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Five companies nominated for Foreign Investment of the Year 2017

Flanders Investment & Trade will be hosting its fifth Foreign Investment Trophy ceremony on Tuesday February 21, 2017 at the Ghelamco Arena in Ghent. During this prestigious event, the government agency highlights various remarkable foreign investments in Flanders, underlining the importance of foreign investment as a major economic driving force and source of employment in the region.

This year, five international companies have been nominated for the coveted title of Investment of the Year. In addition to the renowned Lifetime Achievement Trophy, this year’s edition will also see the introduction of the Newcomer of the Year award.

Geert Bourgeois, Minister-President of Flanders, will be presenting the Lifetime Achievement Trophy. Claire Tillekaerts, CEO at Flanders of Investment & Trade, will be announcing the Foreign Investment of the Year. This title is granted to the nominee that receives the majority of votes from both a professional jury and the general public. Voting opens on January 25 and takes place online at

These are the five nominees:

1. Air conditioning manufacturer Daikin (Japan) builds 2 ultramodern testing rooms in Ostend

Ever since Daikin was founded in 1924, the Japanese manufacturer of air conditioning solutions, cooling systems and fluorochemicals has grown into a key industry player. Last year, the company’s European branch invested EUR 25.5 million in Flanders; EUR 6.6 million of which went to its European Development Center in Ostend. Not only will Daikin Europe be adding 2 state-of-the-art testing rooms at the facility, Ostend’s largest employer will also be hiring an additional 35 engineers.

“The investment demonstrates Daikin’s trust in both Flanders and the capabilities, know-how and expertise of our workforce in Ostend,” says Frans Hoorelbeke, Chairman of Daikin Europe.

Corporate website:

2. Sporting goods chain Decathlon (France) expands its distribution center in Willebroek

The first-ever Decathlon store opened its doors in 1976 in Lille, France. It took until 1997 for the French sporting goods chain to set up one of their retail outlets in Flanders. Nowadays, Decathlon stores can be found in most cities across the region. In the past 8 years alone, Decathlon has opened 9 new outlets in Flanders. In addition, the sports retailer is expanding its distribution facilities in Willebroek. Totaling an investment of EUR 7.11 million, the building will be operational in April and could result in up to 100 new jobs.

Besides opening 15 more outlets in Belgium, there are plans to organize logistics for Decathlon’s Belgian and Dutch e-commerce activities right in Willebroek.

Corporate website:

3. IVC (US) modernizes production site for vinyl parquet in Avelgem

Market frontrunner in vinyl flooring IVC was founded in Avelgem (Flanders) in 1997. In 2015, the business was acquired by US-based Mohawk Industries, the world’s largest flooring manufacturer. With an investment of EUR 110 million and the creation of 200+ jobs, Mohawk aims to further strengthen IVC’s market position. The production site in Avelgem will be expanded and equipped with the latest manufacturing technologies.

“Avelgem is situated near two important rivers - the Scheldt and the Leie – and just around the corner from our primary export markets: France, the Netherlands, Germany and the UK,” CEO Jan Vergote explains. “Also, our teams in Flanders boast major innovation skills.”

Corporate website:

4. Pharma company Sanofi (France) invests in biotech factory in Geel

French pharma giant Sanofi is a global healthcare leader. To reinforce its position, the company is investing EUR 300 million in its production plant in Geel, Flanders. Not only will the site welcome 100 new employees, the facility will also be expanded by 8000 m2 for the production of monoclonal antibodies, which are an active ingredient of the newest generation of biological medicines.

“Over the past 15 years, over EUR 900 million has already been invested in this site,” says Gunther Pauwels, General Manager of Sanofi in Geel. “And there will be plenty of room for future expansion after this current investment round.”

Corporate website:

5. Package delivery company UPS (US) builds a brand-new distribution center in Lummen

With 444,000 employees in over 220 countries, United Parcel Service (UPS) delivers 18.3 million packages and documents each day. Last year, the American company announced an investment of EUR 4 million to construct a new distribution center in Lummen, Flanders. The site will come with a 5000-packages-per-hour sorting capacity, creating up to 150 new jobs.

“With this investment, we respond to the growing popularity of e-commerce,” says Karl Haberkorn, Country Manager at UPS Belux. “Flanders is the perfect place to do so: the region is one of the world’s top 10 locations for logistics, while Lummen is near the Port of Antwerp and our airport hub in Germany.”

Corporate website:

Find out more about the nominees and their investments in Flanders at


Foreign investments are a major driving force behind our economy. Not only do these investments generate new jobs, they also add to the appeal of our region to other foreign investors. By nominating these companies for the Foreign Investment Trophy event, we highlight the importance of foreign investments for Flanders. The awards are a token of recognition and appreciation for their ongoing commitment.

Claire Tillekaerts (CEO Flanders Investment & Trade)

The nominations for Foreign Investment of the Year highlight several important assets of Flanders. From worldwide logistics players such as US-based UPS and France-based Decathlon, to biotech specialists like French pharma giant Sanofi, or global manufacturing companies such as IVC – the subsidiary of US-based Mohawk Industries – and Japanese firm Daikin: in Flanders, foreign investors find the knowledge and expertise they need.

Geert Bourgeois (Minister-President of Flanders)

Press contacts

John Verzeele, Director Inward Investment,, +32 2 504 88 83.

About FIT

Flanders Investment & Trade (FIT) actively promotes sustainable international business throughout Flanders as a key element in the socio-economic development of the region. FIT accomplishes this by supporting Flanders-based companies in their international business ventures and by attracting foreign investors.

FIT assists and encourages businesses across the Flanders region in their international endeavors and provides custom advice and support. Companies can call on the agency’s rich network of contacts both within the region and globally. FIT also offers financial support and information about the range of financial incentives available.

27 January 2017