Antwerp, Rotterdam and Düsseldorf are the best logistics hubs in Europe, but they face a growing challenge from emerging hubs in the east of the continent, according to a report by Colliers International, a global commercial real estate company.
The three cities form part of the so-called “Blue Banana “hubs in northwest Europe, which remain the ideal platform for pan-European distribution activities for the majority of the European consumer market, the study said.
Liege, Belgium, and Lille, France, offer a good balance between market access maximization and competitive operational costs.
Brussels, Hamburg, Venlo, Netherlands, Amsterdam, and Paris make up the rest of the top 10.
These hubs are in the most densely populated and richest area in Europe and are the logical choice for companies seeking the largest number of customers as quickly and readily as possible.
From Antwerp, around 143 million people can be reached by truck within nine hours.
Most Blue Banana cities owe their high score to their privileged position near some of Europe’s largest seaports and cargo airports, which function as gateways for non-European Union markets and through which a large proportion of goods leaving or entering the continent transit.
Northern Italy also offers good growth potential for distribution operations, especially given the expected increase in freight traffic through northern Adriatic ports.
Western Europe’s distribution dominance will be increasingly challenged by some hubs in Central and Eastern Europe, such as Prague or Bratislava, Slovakia, as the center of Europe gradually shifts to the east, the report says.
Eastern Europe is the best location for low-cost distribution — the top three are Kiev, Istanbul and Bratislava — but its distribution benefits remain of a local or sub-regional nature.
Strategically located hubs in Turkey and Russia, such as Istanbul or Moscow, are increasingly integrated into the global supply chain and will gain further importance as trade links with the Far East and the Middle East strengthen.
Southern Europe has no clear competitive advantages, but this might change on the back of structural reforms being implemented in some countries.