German internet company Zalando is about to build a new mega-distribution centre in Bleiswijk in the Netherlands. The project will yield 1500 jobs and involves an investment of 200 million euros.
Size of 19 football fields
The 140,000 sqm distribution centre (about the size of 19 football fields) will appear in the area where FloraHolland used to hold the biggest plant auction in the Netherlands for years. FloraHolland sold the terrain some years ago to a joint venture of American investor USAA Realco Europe and Dutch Somerset Capital Partners.
The idea is for Zalando to start sending parcels from the new DC, not just to the Benelux but also to France, Spain and the UK. If everything goes according to plan, the XXL distribution centre will become operational in 2021.
Belgium loses again
The choice for Bleiswijk (between Zoetermeer and Rotterdam) is a major disappointment for Belgium, which loses out again. Dour-Elouges in Wallonia was another candidate for the project. In 2016, there was even a 'public investigation' into the possible arrival of Zalando.
In March of this year, Belgian business paper De Tijd reported that the final choice would be the Netherlands, based on multiple sources. "Three factors are causinh the German giant to pick our neighbours to the north", they wrote. "The company has judged that labour costs are lower in the Netherlands. They are also put off by the limited possibilities for night-time shifts in our country and the tumultuous social climate in Wallonia." The final choice for South Holland is due to "the geography, infrastructure and professional population. Dealing with local authorities also goes smoothly," confirms Kenneth Melchior, who manages the Northern European branch of Zalando, in Dutch business paper FD.
"It's happened so often that we lose jobs to other countries," says Dominique Michel CEO of trade federation Comeos. "And every time we see that the big players decide to build their distribution centres just beyond the Belgian borders, time and again. [see illustration] In the past few years, we've missed out on more than 17,600 jobs that way." Still, the government decided in March 2018 to lower the costs of night-time labour. But "today we're still waiting for the execution of that decision. In practice, nothing has changed and every passing month is a wasted month now. Now we're losing out on 1,500 jobs again."