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Dutch logistics demand curbs UK firms trying to beat Brexit

Rotterdam, among destinations favoured by UK companies [Image: Eric Bakker].

UK companies attempting to establish logistics bases in the Netherlands in an effort to counter the negative impact of Brexit trade obstacles may find restricted supply and high rents in their favoured destinations, Rotterdam and Amsterdam.

According to a Savills report, UK firms seeking to circumvent some of the additional tarriffs brought on by Brexit are interested in partnerships with Dutch logistics service providers, increasing demand for logistics space. In time, it is expected that UK distributors will require logistics properties in their own right which is expected to increase demand still further.

The key determinants in their selection of locations are presence of export facilities, the quality and vacancy of stock, and the availability of labour, Savills said.

“The growth of the Dutch logistics sector in recent years is due to the Netherlands’ strategic position as a transit country bolstered by the rise of e-commerce,” said Savills Netherlands director logistics and industrial Douglas van Oers.

“More recently, the sector has witnessed an influx of British companies seeking to mitigate the effects of additional import tariffs on goods from Asia to Europe via the UK. This makes it more advantageous and efficient for many British exporters to gain a foothold on the European mainland, but the question is where?”

Connections and labout put Amsterdam and Rotterdam at top of list

He said that the Netherlands’ two international ports, Rotterdam and Amsterdam, top the list, given their excellent infrastructure connections with other countries and access to a strong labour market.

However, the disadvantages of these locations are their limited vacancy rate and their relatively high rents.

The firm points to alternatives at Roosendaal and Moerdijk which are well connected to the ports of Rotterdam and Antwerp. Venlo-Venray is another hotspot because of its rail and barge connections although it is hampered by a considerable labour shortage in the logistics sector.

“Logistics hotspots that focus on international distribution have the greatest potential for British companies looking to gain a foothold in the Netherlands,” said Niek Poppelaars, director logistics and industrial, Savills Netherlands. “The biggest challenge in the short term will be finding available space within the hotspots.”

The vacancy rate for Dutch logistics real estate decreased from 6.1% at the start of 2020 to 5.6% in 2021 which Savills said is striking owing to the fact that during the same period stock grew by over 3 million sq m (+8.8%).