Spain flag Spain: Business Environment

Business Practices in Spain

Opening hours and bank holidays

General Information
Commisceo Global, Spanish business culture as per Commisceo Global
Services for business, Global Affairs Canada
Opening Hours and Days
Closed the afternoon between 2:00 pm and 4:00 pm, and the evening around 8:00 pm. (10:00 pm. for the superstores/ hypermarkets).
In July and August, closed at 3:00 pm. Banks close to the public at 2:00 pm.
Closed on Saturday afternoons and on Sundays (except major brands, all are closed on Sundays).

Public Holidays

New Year January 1
Twelfth Night - Epiphany (Festival of Mages Kings) January 6
Good Friday the Friday before Passover/ Easter (March/April)
Labor Day
May 1
August 15
National Festival (Día de la Hispanidad) October 12
All Saints Day November 1
Constitution Day
December 6
Immaculate Conception Festival
December 8
Christmas December 25
St Stephen's Day December 26
Holiday Compensation
If a public holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday, the Monday is a holiday instead.

Periods When Companies Usually Close

Christmas and New Year holidays Between December 25 and January 6.
Summer vacation August
Holy Saint Week From Thursday to Sunday of Passover.

Business culture

The Fundamental Principles of Business Culture
In Spain, saving face, family, proximity and aversion to risk are major concepts in business. It is common that Spanish businessmen treat their counterparts as their friends. Values and attitudes have shifted since the restoration of democracy in 1975. Spaniards are known for being more relaxed than their other European counterparts. They also show strong regional pride.

Hierarchy tends to be vertical and rank matter, but third or fourth level down individuals may be in better standing or have more influence than higher-ups. Setting up meetings with counterparts who are in equivalent positions and professional status is recommended. It is difficult for senior managers to collaborate with more junior colleagues.

The development of a personal and informal relationship is often necessary for the smooth running of business. Oral communication is then preferred to written communication. Lunch or dinner invitations are ideal to establish a relationship.

First Contact
Appointments are made by telephone or by email and must be confirmed in writing or by phone the day before. Face-to-face meetings are often preferred over written or phone conversations. The heads of SMEs rarely speak anything other than Spanish (and possibly their regional language) while less than 30% of managers in big companies are fluent in English. Knowing Spanish or being accompanied by an interpreter is imperative.
Time Management
Spanish people can be lenient with punctuality and meeting duration, but you should arrive on time. Northern regions are especially punctual, so stick to deadlines.
Greetings and Titles
Greet everyone with a handshake and address people using “Señor” or “Señora” followed by their name and surname. “Usted” is the formal way to address new people, but they will often ask you to refer to them in a more informal "Tú". You should avoid kissing unless the other party initiates it. When two men know each other well, they hug while patting each others back energetically. They can also shake hands by placing the other hand on the forearm of the person opposite to them.
Gift Policy
Avoid gifts in a first meeting. Regional souvenirs and promotional products are appreciated at the end of subsequent meetings. For Christmas and New Year festivities, Spanish companies send their customers baskets of assorted foods.
Dress Code
Dress code is formal and conservative. Men wear jackets and ties regardless of weather while women wear dresses, blouses and skirts.
Business Cards
Business cards are a must to be seen as professional. They are to be presented at the beginning of the meeting, preferably with a Spanish side that is shown when offered.
Meetings Management
It is important to create a personal relationship with your counterpart. Small talk is then common before talking business. You should talk about your background, family life or even Spanish football if the topic arises, but avoid politics. Personal qualities are valued above technical skills or competence.

While presenting, you should expect to be frequently interrupted when speaking. The presentation should be thorough, detailed and you should bring literature about your company. Negotiations are generally long. The Spanish may prefer their counterparts to speak first. Last minute questions and repetition should be avoided. It is advised to avoid confrontation and boasting about your achievements. An oral understanding must be reached before redacting a formal contract.

You should expect a formal conversation.  Eye contact is important, but can be replaced by gestures, noises or exclamations showing assertiveness and signalling that one is paying attention. You should expect plenty of physical contact during conversations. Focus on non-verbal communication to detect your counterpart's feelings. Humour is welcome, but avoid being offensive.

Business lunches are generally used to celebrate closing a deal, to discuss ideas or to get to know counterparts, but not to talk business. Spanish people welcome breakfast invitations at no earlier than 8 a.m. Business lunches that start at 2.00 p.m. often last two hours. Dinner begins no earlier than 9:30 p.m. and may last until midnight. Do not waste food; you should decline a meal instead of leaving food on your plate. The person who invites pays for the meal, but bills can be divided as well. If a meal is paid for you, it is courteous to pay for their meal or invite them at a later date. Tip 5% in restaurants.

Sources for Further Information
Spanish business culture

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Latest Update: July 2024