Despite shortage of space and staff, no stop to distribution centre growth


New distribution centres covering a record of nearly two million m2 – the equivalent of 400 football fields – were built in the Netherlands in 2017 and still more are planned along the country’s motorways, according to research by broadcaster NOS.

Many large international companies are queuing up to distribute their products through the Netherlands despite the shortage of land and people to staff them, NOS said.There are currently 53,000 unfilled distribution centre jobs available.

NOS contacted commercial brokers association NVM Business as well as a number of leading commercial property firms for its report. ‘We are seeing for the first time that  developers are building distribution centres on spec before they have any tenant or buyer in mind,’ said Liesbeth Kramer of NVM Business. ‘Demand is enormous.’

Total space covered by distribution centres in the Netherlands has increased by 40% to more than 30 million m2 in the past 10 years. The most are located in Noord-Brabant province, followed by Limburg.

‘All major high streets from London to Paris  and Germany’s Ruhr region are stocked by warehouses in the southern part of the Netherlands,’ said Joost Uwents, CEO of Belgo-Dutch developer WDP, which is the largest in the Netherlands.

Uwents, who is a Belgian national, is full of praise for the Dutch government which has supported the logistics sector in a big way. He cites major improvements to the road infrastructure around Rotterdam and Eindhoven as will as upgrades in the rail and inland waterway structures.


The Dutch tax regime – unlike that in in other countries  – also benefits distribution activities as VAT is added only on final delivery of goods, said Richard Elich of property developer David Hart Group.

And even though the southern part of the country is generally preferred for distribution centres, the parent of Spanish fashion group Zara opted for Lelystad for its new distribution centre.  ‘Quite simply, they settled there because the could get both space and staff,’ Uwents said.

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