All roads lead back to the Lokeren industrial park
Things are bustling on the outskirts of Lokeren. Ever since the arrival of stow Robotics and Barry Callebaut’s brand-new distribution centre, more and more players are quickly finding their way to the industrial park close to the E17 motorway. “But the potential of our city is not just limited to its superb location,” said Joost Uwents, CEO of logistics property developer WDP and who was recently nominated for Most Deserving Lokeren Resident (Meest Verdienstelijke Lokeraar).
Robots en chocolate
WDP breathed new life into DPG Media’s old building on behalf of stow Robotics. The old publishing house is now a multifaceted centre that combines research, production and sales. stow Robotics is a pioneering specialist in automation for warehouses and was named Entrepreneur of the Year in 2020. The company’s arrival created some 200 jobs in Lokeren.
In the meantime, the logistics hub for chocolate manufacturer Barry Callebaut that WDP completed in 2021 is now running at full capacity. It is the largest chocolate distribution centre in the world covering some 60,000 m².
stow Robotics and Barry Callebaut, and many other large and smaller players, deliberately choose Lokeren because the E17 is an important logistics artery. Joost Uwents: “The central location and superb visibility of the building are absolutely added value for them. Yet the location is certainly not the only reason why Lokeren is so in demand by these types of companies.”
Talent and zeal
“Most of the companies in the industrial park are internationally oriented, but they welcome local staff with open arms, whether blue-collar, white-collar workers or techies,” said Joost. According to him, the Lokeren people’s drive is the reason for this:
“A lot of young people graduate from the VTI in Lokeren every year. These young men and women are bursting with talent and are highly motivated to get things done. On the other hand, more and more highly educated people live in Lokeren who love their city and also want to stay here.”
'Fel naturel' or 'nature above all'
Lokeren’s slogan is ’Fel naturel’ for a reason. Although the city came to WDP to expand the industrial park, not all Lokeren residents were immediately won over by the idea. “But people can rest assured. At WDP, we actually want to help industrial companies become green businesses. In everything we do, we keep the future generations in mind,” concluded the CEO.
The old DPG Media building is now much more sustainable. And Barry Callebaut’s new site even runs completely energy-neutral. It has geothermal heating solutions and charge points for electric freight transport.