Nike receives the 2020 Lifetime Achievement Trophy for building the supply chain of the future in Flanders

In the early nineties, American sports goods manufacturer Nike opened a distribution center in Laakdal, on the outskirts of Antwerp. Over the years, the center developed into the company’s European Logistics Campus (ELC) with sites in three locations in Flanders: Laakdal, Meerhout and Ham. Today, Nike ELC serves millions of consumers across Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The success story is set to continue in the future, as Nike’s newest facility on the campus, referred to as the Court DC, opened in 2019. This site expands the company’s logistics capabilities in order to meet growing consumer demand while advancing sustainability at scale.

Highlighting these continuous investment efforts, Nike received the Lifetime Achievement Trophy at Flanders Investment & Trade’s annual Foreign Investment Trophy event on 11 February 2020.

“Winning the 2020 Lifetime Achievement Trophy serves as a recognition of the hard work of – and I can’t stress this enough – our entire team.” - Kurt Van Donink, general manager of Nike ELC

Nike and Flanders, teaming up since 1994

Flanders and Nike have made a great team for decades, that much is certain. Since it first set up shop in 1994 with its sportswear distribution center in Laakdal, the American company has opened several other logistics sites for sports footwear, accessories and equipment in the region.  

In this context, several local logistics investment projects were completed between 1994 and 2019. For the company’s fourth expansion in Ham, called Wings DC, in 2016, Nike previously took home FIT’s Foreign Investment of the Year Trophy.

Expansion after expansion

The city of Ham was also the location of Nike’s most recent investment in Flanders, when the company opened a new distribution center in 2019. Referred to as the Court DC, the facility marks a major milestone in Nike’s history in the region. The Court DC measures 1.5 million square feet in size and operates completely on renewable energy sources. What’s more, thanks to the building’s rack-supported structure, construction required less steel and concrete, minimizing waste and reducing the amount of building material used.

General Manager Kurt Van Donink explains why Flanders is a such an attractive investment destination: “Flanders is a region with a modern, knowledge-based economy founded on centuries of experience at the crossroads of European trade. Flanders offers an excellent geographical position as well as the flexibility, languages, business skills, knowledge, entrepreneurial spirit, culture and quality of life and – of course – the innovative thinking that global companies are constantly in need of.”

Nike and Flanders through the years

  • 1994 – First distribution center (Laakdal)
  • 1995 – Second distribution center (Meerhout)
  • 2007 – Third distribution center
  • 2016 – Expansion in Ham with ‘Wings DC’
  • 2019 – New expansion in Ham with ‘Court DC’

Major employer, loyal investor

Nike has dreamed big in Flanders since the very start. When it first set foot on Flanders’ soil in 1994, the company employed 150 people. With its current team of more than 4,000 employees, it is now one of the largest American employers in the region. By continuing to expand its operations in Laakdal, Nike underlines its commitment to its local workforce and business.

Even more, Nike’s investment efforts reconfirm its confidence in Flanders as well as in its local logistics campus. Kurt Van Donink: “Within 500 kilometers of the campus, we can access 60% of Europe’s purchasing power, and it is also ideally located for transport. Supply is handled by inland vessels along the Albert Canal, and shipments are made by boat, train and truck.”

Enhancing sustainability: Nike just does it

One of the main features that makes Nike’s European Logistics Campus in Flanders stand out is its reliance on 100%-renewable energy. The campus draws energy from 5 locally generated sources: wind, solar, geothermal, hydroelectric and biomass. In addition to railways and highways, the surrounding infrastructure also includes a network of canals, enabling 99% of inbound containers to reach the local container park by water. This makes it possible for the company to avoid approximately 14,000 truck journeys each year, reducing carbon emissions in the process.

Nike’s efforts in going green have generated international attention: the firm won the 2018 LEED Gold Award with its Wings DC in Ham, an award issued by the US Green Building Council. This makes the center in Ham the largest LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified building in Flanders.

A futureproof supply chain

More than 95% of the waste generated on site is fully recycled, and local transport routes have been optimized with the goal of reducing CO2 emissions by a staggering 30%. In short, Nike is committed to building the supply chain of the future in Flanders, right in the heart of Europe.

Trophy glory

Highlighting the importance of Nike’s long-standing investments in Flanders, the company was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Trophy by Flanders’ Minister-President Jan Jambon during FIT’s Foreign Investment Trophy event on 11 February 2020. “Winning the 2020 Lifetime Achievement Trophy serves as a recognition of the hard work of – and I can’t stress this enough – our entire team,” says Kurt Van Donink, general manager of Nike ELC.

In addition to the Lifetime Achievement Trophy, FIT presented three other trophies on 11 February 2020: the Newcomer of the Year Trophy, the Exceptional Investment Trophy and the Foreign Investment of the Year Trophy, for which five companies competed.

Check out the winners.