Swiss logistics leader Kuehne+Nagel takes its Value Chain Hub in Flanders to the next level

When it comes to smooth logistics, the region of Flanders offers three key ingredients of success: just ask Kuehne+Nagel. In 2020, the Swiss logistics leader not only opened a brand-new airside pharma & healthcare, perishable and general cargo hub at Brussels Airport, it also started constructing a new European distribution center in Tessenderlo, Flanders. Tobias Jerschke, managing director at Kuehne+Nagel BeLux: “Direct access to prominent customers in Europe and beyond, excellent infrastructure and a multilingual talent pool: Flanders has what our business needs to succeed.”

Following these two major investments in the region, Kuehne+Nagel earned itself a nomination for Flanders Investment & Trade’s 2021 Foreign Investment of the Year Trophy.  

The best of both worlds

Kuehne+Nagel, one of the world’s leading logistics providers in end-to-end logistics, has come a long way since its foundation in 1890. What started as a local sea logistics forwarder between the German towns of Bremen and Hamburg has gradually grown into a worldwide transport and logistics group active in sea, air, road and contract logistics, with a clear focus on integrated solutions.

Today, the Kuehne+Nagel Group has some 1,395 offices in over 100 countries serving over 400,000 customers. In Flanders, the company employs more than 1,000 employees at various sites, most of which are located in the province of Antwerp (Antwerp, Kontich, Mechelen, Geel and Eindhout). But also Limburg (Tessenderlo, Wellen), Flemish Brabant (Machelen, Kampenhout) and West Flanders (Ostend) have their fair share of Kuehne+Nagel sites.  

According to Tobias Jerschke, Kuehne+Nagel’s entrepreneurial culture and future-ready ownership structure, has the advantage of being able to respond immediately to market opportunities and client needs. “Our short-term agility and strategic long-term planning are essential assets in satisfying the needs of our customers.”

“Being an entrepreneurial company offers two main advantages: fast, short-term response to market opportunities and customer needs coupled with strategic long-term planning.”

- Tobias Jerschke, managing director at Kuehne+Nagel BeLux

E-fulfilment innovator in Flanders

The entrepreneurial mindset of the early days is still strongly present within the group’s corporate culture. Both making headlines in 2020, Kuehne+Nagel’s investment projects in Machelen and Tessenderlo – two towns in Flanders – are perfect examples of the company’s cross-EU integrated development.

“At our European distribution center in Tessenderlo we will offer a complex combination of B2B and B2C e-fulfillment solutions,” says Gerry Bosmans, director of Contract Logistics at Kuehne+Nagel BeNeLux. “In a fast-paced environment, technological innovation and long-term flexible partnerships are key,” Bosmans continues. “Companies are increasingly looking for a logistics partner dedicated to continuously creating value in a constantly changing environment, resulting in great opportunities for our sector.”

“We offer something truly special at Brucargo in Machelen,” adds Tobias Jerschke. “As new pharmaceutical and healthcare products, including vaccines, tend to be more temperature-sensitive, we decided to invest heavily in a particularly complex pharma cell with several temperature zones.”

Consisting of 16,000 m² of storage space, the Machelen facility is the perfect addition to Kuehne+Nagel’s recently expanded Contract Logistics pharma warehousing facility in Geel (Flanders), as well as to the pan-European Kuehne+Nagel PharmaChain Road Logistics Network.

Geert Torfs, air logistics director at Kuehne+Nagel BeLux: “This new building puts us right where we want to be: next to the tarmac, in the heart of Europe and ready for the future.” In addition, there is a three-floor office facility there, including a large training center equipped with the latest connectivity tools.”

“This building puts us right where we want to be: next to the tarmac, in the heart of Europe and poised for the future.”

- Geert Torfs, air logistics director at Kuehne+Nagel BeLux

Skyrocketing region

“Flanders is in a perfect location for e-commerce and logistics,” says Gerry Bosmans. “The region offers major logistics potential, not in the least thanks to the Port of Antwerp. In addition, it boasts excellent inland waterway infrastructure and connection to other European countries via motorways. Flanders’ potential is sometimes overlooked, but when it comes to e-commerce, our customers are always pleasantly surprised when they discover the region’s assets.”

Tobias Jerschke agrees with his colleague and even takes it one step further: “Flanders offers a flexible labor framework. In fact, we first sell the region to our customers, and then our Kuehne+Nagel expertise. We’ve looked at other European locations, but mostly choose to stay in Flanders in the end. In terms of logistics, we have everything we need close at hand. There is room to expand even more, so why stop now?”

“We first sell Flanders to our customers, and then our Kuehne+Nagel expertise. In terms of logistics, the region has everything we need close at hand.”

- Tobias Jerschke, managing director at Kuehne+Nagel BeLux

Fast expansion  

In the first phase, the new European distribution center in Tessenderlo will be 40,000 m² in size and create 350 extra jobs. The investment is valued at EUR 75 million. In the future, the building will be extended to 75,000 m², which will generate an additional 600 jobs.

The new facilities are only the first step in the expansion of Kuehne+Nagel BeLux. Both its sites at Brussels Airport and in Tessenderlo will be developed further in 2021. The company also closed a major acquisition in road logistics in 2020 and will further invest in its European road logistics hub in Kampenhout. “Our ambition is to become the best company to do business with and to work for,” concludes Tobias Jerschke.

 

“Our ambition is to become the best company to do business with and to work for.”

- Tobias Jerschke, managing director at Kuehne+Nagel BeLux

 

Facts and figures

  • Main activities: 3PL service provider, including (end-to-end) global freight forwarding and contract logistics services
  • Founded in 1890 (in Bremen)
  • Active in Flanders since 1956
  • Parent company: Kuehne+Nagel International AG
  • Global HQ: Schindellegi, Switzerland
  • Sites in Flanders: Geel, Eindhout, Tessenderlo, Machelen, Mechelen, Kampenhout , Kontich, Antwerp, Wellen, Ostend
  • 2019 net turnover worldwide: CHF 21,094 million (EUR 19,490 million)
  • Number of employees worldwide: 78,000
  • Number of employees in Belgium: over 2,000
  • Investment amount in Flanders for Tessenderlo project: EUR 75 million, including EUR 15 million invested in automation
  • Additional jobs created in Flanders through Tessenderlo project: 150 in the course of 2021, increasing to 350 in the following years

 

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