A Typology of European Distribution Centres

The changing European market and increased globalisation may have consequences for current top logistics regions, such as Flanders (Belgium). New regional distribution centres to serve the local East European markets may arise, but they will not replace the economic value-adding distribution centres currently located in Flanders.

As European distribution centres are generators of economic potential, local governments are trying to retain their existing ones and attract new ones. This requires a good understanding of the different types of distribution centres that are active in a region. Therefore, the objective of our research has been to develop a typology of European distribution centres (EDCs) in Flanders, to describe each of the different types of distribution centres, and thus gain a good understanding of the ‘landscape’ of European distribution centres. This typology is useful for the practitioner who is designing the distribution network, and for the policy maker who needs to identify the distribution centres that add the most economic value to a region.

In our research, we define a ‘European Distribution Centre’ as a warehouse that distributes goods to at least five different countries.

In collaboration with the Flanders Institute for Logistics, 262 EDC sites were identified in Flanders, distributing goods from 792 manufacturing companies. We sent a survey to these sites, asking about the activities carried out at the site, the level of employment, the level of competencies, etc. We obtained data for 115 manufacturing companies in Flanders, served by 96 different sites (37% response rate from the sites).

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