(CS) Luxembourg's Freeport is set to open its doors in September 2014, but the high-end warehouse will offer much more than just storage space for luxury goods, operators explained at an American Chamber of Commerce lunch event.
David Arendt, General Manager of Natural Le Coultre Luxembourg SA, which is building the Luxembourg Freeport and will own and operate the facilities, pointed out many of the warehouse's advantages at the event on Monday.
First and foremost, the Luxembourg Freeport will be a logistics platform for the handling, storage and trading of luxury goods. These goods will range from fine arts to precious metals, wines, jewels and more. Even digital material can be stored at the Freeport, Arendt explained.
Different storage zones, geared towards accommodating different products, will be installed at the 20,000 square metre complex located close to the airport's other cargo facilities.
The Luxembourg Freeport – a one-stop-shop
However, the Luxembourg Freeport will be more than a state-of-the-art storage space, Arendt pointed out. A team of experts will also be on hand to analyse luxury goods, for example ensuring that customers receive the original painting they bought rather than a forgery.
Additionally, carpenters will be available to take care of framing artwork or repairing and restoring antiques. On the whole, the Luxembourg Freeport aims to provide all services at the convenience of customers who store their luxury goods there, Arendt explained.
The General Manager aims for the Freeport to become a one-stop-shop, which also includes insurance, photography of stored items and showrooms, where owners or potential buyers can view the products under expert conditions.
Negotiations with six to ten forwarders are ongoing, Arendt revealed, who added that the Freeport aims to attract new players to Luxembourg in this niche market. However, the Freeport could also be beneficial for the Grand Duchy's investment fund industry, as there is an increasing amount of investments in physical assets.
Banks based in Luxembourg can also profit from the new warehouse, Arendt said, with a possibility to outsource storage of valuable goods.
Arendt also pointed out the role which the Freeport could play in the field of preserving cultural heritage, acting as a neutral platform where goods are safeguarded, for example to aid museums or collectors.
24-hour security and the latest safety technology
There is one thing the Freeport will not be, however. “The Freeport is NOT a safe haven for stolen goods,” Arendt said. The premises will be under the supervision of Luxembourg customs officials, who will make sure that all goods are registered and cleared as appropriate with several offices on site.
While the Freeport acts as a free trade zone, benefiting from suspended VAT or customs duties when goods are imported to or exported from Luxembourg, goods have to be cleared properly at their country of departure or destination.
With no limit on the maximum overall value of goods stored at the Freeport, security is of the utmost importance, and Arendt was confident that it would be “impossible” to break into the facilities, which will be surrounded by a three-metre high reinforced concrete wall, and equipped with security staff around the clock, with several security check-points for staff or visitors entering the Freeport.
All vehicles and people entering the Freeport will be checked, and visitors will be supervised at all times while on the premises.
Additionally, the Freeport will offer the latest in fire-safety technology, as well as seismic control, for example to detect the unlikely case of attempted robbery by drilling through the walls of the warehouse.
Helping establish Luxembourg as a logistics hub
Construction on the project began in late 2012 after the Luxembourg government granted planning permission. While it is a private venture, the Grand Duchy's Economy and Finance Ministries have welcomed the project, as it is hoped to further establish Luxembourg as a logistics hub in the heart of Europe.
The 50 million euro investment will also create between 50 and 100 jobs.
The Freeport will be the first of its kind in the EU, with the closest similar warehouse located in Geneva. The Geneva Freeport is currently working on expanding, similar to Singapore's Freeport, showing the growing demand for this kind of activity.
Natural Le Coultre SA, which also operates at the Geneva and Singapore Freeports, is a household name in the management of luxury goods, bringing years of expertise to the Grand Duchy.
Counting on the success of the venture, an expansion of the warehouse has already been made possible, should it become necessary, with more land available to the operators.