The logistics sector in France has become a powerful economic sector offering consistent market growth year after year. The logistics sector employs approximately five million people throughout Europe (1.5 million in France), and has become an economy operating on a continental scale with a global scope.
Various factors have contributed to the sector’s expansion in recent years: globalization, of course, as well as a growing container industry, a high-performance road and rail network, highly efficient port and airport platforms, the numerous options for maritime and land transportation, and IT and telecommunications networks that enable optimal management of transport and storage. France has been a pioneer in the logistics revolution since the 1980s. The growth in the number of operators is likely to increase with the development of outsourcing. Alongside major French specialist groups such as Norbert Dentressangle, Stef-TFE, G’odis, FM Logistics, various international companies also operate in France: FedEx, DHL, Kuehne & Nagel, Arvato Services, Schenker, Ziegler, Kaoten Natie, Wincanton, Nippon Express, and NYK Logistics, to name a few.‘These groups’have become serial investors, setting up logistics platforms all over France. Recent new investments attest to France’s continued attractiveness: for example, IKEA recently opened its European logistics center at Fos-sur-Mer, creating 500 jobs, and Amazon set up a second distribution center in the Loiret region, creating 200 jobs. As Philippe Favre, the president of Invest in France Agency, points out, ‘France has remarkable advantages and can offer numerous development opportunities for companies in this sector: an extremely favorable 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.” Favre also points out the competitive rental costs, such as ‘53/m’‘($6.30/ft’) in Paris and ‘50 ($6/ft’)‘in Lyon, compared to ‘179/m’ ($21/ft’) in London, ‘109 ($13/ft’) in Barcelona, ‘63 ($7.50/ft’) in Rotterdam and ‘70 ($8.40/ft’) in Munich. Recent developments will further improve the attractiveness of France for investors: 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 airport concessions to private operators; deregulation of railway freight transport in Europe and the creation of corridors with improved width; and opening up canal networks to the wide-berth European network (Seine Nord project).