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Dutch Logistics sector boosted by pandemic and Brexit

Jeroen Gerritsen, Managing Director, Panattoni Netherlands

The combination of Brexit and Covid-19 is making the Dutch logistics sector even more attractive, experts agreed at Real Asset Media’s European Outlook 2021 – The Netherlands, which was held online recently.

“UK-based firms are looking for a foothold in mainland Europe and The Netherlands is the obvious place to look, as we’re just across the Channel and have a major port of entry,” said Jeroen Gerritsen, managing director, Panattoni Netherlands. “British and international firms alike had underestimated the impact of Brexit, but now that it’s here we see an increase in demand.”

The country has another great advantage apart from location, he said: “There are still opportunities to be found here and there is availability of land, while in Germany it’s increasingly difficult to find locations.”

The fundamentals of the sector are good, supported by two pandemic-related factors: the increase in e-commerce and the move away from the just-in-time model to having more stock available at all times to avoid glitches in the supply chain.  

“The lockdowns have swept away any reservations and absolutely everyone is doing online shopping now,” said Gerritsen. “E-commerce is here to stay.”

The expectation is that people will keep buying online even when the pandemic recedes and they are allowed back into shops.

Pandemic has accelerated re-shoring process

“The re-shoring trend has been accelerated by the pandemic and there is more demand for logistics and light industrial assets in general and for facilities close to cities in particular,” said Dennis Schoenmaker, associate director research and strategy, AEW. “The trajectory of demand is why logistics is now top of many investors’ list.”

According to Savills figures, last year the logistics sector attracted €4 billion of investment, a 40% increase on 2019, and the good performance is likely to be repeated this year.

“2021 will be the year of logistics,” said Jordy Diepeveen, director, head of acquisitions, Savills Netherlands.

As demand increases, the challenge will be finding opportunities. “There are limits to the land available for logistics development, so the trend is to go from greenfields to brownfields,” said Diepeveen.  

The switch to brownfield land creates opportunities and helps in generating supply but these sites have added complexities, said Gerritsen: “There are planning, mitigation and environmental issues and they can be very tricky.”