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Located 30 kilometres from Poland’s geographic centre, Łódź is at the heart of the country and, to some extent, Europe. Its advantageous location is now being matched by improved transport links, as Sebastian Shehadi discovers.

The Łódź region was ranked the third most desirable logistics location in Europe and the best performing market outside western Europe in a 2017 Prologis survey.

Over the past 15 years, Poland’s infrastructure has undergone rapid development, with central Poland and Łódź among the major beneficiaries, as they form the country’s main transportation node.

At the heart of Europe

Łódź is at the crossroads of two major trans-European transport network corridors: the Baltic-Adriatic route from Gdansk to Italy, and the North Sea-Baltic route from Belgium to Estonia. The city will also benefit from the western section of the Ring Road, which is set to connect all pan-European highways on its completion in 2022.

Further afield, Łódź boasts a direct rail connection with Chengdu in China, as part of the latter’s Belt and Road Initiative. Trains take roughly 13 days to transport goods to China – far quicker than the 45 days required by maritime shipping.

Local company Hatrans Logistics also wants to create a large multifunction ‘dry port’ to aggregate all rail transfers from China to central Europe, according to Adam Pustelnik, director of Łódź’s Investor Service and International Co-operation Bureau. “It’s a monumental initiative since export from China to Europe is huge. Łódź could be a major gateway,” he says.

Another of Łódź’s selling points is its proximity to Poland’s capital, Warsaw, an hour-and-a-half away by car, and the relationship between the two cities is becoming increasingly symbiotic.

The recent redevelopment of Łódź Fabryczna station has cut the Warsaw commute to 70 minutes, thereby further plugging Łódź into the capital and bolstering the so-called ‘duopolis’.

“Łódź wants to become a district of Warsaw’s economic environment – we’re basically already a suburb of Warsaw. [This is a duopolis],” says Mr Pustelnik. Thousands of workers commute from Łódź to Warsaw daily, and it is often quicker to get to central Warsaw from Łódź than from Warsaw’s suburbs.

Feeding off Warsaw

The ‘duopolis effect’ has already attracted foreign companies looking for proximity to Poland’s capital alongside the affordability, quality of life and talent offered by Łódź. “It’s inefficient to put all resources in the capital. Front offices might be there, and Łódź can have the back offices,” says Mr Pustelnik.

Duopolis will get a huge boost if Warsaw Chopin Airport, a 90-minute drive from Łódź, moves outside the city. Envisaged to be a major international hub handling 40 million passengers yearly, it will be located between Łódź and Warsaw upon completion in 2028, should things go to plan.

“Nobody knows if it will happen. It’s a crazy idea. Why would people from Asia [or elsewhere] use this new airport as a hub? We already have so many,” says Andrzej Kuczyński, project management office director at TME, one of the largest global distributors of electronic components, headquartered in Łódź. Nonetheless, he would be happy to see such an airport built. “We work a lot with Warsaw and Leipzig airport. For me, Łódź local airport is dead.” 

However, this has not stopped TME becoming a European logistics leader. The company dispatched parcels to more than 145 countries and roughly 155,000 customers in 2017.

“TME has been so successful because of Łódź’s location and connectivity. Also, Łódź offers both types of workers: hands-on and office workers. We don’t need to outsource much, we have many specialists found in Łódź’s talent pool. Finally, we’re much cheaper than Warsaw, Kraków or Gdańsk,” says Mr Kuczyński.

This article is sourced from fDi Magazine
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