Wallonia makes logistical sense
From one year to the next, comparative studies of the strengths and weaknesses of the various European regions in terms of logistics, place Wallonia up there among the top three European regions most conducive to logistical development.
It ranks top in the latest study conducted by Cushman & Wakefield (2010 edition) thanks to a combination of these four factors:
- its excellent quadrimodal transport infrastructures,
- the easy access it offers to most of Europe’s consumers,
- its available reserves of industrial land,
- the quality and availability of its workforce.
At the heart of the networks
Wallonia owes its leadership position to the excellent accessibility that it offers to the large consumer markets. 60 million consumers are within three hours’ reach by road from Liege (only 31 million consumers from Paris).
This notion of accessibility to the markets is further reinforced by the fact that it lies right in the path of the major freight corridors. The density of the road and rail networks, as well as the presence of a practical network of interior navigable waterways, are Wallonia’s major strengths.
Finally, Wallonia has to contend with less road congestion than other regions. A Wallonia-based EDC is in a better position to keep its promises as far as transit times are concerned.
Reduced operating costs
Another strong argument in Wallonia’s favour concerns the costs of logistical operations that are conducted there. Buying land or renting a warehouse is cheaper in Wallonia than in the surrounding regions. To find out more about this, click here to consult the table of rental costs.
The regional government and the intercommunal economic development agencies are pursuing their efforts to enhance the region’s infrastructures, in particular in two low-energy modes of transport, the waterways and the railways:
- in the province of Hainaut, a new mixed gantry for unloading steel products and containers will be inaugurated at the end of 2011 on a branch of the Central Canal in La Louvière and a new river terminal is under consideration for Western Hainaut,
- in the province of Luxembourg, by the end of 2012, a rail link will connect the Ardenne Logistics park to the Athus terminal,
- in Liege, Europe’s third largest inland port, the Trilogiport will amongst others become a relief platform for the port of Antwerp, which is becoming increasingly saturated. It will be sited between the River Meuse and Albert Canal.
Furthermore, new zones have been made available, in particular in the Centre region (83 hectares in the Garocentre Sud industrial park) and in Luxembourg province, comprised of around one hundred hectares in Neufchâteau in particular but also in Aubange, Bastogne and Marche-en-Famenne.
A productive and qualified workforce
Wallonia has a very productive workforce and far-reaching logistical experience.
At every step in the logistical chain, specific skills are however necessary. The FOREM has pinpointed this need and caters for them in two training centres, in close cooperation with companies.
The FOREM dispenses its logistical training courses at Liège Logistics and La Louvière (Houdeng-Goegnies).
But the aim is not only to train drivers of heavy goods lorries. The FOREM competence centres also trains truck drivers and handlers, logisticians, pickers, public transport drivers and transport operators.
Moreover, at Liège Logistics, the FOREM Formation has introduced a course in biologistics earmarked at customs officers. This programme even includes an introduction to the dangers of bioterrorism.
To find out more, visit the web site of FOREM formation logistique (only available in french).
Quadrimodality: a unique asset
Well served by road, rail, water and air links, Wallonia is a crossroads, right bang in the middle of the European “blue banana”.
When it comes to collective transport, Wallonia has the advantage of a sprawling network of navigable waterways that link it to the major European ports situated between Hamburg and Le Havre.
The port of Renory on the River Meuse, upstream of Liege offers a good example of this connectivity. The Portier group with its partner IFB manage a container transshipment platform that allows the switch from water to rail or road.
Logistics in Wallonia : the cluster of the transport and logistics sector in Wallonia
Logistics in Wallonia is one of the six competitiveness clusters set up by the Walloon government within the framework of the Marshall Plan launched to boost the Walloon economy.
The cluster’s objective is to support all innovations in the logistics sector, in particular its technological dimension.
The primary aims of the clusters are to stimulate and support innovation, including through financial measures, via the regional aid programmes. It serves as a research consultancy and helps shape and roll out projects in the four thematic areas of multimodality, the securisation of logistical chains, sustainable logistics and internal company logistics.
Wallonia, a logical logistical hub
Wallonia heads up the ranking of Europe’s most attractive logistics hub and continues to be considered as the region that will be Europe’s most attractive logistical hub in 2020.
Investors have sat up and listened: between 2000 and 2010, the logistics sector was the most buoyant sector among the foreign investment projects that were concluded by the Walloon Export and Foreign Investment Agency (AWEX).
In addition to the significant sums invested in Wallonia, the logistical sector is also since the beginning of the new millennium the leading sector in terms of job creation, accounting for more than 3,000 new jobs, or almost 16% of the total jobs directly created by foreign investors.
Today, the big names in logistics and the main clients are present in Wallonia: TNT, Skechers, Baxter, Dow Corning, Lyreco, …
To read testimonials by investors in the logistics sector, click here.
Brochure : Set up your logistics in Wallonia 2011 click here
Cushman & Wakefield study click here