are warehouses multiplying in France?

In Europe, around 27 million m² of warehouses will be needed by 2025 to meet e-commerce demand. In reality, high-profile Amazon projects remain rare…

This is the submerged part of the iceberg. Tons of concrete and sheet metal that we tend to forget about when ordering our products online. If e-commerce still nibbles a little more market share from stores and boutiques, it remains totally dependent on warehouses, very real from them, which will continue to grow throughout the territory in the coming years.

Around 27 million m² will be needed in Europe by 2025 to meet demand, according to data from the CBRE Real Estate group. Warehouses, the cornerstone of logistics, make it possible to store, pack and prepare the millions of orders ordered over the internet and, inevitably, confinements have accelerated online shopping. These accounted for 112 billion euros last year in France, an increase of 8.5% in one year. Good news for the big chain stores that have compensated for the closures with shipments, but a new headache to deliver orders on time.

hard to find m²

Thus, in recent months, openings have multiplied. Last week, office supplies specialist Manutan opened a 9,000m² extension to its Gonesse warehouse, which now covers an area of ​​41,000m² to “store 2x more products” and “process 4x more orders daily”. At the beginning of the month, the real estate company Argan delivered a new 22,000 m² warehouse near Orléans, already leased to the FGD group, leader in the non-food retail market.

“It is a tight market where it is very difficult to find extra square meters”, comments Diana Diziain, deputy director of Afilog, an association that brings together players in the sector.

Warehouse of Manutan
The Manutan warehouse © Manutan

Today, warehouses of more than 5,000 m² represent almost 90 million m², practically the area of ​​Paris. If we extend this number to the land area used by all sites, we reach close to 300 million m² for just over 4,000 establishments. And the number is growing: “we built 16 million m² in the last ten years, we expect the same for the next ten years”, summarizes Diana Diziain.

Best player in these extraordinary projects is Amazon, whose projects often turn into a political and militant dispute. The creation of a 38,000 m² logistics platform near Pont-du-Gard crystallizes these tensions. He’s not the only one, and as of now, department store projects are causing an outcry, even when the American giant isn’t worried.

moderate dynamics

In reality, this dynamic ends up being moderate and 2020 was even a small year: 2 million m² created against 2.4 million in 2019 and 3.9 million in 2018. Perhaps this should be seen as a postponement of projects that could inflate the numbers for years on end. come.

“There will be a slight growth, but not as strong as today”, however tempers Jean-Claude Le Lan, the head of Argan. “E-commerce is a growing sector, but it is above all the pure players that need new warehouses.”

Pure players are therefore Amazon or Cdiscount. The former built almost 800,000 m² between 2015 and 2019, compared to 268,000 m² for the French. Growth that will likely slow down. “Demand will continue to be stimulated, but not exactly by pure players”, Judge Diana Diziain.

Most current warehouses have nothing to do with these players. “Major distribution accounts for 50% of warehouses”, recalls Jean-Claude Le Lan. They don’t necessarily need to create extensions, but they often need to adapt assumptions that have become obsolete. “What’s new today is storage in urban areas with small surfaces”, continues the boss. Obviously very expensive surfaces…

Clearly, we are far from a construction boom.

gain in cubic meters

But for logistics agents, the issue of warehouses is obviously sensitive. On Tuesday, the Senate decided to include, against the government’s advice, an amendment to strongly limit the establishment of new department stores. A way to “stop the amazonization of France” according to an ecological senator. “There is a dogmatic reluctance” breathes Diane Diziain.

However, Afilog believes that the sector has made efforts, especially with regard to the environment. Witness the Casino mega-warehouse, used for the Monoprix brand, which aims to be “carbon neutral” with the use of geothermal energy, LED lighting or remote control. Manufacturers are also preparing a letter with the government, due this month, to strengthen their environmental commitments.

In return, they hope to be able to more easily take advantage of vacant land (generally intended for housing and offices) and, above all, to be able to increase the height limit of warehouses, from the current twelve to fifteen or twenty meters. Because to prevent the spread, warehouses must go up. “Actually, we don’t think in square meters, but in cubic meters”, insists Diane Diziain. A way to calm the critics?

Thomas Le Roy BFM Business Journalist

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