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In the early nineties, American sports goods manufacturer Nike opened its first distribution center in Flanders, setting up shop in the town of Laakdal. Over the years, the center developed into Nike’s European Logistics Campus (ELC), with sites in 3 different locations in Flanders: Laakdal, Meerhout and Ham. Here’s why Nike and Flanders are a match made in investment and logistics.

Teaming up since 1994

Flanders and Nike have made a great team for decades. Since building a sportswear distribution center in Laakdal in 1994, the company has opened several other logistics sites for sports footwear, apparel 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, Wings DC in Ham, Nike took home Flanders Investment & Trade’s 2016 Foreign Investment of the Year Trophy.

Expansion after expansion

The city of Ham (Limburg) 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 marked a major milestone in Nike’s history in the region. The Court DC measures 1.5 million square feet in size and relies 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. It 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.”

Flanders offers an excellent geographical position as well as flexibility, languages and of course the innovative thinking that global firms are constantly in need of.

Kurt Van Donink
general manager at Nike

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 US-based 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 confirm 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.”

Within 500 kilometers of the campus, we can access 60% of Europe's purchasing power, and it is also ideally located for transport.

Kurt Van Donink
general manager at Nike

Enhancing sustainability

One of the features that makes Nike’s European Logistics Campus in Flanders stand out is its reliance on 100%-renewable energy. 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.

And there is more: over 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, Flanders’ Minister-President Jan Jambon presented the company with the 2020 Lifetime Achievement Trophy during Flanders Investment & Trade’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.
Reported by
Flanders Investment & Trade

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