Xtratherm, the Irish family-run company manufacturing and distributing polyurethane insulation panels (PIR), is to open a production unit in Feluy, Wallonia. This investment amounts to over €30 million will lead to the creation of one hundred jobs. Xtratherm generated a turnover of over €100 million in 2013 and already employs more than 300 people.
This new unit is the result of four years’ work. In April 2011, Wallonia, in the person of the Minister for the Economy, Jean-Claude Marcourt, travelled to Dublin to meet Xtratherm’s managers wanting to set up their first factory outside the British Isles but unable to decide between North Rhine-Westphalia, Flanders and Wallonia. In early 2012, Xtratherm confirmed that the future production unit would be located in Feluy.
The main reasons behind Xtratherm’s decision are Wallonia’s central position in the heart of its trading area, the accessibility of markets, the availability of land, the possibilities for expansion, the investment subsidies received from the Region and from Europe (30% of the total investment amount), the support of the Region’s financial tools and banks, the fiscal ruling and the five-year guarantee. These are the reasons put forward by the Irish company, however, they coincide perfectly with the arguments used by the Walloon Trade Office, AWEX, in its daily market development work. Last but not least, Xtratherm believes it shares a real cultural affinity with the fundamental values of AWEX.
With its commitment to invest more than €30 million and create one hundred jobs, Xtratherm is certainly a major project for Wallonia. The polyurethane insulation panel (PIR) production and distribution unit will supply clients in Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Germany and France, resulting in major exports from Feluy. The building has a surface area of 16,000 m² and will soon house an initial production line, although expansion plans are already in the pipeline. The products manufactured in the Feluy factory clearly fall within the scope of the sustainable development and energy performance improvement policy for buildings in Wallonia. Xtratherm’s business is therefore a perfect match with the actions of the Greenwin competitiveness cluster. As the business uses fine chemistry based on polymers, it was completely natural for the factory to be located in our region’s main chemical activity zone, “Seveso”. “The arrival of Xtratherm further strengthens the strategic position of the leading Walloon cluster, managed by Idea, in the field of petrochemicals in Feluy”, stated Caroline Decamps, Director General of the intermunicipal economic development agency, Idea.
Xtratherm is primarily looking to recruit production managers and workers, together with handlers for its logistics activity. The recruitment campaign will begin in spring 2015, with the support of Forem. “€30 million invested and one hundred jobs created… such large numbers make this project one of the most successful examples of foreign investment in Wallonia in the last few years. Let’s take a quick look back: almost €10 billion have been invested in Wallonia by foreign businesses since 2000 and more than 24,000 jobs have been created”, added Pascale Delcomminette, General Administrator at Awex. And let’s not forget that in the latest Financial Times barometer of the most attractive regions for foreign investment, Wallonia was the only Belgian region to be included in a generic ranking, coming seventh in terms of strategy for attracting foreign investments.
Jean-Claude Marcourt, Walloon Minister for the Economy, Industry and Innovation, concluded, “Wallonia will be home to the first Xtratherm plant outside the British Isles. This has not happened by accident. The ecosystem created around the new materials and construction sectors is particularly dynamic in Wallonia, primarily thanks to my policy on competitiveness clusters. Wallonia is now an innovative platform in the heart of Europe for logistics and, more specifically, for the distribution of high added value products.