Location, Location, Location
For a long time, the region around the city of Walsrode in the federal state of Niedersachsen struggled with structural challenges. But in recent years, the region once reliant on chemical firms has evolved into an efficient e-commerce logistics location.
The commercial landscape around the Industrial Park Walsrode is characterized by the chemical and packaging industries. For many years, the leading employer in the area was Wolff Walsrode, a subsidiary of the chemicals giant Bayer. “But the wave of restructuring in the 1990s and 2000s has left its mark,” explains Michael Krohn, managing director of the local business development agency, Deltaland. Wolff Walsrode was divided up by various companies, including the American chemical group Dow and the Finnish Wihuri Group. This step came along with substantial job losses in the area. In the late 1970s, Wolff Walsrode alone had employed around 4,000. By the end of 2019, there were just 1,800 jobs in the whole industrial park across five employers.
Emerging logistics hub
And yet the region is strategically located in the state of Niedersachsen, situated between the major cities of Hamburg, Bremen and Hannover. The cities are connected by the A7 and A27 freeways, which are major axes in northern Germany. Hannover’s international airport is a 35-minute drive away, and the North Sea ports are also within easy reach. For Deltaland’s managing director, this was reason enough to promote the region as a logistics hub.
The breeding of green microalgae in a biogas plant in the Walsrode area for use in a photobioreactor system. A fine example of a future-focused project which is driving structural change. © WFG Deltaland mbH
Dow already recognized the potential of the site when it bought the industrial park in 2007. In addition to Dow and its successor DuPont, three other large companies are located there, including the film manufacturer Wipak, a subsidiary of Helsinki-based Wihuri, and Epurex Films, a subsidiary of the materials manufacturer Covestro. Public funding to drive structural change was provided by Niedersachsen and the European Union.
“We have constantly introduced ourselves to project developers and brokers, and attended trade fairs and congresses,” recalls Krohn. The effort paid off. In 2015, the “A27park Walsrode” opened up another industrial area, where e-commerce companies such as the Irish toy manufacturer Smyths Toys are locating their European logistics arms.
The area is expected to expand to a further 40ha in the coming years. “This will allow SMEs as well as other large corporations to settle here,” says Krohn. The location is well suited to import and export businesses, as goods can be transported to the freeway, airports and the northern German seaports quickly and efficiently.
The fact that several international companies are already in the region makes it easier for foreign investors to commit. Resident service providers are used to dealing internationally, and building permits are issued quickly.