Groenewout advises Hollister on setup of new European Distribution Center

22 November 2018

Hollister recently moved into its brand-new European distribution center in Oud-Gastel in the Netherlands. To realise this new-build project, the company enlisted Groenewout’s expertise – and not for the first time. Job Sonke, Manager of the Hollister European Distribution Center: “An excellent decision that has once again paid off.”

Hollister is an independent US-based company that develops, manufactures and markets healthcare products worldwide. The products are shipped to the European Distribution Center (EDC) from the production facilities in the USA, Ireland, Denmark and India. The EDC then takes care of onward distribution throughout the entire EMEA region.

Outgrown the capacity 

Following consecutive years of sustained growth, the US company had outgrown its previous EDC in Etten-Leur. “Our company is growing, so it’s only logical our distribution capacity needs to keep pace. But that was becoming increasingly difficult,” explains Job Sonke, Manager of the Hollister European
 Distribution Center. “We’d already utilised major available expansion opportunities, like adding a mezzanine. We had to lease external storage space, despite it reducing our efficiency and incurring unnecessary costs. We were also forced to take a very cautious approach to supplementary activities and further growth. We simply didn’t have enough space to offer extra value-added services.”

Against that backdrop, and in the knowledge the lease contract for the EDC in Etten-Leur was up for renewal, Hollister asked Groenewout – a Netherlands-based supply chain consulting firm – to help investigate and select a new, bigger location. “We’ve been working with Groenewout for over a decade. They were a great help to us in 2007 during the construction and design of our EDC in Etten-Leur. They are familiar with our organisation and also know which decisions we’ve made in the past and why. That makes it very easy to communicate,” adds Sonke.

Reconfirmed choice of location

During the most recent collaborative project, Groenewout conducted an up-to-date review of Hollister’s European distribution network, taking the company’s future production locations into account. The study reconfirmed the desire of Hollister to keep the EDC in the West-Brabant region. “We were very keen to retain all of our Etten-Leur Associates, but we also had to demonstrate that it was the best location from an economic perspective,” continues Sonke. “The central position between the large ports of Rotterdam and Antwerp, the proximity to the airports in Amsterdam and Brussels, and the motorway links to western and southern Europe all mean West-Brabant is still the most ideal location for our activities.”

Groenewout advises Hollister on setup of new European Distribution Center

Detailed advice

Groenewout also handled a more detailed location study and the selecting of a right developer. The consultancy examined how well the available locations in West-Brabant matched the Hollister search criteria. “They looked at things such as the amount of land, the possibilities for expansion, and the distance from our existing location,” explains Sonke. Groenewout also supervised the commercial process to arrive at a sound development and lease contract, including negotiating the rent. The chosen developer was HVBM, which developed and completed the new facility within a year – the distribution center opened at the start of this year.


The new EDC on the Borchwerf II industrial estate in Oud-Gastel is based on a build-to-suit concept and meets all of the wants and needs of Hollister. With 30,000 square metres of warehousing space and a further 3,560 square metres on the mezzanine floor, the distribution center offers enough room to perform the value-added services in addition to the warehouse activities. “The warehouse design also enables us to make new efficiency gains,” says Sonke. “For example, a conveyor system will further increase our picking productivity and ensure we stick to the cut-off times even more precisely.” 

Moreover, the BREEAM-certified facility supports Hollister in achieving its sustainability objectives. The project took the future into consideration in other respects too. For example, the extremely level floor in the EDC opens up the opportunity to create a narrow-aisle warehouse without any problems in order to further increase the storage capacity. Moreover, if growth continues, the new Hollister facility in Oud-Gastel can be extended relatively easily, because an extra 11,000 square metre unit has been built at the EDC and Hollister has negotiated an option on the space for the next five years.

‘No surprises’ 

As manager of the European distribution center, Sonke is happy with how the partnership with Groenewout went: “The project was completed on time and on budget, and without having any impact on our service. Our lease contract on the old EDC expired at the end of April 2018. The new building work was completed at the end of 2017 and we’ve been serving our customers from our new home since March 2018.”

“That is largely thanks to the effective and pleasant collaboration with Groenewout. They have various specialists in-house for the various project phases, and every one of them has a wealth of experience and the right expertise. Once again, we were able to completely depend on those experts. Throughout the entire process we constantly felt as if the Groenewout project team were an extension of our own organisation. They take a proactive, problem-solving approach and coordinate things carefully.”

The interview with Job Sonke, Manager of the Hollister European Distribution Center, was conducted by journalist Mark Dohmen.

Azerbaijan's air navigation service provider flies in Helios

19 April 2019

Azerbaijan’s Azeraeronavigation, the country’s air navigation service provider, has selected aviation consultancy Helios to support it with the upgrade of its communication, navigation and surveillance systems infrastructure for air traffic management.

Bordering with Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Russia from the north and east, Iran from the south, and Georgia, Armenia and Turkey from the west, Azerbaijan’s airspace is used by dozens of international and national carriers. The country’s airspace, of which 86,600 sq. km is land and 78,000 sq. km is above the Caspian sea area, currently spans a route network of around 8,000 km. 

Azeraeronavigation, the organisation which control the country’s air traffic management (ATM) and communication navigation and surveillance systems (CNS), needs to prepare for a growing number of commercial flights passing through its airspace. The organisation has also developed a strategy to become one of the best performing and innovative air navigation service providers in the region. To support delivery of both objectives, the organisation has brought consultants from Helios on board.Azerbaijan's air navigation service provider flies in HeliosHelios will assess Azeraeronavigation’s current infrastructure with a particular focus on improving the efficiency and effectiveness of its components, and help to develop an implementation roadmap. This will include an action plan and development of options for evolution of the infrastructure, covering criteria such as capacity, new technology, safety, cost-efficiency and more.

“This project will enable us to fully prepare for the future, improve our efficiency and take advantage of innovative technologies, as well as to decide on the best way forward in order to meet the ultimate goal of providing high-value and excellent services to our users,” said Farhan Guliyev, director of Azeraeronavigation. 

Commenting on the project, Helios’s chief executive officer Claire Davies said, “We are delighted to be supporting Azeraeronavigation on this ambitious and important project. Helios has extensive experience and a deep understanding of air traffic management and communication, navigation and surveillance systems. I am confident we will be able to help them accelerate their exciting programme of improvement.” 

Last year, Ukraine's national air traffic service provider hired experts from Helios to oversee a systems upgrade project.