Netherlands is top choice for online retailers looking to expand logistics operations

Logistics real estate outside traditional hubs is becoming increasingly popular

The Netherlands is extremely popular among online retailers, who favour our country over all others when it comes to expanding their logistics operations. Increasingly, they are also looking for real estate outside the traditional locations. Other countries where online retailers are seeking to expand their logistics activities are Italy, the Czech Republic, Greece and Germany, in order of preference. These are the findings of the European Logistics Occupier Survey, a survey conducted by international real estate consultant CBRE. Over 100 of the largest European users of logistics real estate in the fields of production, e-commerce, retail, supermarkets and logistics services were surveyed.

Pole position

The reasons that the Netherlands is so popular include the high penetration rate of internet and e-commerce and the country’s good infrastructure, including the port of Rotterdam and transport routes to the rest of Europe. The tax regime and the availability of personnel also play a role.

The growth in e-commerce

The Dutch e-commerce sector has seen strong growth in recent years. In 2010 less than 5% of retail sales were made online; by 2020 this was almost 18%, according to Euromonitor data. This percentage is expected to increase to more than 23% by 2025. Due to this growth, a record volume of €4 billion was invested in logistics real estate in 2020, an increase of more than 60% compared to 2019.

High standards for logistics centres

“We can clearly see that growth was given a boost last year by the coronavirus pandemic,” says Jim Orsel, Head of Logistics at CBRE Netherlands. “That increase, which has been lasting, has consequences for logistics real estate. Online retailers have very high standards when it comes to logistics technology and efficiency. Only the most modern logistics centres can meet those requirements. Owners and developers should be investing in this early if they want to stay competitive.”

Increase in demand outside traditional locations

Almost two thirds of online retailers say that they are looking beyond the traditional locations to expand their logistics operations. The same is true in the Netherlands, where a shortage of land plays an important role. “The established logistics hubs such as Venlo, the Northern Randstad and Central and Eastern Brabant are getting full. More and more players are turning to places such as Central and Southern Limburg, Lelystad and Overijssel,” says Orsel. Logistics locations close to major cities are also popular among online retailers; as many as 64% indicate that expansion in urban regions is a high priority.

Pleasant working conditions

Logistics companies face various challenges. The survey shows that rising costs are still at the top of that list, followed by a limited supply of staff. The quality of buildings is becoming increasingly important. “We are seeing that new logistics complexes are increasingly being WELL-certified, in order to ensure pleasant working conditions and to attract staff. That includes aspects like daylight, heating and air quality,” explains Orsel.