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French logistics industry leads the way in Europe

28 October 2008 –The European logistics sector represents over one million companies that employ approximately five million people. In France, 1,516,000 people are employed by the industry. The logistics sector has become an industry in its own right, with consistent positive market growth.

Various factors are at the root of this expansion in France – globalisation, the development of the container sector, a high-performance road and rail network, highly efficient port and airport platforms, the combination of various types of maritime and land transport, as well as IT and telecommunications networks that enable optimal management of transport and storage.

France has been a pioneer in the logistics revolution that began in the 1980s. The growth in the number of operators is likely to increase with the development of outsourcing. France has major specialist logistics groups such as FM Logistics, Géodis, Norbert Dentressangle and Stef-TFE. Various international companies also operate in France, making major and repeated investments to set up logistics platforms all over the country, including Arvato Services, DHL, Fedex, Kaoten Natie, Kuehne & Nagel, Nippon Express, NYK Logistics, Schenker, Wincanton, and Ziegler.

Recent investments in 2007 have confirmed the attractiveness of France: for example, IKEA has just opened its European logistics centre at Fos-sur-Mer, creating 500 jobs, and Amazon has set up a second distribution centre in the Loiret region, creating 200 jobs.

Philippe Favre, President of the Invest in France Agency, says, “France has remarkable advantages and can offer numerous development opportunities for companies in this sector: an extremely favourable geographical location that offers a natural gateway into Europe, with easy access to a market of 450 million consumers; a modern, high-performance and safe transport network that is fully interconnected with the main countries in Europe; a mature market that is open to competition and transparent for new arrivals, offering the expertise of players throughout the entire logistics chain; a real estate park managed by local municipal authorities that provides an attractive offer in terms of warehouse rental. Rental costs are very competitive: €53/m² in Paris and €50/m² in Lyons, compared to €179/m² in London, €109/m² in Barcelona, €63/m² in Rotterdam and €70/m² in Munich.”

Recent changes will further improve the attractiveness of France: reform of autonomous ports and their manpower, based on the principle of the transfer of equipment to private operators, concerning both equipment and salaried worker employment contracts; opening up of airport concessions to private operators; deregulation of railway freight transport in Europe and the creation of corridors with improved width; and the opening up of canal networks to the wide-berth European network (Seine Nord project).

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