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US companies invest in logistics in Belgium

Two leading US sports and footwear companies, Nike and Skechers, have recently expanded their international distribution centers in Belgium.

Situated at the crossroads of Europe, Belgium, with its dense transport network and productive workforce, has earned a reputation as a logistics hub and continues to attract investment in this sector.

Nike opened a new state-of-the-art distribution center in Laakdal in May, part of the company’s Belgium-based European Logistics Campus. The European Logistics Campus is spread across four nearby locations – Ham, Herentals, Laakdal and Meerhout – and employs some 3,000 people. This latest investment is the fifth expansion of the campus and brings the combined surface area to over 250,000m². The new Laakdal distribution center, described by the company as its ‘most advanced’ and ‘most sustainable’, is powered 100% by renewable energy and is fed almost exclusively by containers arriving by barge on the Albert Canal.

In June, Skechers inaugurated the fourth expansion of its European Distribution Center (EDC) in Milmort, near Liège. With this 26,000m² addition, the distribution center now has a total surface area of 98,500m² and is ready to stock 2.5 million pairs of shoes. The Skechers EDC is currently the largest company-operated distribution center in Wallonia and is the second largest Skechers logistics center after its home base in California. Thanks to the use of automation technologies, the company is on track to ship 20 million pairs from the EDC in 2016. “Belgium is the center of logistics in Europe,” says Sophie Houtmeyers, Vice-President of Distribution and Operations of Skechers Europe, South America and Japan, adding that “Belgians are dynamic, experienced and want to serve customers.”

“Belgium is the center of logistics in Europe.”
– Sophie Houtmeyers, Skechers

In addition to the people, location and infrastructure, government support was another important factor in both companies’ decision to expand their operations in Belgium. Bert Stevens, Vice-President of Supply Chain Operations of Nike Europe, praises the “great cooperation from local and national governments, and support from many partners and the local community,” while Skechers particularly mentions the regional and local incentives. That these two companies have made ‘repeat’ investments in their distribution centers here is a clear sign that they say #Yes2Belgium as a logistics hub!