of the leading international players in the sector”

It could be said that 2016 marks the end of a era for Saba...

Salvador Alemany: This is the end of a first stage, which began in 2011 with a re-founding project, and the beginning of a new phase in which Saba will focus its attention exclusively on its car park business and the consolidation of the company as one of the leading international players in the sector. Last October, we concluded the divestment of our logistics parks business with the sale of Saba Parques Logísticos, the owning company of Cim Vallès (Barcelona) Lisboa Norte in Portugal, as well as shares in Parc Logístic de la Zona Franca (Barcelona), Sevisur (ZAL Puerto de Sevilla) and Arasur (Álava). This transaction wraps up a period which has seen four successive divestment operations, which total €300 million in shareholders’ equity, thus maximising the value of this business line and facilitating key operations in car parks such as Adif, Bamsa and (in Portugal) CPE. This move also boosts Saba’s added capacity in the car park business.

What would you highlight from the 2011 - 2016 period?

“Saba undertook a significant internal transformation between 2011 and 2016, making growth and geographical diversification its main goal”

Salvador Alemany: We are talking about a period in which we have undergone relevant internal transformations to adapt to the new reality and we have turned growth and geographical diversification into our main goal. Between 2011 and 2016, Saba increased its number of car parks by 80%, up to 368, and its parking spaces by 43%, up to 195,000, with a cumulative investment of €545 million and an average concession life of 25 years. And it has been achieved, in an initial context of deep economic crisis, simultaneously with an improvement in profitability, in terms of EBITDA on income—from 39% in 2011 to 46% in 2016—through a combination of revenue management, cost reduction and new business. It has also been achieved thanks to the resolute implementation of technological initiatives and commercial restructuring in face of new consumer demands that establish different parameters and rules, and with the conviction of having a work culture based on commitment and quality of service as a driving force, in addition to having a sound financial structure.

With all these elements in place, we are now beginning a new stage of growth. And we do so after closing a balance between 2011 and 2016 in which the operations of Aena, Adif, Bamsa and CPE added 189 car parks and 102,000 parking spaces. In addition, in the same period, Saba won a total of 33 new contracts, accounting for 23,000 new parking spaces.

How would you rate FY2016 for Saba?

“We have an EBITDA margin of 46%, which has grown and is the highest in the sector among large companies at an international level”

Josep Martínez Vila: If in 2015 there appeared to be a potential recovery in the car park business, in 2016 we can confirm that the positive pace of this business has been maintained. Thus, in 2016 there has been an overall increase of 2% in our car park activity, with a notable improvement in Spain, where we witnessed an increase of close to 3%. Similarly, Italy has posted its best results in years, continuing with Portugal’s strong performance. In the same vein, we also saw a significant recovery in subscribers, up 14%, thanks to marketing efforts and improving macroeconomic and consumption variables.

In summary, operating income from Saba’s assets under management stood at 236 million euros, not including the contribution from logistics parks and therefore taking into account only car parks, while EBITDA totalled 124 million euros. Without taking into account the impact of divestments, ordinary income would be 205 million euros and EBITDA would be 94 million euros, with a margin of 46%, which has grown in recent years and is the highest in the sector among large companies at an international level. Saba’s salient figures reflect, on the one hand, this good business performance and, on the other hand, the efforts made by the organisation as a whole to increase the operational efficiency of the business, to implement initiatives that allow the company to become a leader in the sector—putting special emphasis on new support systems, new technologies and energy efficiency, as well as new formulas and commercial initiatives—and to actively manage contracts, focusing on growth.

What about in terms of management?

Josep Martínez Vila: In terms of improvement in operational efficiency, we bolstered our Customer service and Control Centre (CCC) activity, connecting 57% of the car parks in Spain (147 out of 256), and implemented LED technology in all countries where we operate, replacing more than 40,000 light fixtures in four years. Along with this LED technology, Saba continues its actions in energy efficiency in search of savings, management optimization and in 2016 we focused on the implementation of management software that allows the monitoring and control of consumption and billing. In 2016, new technology and customer service lines were introduced, with the extension of the new control systems (QR in substitution of magnetic strips) in the Bamsa and Saba networks, after the implementation in Adif in 2015. Thus we ended 2016 with more than 6.7 million movements carried out with the VIA T access and electronic payment device—18% more than in the previous year—and a complete remodelling of the facilities, where Saba has invested heavily, aiming to improve our customers’ comfort through the installation of collaborative and auxiliary lighting, for example.

A special mention must go to the launch, in August 2016, of the new business website ( It is innovative within the sector and features an online store. It will evolve into a platform and become, without doubt, a powerful e-commerce tool. The forecasts indicate that in a year from its implementation, the website will receive more than 600,000 visits, and log a total of 9,000 transactions. Finally, in terms of growth, some of the contracts that stand out are the Santiago de Chile airport and San Bernardo regulated area, in Chile, the Estádio Universitário in Lisbon and Eça (Póvoa de Varzim), in Portugal, and Castro Urdiales (Santander), Montserrat (Mataró) and Virgen del Rocío (Seville), in Spain.

What future challenges do you face?

Josep Martínez Vila: The cornerstones are already in place and they are strong. We must continue working on them, staying faithful to our lines of action: Growth, innovation, commercial and customer service restructuring, and operational efficiency. Along with these, a premise that should be taken into account: That of corporate responsibility and the permanent interaction and commitment with the territory to which we are linked. And another factor to take into account: The new environment, the new needs of consumers and the need for reaction and adaptation without which we will not be able to reach that desired level of excellence that will lead us to position ourselves at the top, to differentiate ourselves. More specifically, I would highlight, for example, the integration of car parks in Italy and Portugal with the CCC, along with the change of control systems that add new functionalities to car park operations. I would also mention the extension of systems similar to VIA T in countries where Saba is present. These include the consolidation of TAG in Chile, Telepass in Italy, already in operation in 2017 in a pilot test at the Brindisi airport, and Via Verde in Portugal, after the agreement reached with the concessionaire Brisa.

Will commercial actions and technology continue to take priority?

Josep Martínez Vila: There is no doubt. With regard to marketing challenges, we will advance in the expansion of functionalities in our new website and we will continue to provide new offerings to key accounts. It is in this area, moreover, in which we can place the signing of the contract with Impursa in 2017, for the management of advertising in our car parks. Thanks to this contract, we will place a total of 115 digital advertising screens in our car park networks in Barcelona, thus combining innovation and customer service. Also in 2017, we will promote the implementation of areas in car parks set aside for e-commerce pick-up locations. With a pilot test in Chile and this service already underway in Italy, in Spain we will deploy an initial pilot test that, if successful, will result in deployment in approximately 40 car parks. We will carry out the first experiences in storage units, we will follow this with initiatives in urban microdistribution and we will continue with the electric car— Saba currently has 154 electric charging stations available for customers in Spain, Italy and Portugal.

Let’s not overlook growth. If we keep moving forward, we must be committed to identifying new opportunities for organic and inorganic growth. Again, geographical diversification is a primary objective in order to offset risks.

How does Saba position itself in the current debate on the management of urban mobility?

“We must drive our discussion on mobility, without shying away from it, and take an active part in the increasingly demanding needs of cities”

Salvador Alemany: In short, Saba must lead the way. We would fall behind the curve if we did not focus on sustainable mobility, responsible management from a social and environmental standpoint, commitment to people and stakeholders, especially customers (citizens) and government agencies, and energy efficiency in everything we do. Leading the way and leading the conversation, without shying away from it, taking an active part in the increasingly demanding needs of cities, a global, competitive system where different realities and dynamics coexist: work and play. In this regard, there is a need for a coordinated response that addresses the multiple uses of cities, promoting sustainable growth.

In light of this, Saba understands car parks as one more link in the chain of mobility in cities. We believe that the main objective of cities has to be the optimisation of mobility management, having a sufficiently wide car park network, pursuing sustainability, seeking efficiency of movement and in general mobility itself, taking advantage of technological innovation and being committed to providing services for different means of transport. Saba, as a leading industrial operator in the development of solutions in the field of urban mobility, must be able to consolidate its offering.

What are the core ideas of this proposal?

“More than a car park, we think of it as a sustainable service hub that makes the most of strategic locations and of facilities which are open 24 hours a day to serve the city”

Salvador Alemany: They include new technologies, both in management and infrastructure, quality of service and the ability to contribute positively and responsibly to this debate. For this, it is essential that we coordinate with local governments in our search for solutions. We would thus present a model of car parks integrated in urban policies and the chain of mobility and completely coordinated with the other means of transport. With social awareness and respect for the environment, offering additional services for citizens (e-commerce, storage units, electric vehicles, carpools). More than a car park, we think of it as a sustainable service hub that leverages strategic locations and of facilities which are open 24 hours a day to serve the city. Saba carries out its activity within the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations, including those that set the guidelines for sustainable cities and communities. In short, to make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.

The proposals on urban mobility are one of the focal points of our Corporate Social Responsibility policy, but I do not want to overlook the work of the company in other areas of sustainability and Corporate Governance. We must continue to insist on work integration programmes, such as the one signed with Incorpora, part of the Welfare Projects of “la Caixa” Banking Foundation, or to reach agreements with institutions that reflect our objectives in terms of the environment and the protection of disadvantaged groups, such as those reached with the Roger Torné Foundation and the Pere Tarrés Foundation, among others. We must also distribute the Crime Prevention Handbook throughout the Group, which was recently approved by the company’s Board of Directors.