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CityDepot: kick-start in Brussels

thursday -
Kabinet Smet

CityDepot arrived in Brussels only four months ago and it has already convinced 800 companies to use its urban freight distribution services. The project keeps the big trucks out of the inner city by using small electric vans on the final part of the journey between supplier and shop. ‘Everybody wins with this system’, says Pascal Smet, minister of mobility. ‘The Brussels citizen sees less trucks in his city and the shopkeeper benefits from a tailor-made service.’

CityDepot specializes in urban freight distribution. Last October it launched a pilot project in Brussels with the support of the Brussels Region and of the European LaMiLo- project (last mile logistics). The approach is simple: freight carriers no longer supply their goods directly to each individual shop or company in the inner cities. Instead, they leave the goods in warehouses outside the city centre, run by CityDepot. From there the goods are put in small, ecological vehicles to be distributed in the inner city.

Four months later, the balance is already positive. Both the Brussels retailers and the national freight carriers quickly understood the benefits of this system. CityDepot already has over 800 customers and their number is growing week by week. Since October, the volume supplied has tripled. Customers mainly come from the retail sector (31 %), hotels (15 %), the industry (12 %) wholesale traders (13 %), hospitals (10 %). Among the customers we find some famous names, such as the Metropole Hotel, the KVS-theatre, the Ancienne Belgique and the Royal Palace.

If after six months the project is evaluated positively, the Brussels Region will continue CityDepot and expand its activities in Brussels. The long term objective would then be to develop this model in Brussels. Pascal Smet is very pleased with the results achieved so far. ‘Such creative solutions are of utmost importance for the business climate in our city as well as for untying the mobility knot and for the quality of life of the Brussels residents,’ he says. ‘It is no coincidence that this formula is immediately successful.’

Distribution by means of cargo bikes

Currently CityDepot works with small electric vans in Brussels; from February onwards it will cooperate with the bike courier transport service of Ecopostale, the first Belgian zero CO2 emission logistics company. They will deliver goods to the shops by bike. ‘With our mixed fleet of fifteen vehicles (bicycles, cyclocargos and small electrical van) we have been delivering hundreds of packages per day in the past four years. It is therefore only logical that we participate in the CityDepot project,’ says Nicolas Etienne, general manager at Ecopostale. CityDepot deliberately chooses to partner with existing suppliers and act as the coordinator between different partners.

Since March 2012 CityDepot is active in Hasselt. It intends to gradually roll out its distribution model in several Belgian cities. Manager Marc Schepers explains: ‘CityDepot receives the goods on behalf of the traders. Afterwards, the products are delivered within the time-frame and quantities chosen by the shop-owners. This approach results in a win-win situation for both merchants and regional authorities.’