The merger of auctions strongly contributed to the development of ABC Westland. The Dutch business park was full in just a few years, and the land bought later is now also practically fully occupied. Yet ABC Westland isn’t done growing.
ABC Westland was started in 1999. After The Greenery was founded, many buildings became vacant, including the auction complex in Poeldijk. Valstar, Van Rijn and Flora Holland bought the site, and appointed Herwi Rijsdijk as manager. “After a plan for redevelopment was drawn up, the revitalization project was started,” Herwi looks back on that period. “Twenty per cent of the site was immediately filled. The merger of the auctions caused quite a commotion in the world of fresh produce. A lot of companies were searching. That gave us wings.” In 2002, the entire site was filled, and another 20 hectares were bought because of persistent demand.
The total complex of 55 hectares is owned by ABC Westland. This means that, in addition to facilitating real estate, park management is also done in-house. This includes, among other things, management, maintenance and security of the site. “ABC Westland management is divided into a number of divisions,” the manager explains. “For example, there’s a leasing company for letting company and office spaces, and the development company for buying and selling land. Besides, we have office complex Westlandse Poort at our site, and Food Center Westland, which was founded in 2015. ABC Westland is now as good as full, but contrary to other business parks in Westland, we still have room for expansion.” A lot of horticultural products are still traded and processed at the business park. Yet the proportion to import products has shifted to a 50/50 division in recent years. “Supermarkets require the total range year-round in many cases. The ABC Westland cluster can be of great service to them in that regard.”
A lot of demand for own cold store
With the purchase of adjacent land and negotiations with a number of adjacent growers, some 20 hectares of land is available for continued growth. “We have a luxurious position because of this. The Westland is practically full, while there’s no lack of interest,” Herwi says. “Importers of exotics and other overseas products in particular show a lot of interest. Foreign companies that want to start a gateway to Europe here, for instance, but current entrepreneurs that choose to continue shortening and managing their supply chain, as well. Just a sales office is no longer enough in those cases.” The logistical service is also on the rise, according to Herwi. This includes, among other things, sorting and packing stations that respond to increasingly stricter requirements of supermarkets in the field of packaging, labels, quality and the like.
ABC Westland’s focus is and will remain on fresh produce, but ornamental plant production and horticultural companies also make use of ABC Westland’s site and facilities. “All players from the fresh produce supply chain are represented here, from production to final product. Think of import and export companies, sorting companies, packing stations, transporters, cold stores, ripening plants, customs entrepôts, growers’ associations and service providers. The option to exchange mutual services, products and knowledge is a major benefit. Transport companies from Westland, for example, enter the site every day, so that products can be transported as efficiently as possible. The totality of the cluster combined with its location, near the Port of Rotterdam and in the centre of the largest Dutch greenhouse farming region, contribute to the strong position of ABC Westland.”
Reorientation of fresh market necessary
There are some worries about the wholesaler’s centre for retail and catering, which has a direct link to the consumer market. Food Center Westland was founded three years ago, but hasn’t been successful yet, according to Herwi. “It’s difficult to attract companies that strengthen each other, and that completely meet and continue to meet requirements. The detached units with cold stores are currently leased without any problems, because of the lack of cold store. A reorientation will be necessary regarding the function and interpretation of the Food Center, because if we continue this way, the covered fresh market probably won’t have a future.”
An important point of attention for the business park, as well as for other clusters in the Westland, is retaining its strong position. This includes options to expand. Now that the Westland is filling up, more room should soon be made available, according to Herwi. Besides, they also started renewing their old halls. By building upwards, the available land can be used more efficiently. “We’re trying to keep in mind the still increasing supply per container, because we’re not quite ready for that yet. This requires different heights for docks, for example. This way, lorries become even more usable. The accessibility from and to the Westland is also high on the agenda. Currently, options for a container and train terminal are looked into. The containers could then be shipped from Maasvlakte 2 by boat to a terminal, and from there to destinations further away by road or train. We definitely see a future in this, and it also fits our sustainability policy.”
Taking sustainable steps
ABC Westland is one of the most sustainable business parks in the Netherlands. Two years ago, 16,000 solar panels were installed on roofs, and another 2,300 solar panels will soon be added to that. Herwi: “Because of this, 40 per cent of total electricity use of the leased buildings is generated sustainably. We respond to requirements of international supermarkets this way by lowering the CO2 footprint of fruit and vegetables. Besides, the site has many charging stations for electric cars, and we’re working on realising a biogas installation with a number of companies. Another major benefit of the cluster: taking steps together to benefit everyone.”