Page 1

B E S T

O F

BELGIUM Volume

2

GVPedia.com


Showcasing Belgian Achievement… Welcome to the second volume of ‘Best of Belgium,’ in which we showcase this nation’s contemporary achievement, from the arts and fashion to business and innovation. This publication is built on a number of key elements. Firstly, there are the stories about Belgium’s best—the companies and organization profiled in this book are true leaders in their field. Also, these are the organizations that made this book possible and are helping to spread it around the world. Secondly, as editor, we wrote a number of articles—placed throughout the publication— that discuss some of the key Belgian achievements from the past year or two. Third, we invited a number of influential Belgians to contribute a personal vision statement—for example, see the contributions by Thomas Leysen from the Federation of Belgian Enterprises and Guy Quaden, chairman of the National Bank of Belgium. As publishers we express our gratitude to a number of organizations for their support in distributing this publication around the world. In particular these include this country’s Chambers of Commerce, the federal chamber, the regional chambers and the many international chambers that promote business links with our main trade partners. Also we thank Brussels Export, Flanders Investment & Trade, AWEX (Walloon Export Agency), the Federal Agency for Foreign Trade (organizer of the royal trade missions) and the Federal Public Service of Foreign Affairs for distributing the book to all corners of the world. ‘Best of Belgium’ will also go out to our colleagues in the Global Village Partnerships network, from Dubai and India to Australia and South Africa. Have a look at gvpedia.com to see how our network is growing. In the years ahead, ‘Best of Belgium’ will continue to document Belgian achievement, relying on the fact that Belgium is representative of a dynamic, creative Europe, a beacon of liberal democracy and social justice, where individuals have the space and inspiration to create that which makes our world a better place, be it in the realm of business, art or ideas. For Volume III expect deeper and sharper analysis, more vision articles by leading Belgians, and great photography. International Group Publisher Sven Boermeester Publisher and Editor Frank Boermeester Commercial Director Koen Christiaens Media Consultants Maarten Roofthooft, Joris De Wilder Editorial Contributors Peter Farlam Printing Antilope Printing Creative Direction Peter Batistich, Graham Cooper Photography Douglas Moors, Compagnie Gagarine Tervuursesteenweg 133/2 3001 Leuven Belgium Tel: +32 16 223669 Fax: +3216 292095 Email fboermeester@thefifthconference.com kchristiaens@thefifthconference.com Website www.thefifthconference.com www.gvpedia.com Published by The Fifth Conference bvba ISBN # 9789079056002

© Christophe Ketels / Compagnie Gagarine

Disclaimer Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information in the Best of Belgium vol.2 publication. Neither Best of Belgium nor The Fifth Conference bvba take any responsibility for errors or omissions. All rights reserved: No part of this publication shall be reproduced, copied, transmitted, adapted or modified in any form or by any means. This publication shall not be stored in whole or in part in any form in any retrieval system.

Regional Head Offices Bangalore • Bangkok • Brussels • Cairo • Copenhagen • Dubai Johannesburg • London • Singapore • Sydney • Washington DC

Best of Belgium




Economy and Industry

Turnover 2008 US$ 8 000 000

Employees & Partners 100

Circulation 500 000

International Head offices London, Brussels Dubai, Cairo Bangalore, Singapore Washington DC, Santiago Sydney, Johannesburg

Management Sven Boermeester Lisa Durante Charles Neil Leon Swartz Warren Haley

CELEBRATE SUCCESS With its mission to serve as the premier platform for showcasing and networking the world's top brands and companies in business, tourism and lifestyle, Global Village Partnerships (GVP) is building an atlas of success, sustainability and culture. This is carried out through the 'Best of' book series, the Global Village online information portal and the development of an ever expanding business network of international partners and clients.

Brand Image Branding a Nation, a City and its People GVP brands and builds the image of the world’s most exciting economic regions to affect a change in the perception of a nation, a city and its people by the rest of the world. This then promotes the region in terms of its investment opportunities, key industries, innovations, people, culture, tourism potential and international objectives.

Product - The Folders Fast track to the world Market Essentials works closely with Foreign Embassies, High Commissions, International Chambers of Commerce and Trade Associations worldwide to produce high quality trade folders. Each folder is designed to offer support and advice to companies interested in trading with or investing in overseas markets.

Product - The Books Celebrate your success The 'Best of‌' publishing series produces annual maxi format book publications in over 30 territories, from Bangalore to Belgium. These detail success stories of people and companies making positive inroads into the commercial fibre of both mature and emerging markets. The books showcase entrepreneurial spirit; establishing powerful global networks and the creation of individual brand awareness by bridging cultures. The result is the ultimate interactive corporate gift and P.R. marketing tool for governments, companies, hotels and business people providing leading products and services for their region.

Product - www.gvpedia.com Connecting the world's most interesting people and organisations The portal provides GVP customers an interactive Public Relations Box managed by a user friendly 'Enterprise Content Management System' that allows clients to upload their press releases, photos, videos and management profiles. The latest networking add-ons and social media applications are integrated within the site providing maximum reach and feedback. The value proposition for subscribers to gvpedia.com essentially covers four elements: exposure, expertise, exclusivity and networking.

REGIONAL HEAD OFFICES Bangalore Brussels

Cairo

Casablanca

Copenhagen

Dubai


www.gvpedia.com

Sven Boermeester, Chairman with Lisa Durante, Managing Partner, GVP

Market Promote and network the 'red apples" within each economy GVP’s market sectors embrace publishing, public relations, corporate gifting, online community building and networking. Its target market covers large, medium and small entrepreneurial organisations enjoying growth, success and sustainability. GVP explores every geographic region to pick the 'red apples' in business, exports, innovation, design, fashion, retail, hospitality, specialty foods, the arts and more. Unique Selling Point (USP) New markets create new business opportunities GVP publications promote, showcase and network successful economies, organisations

Johannesburg

London

and individuals from across the globe. The organisation celebrates success and provides recognition amongst its ever expanding international network of influential clients. Its online portal, www.gvpedia.com, provides a platform for clients and readers to network, share best practice and grow new markets, creating exciting new business connections and opportunities. Corporate Social Responsibility There is no success without ethics and sustainability The best of world business, travel and lifestyle within the Global Village is dependent on more than monetary profit. There is no success without core values such as sustainability, integrity and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). GVP’s exclusive client base is selected by

Santiago

Singapore

invitation only based on these criteria, with the added focus of dedicated chapters covering CSR, sustainability, green innovation and giving back to the community. Growth and Opportunity Exchanging knowledge, skills and economies of scale in media With regional head offices in 5 continents, the organisation is currently involved in more than 30 territories where the 'Best of' series is published. GVP has a 5-year growth plan to develop a further 150 economic territories organically, through each continent’s regional head office, and through partnerships with companies and individuals that have the expertise to showcase their city, state or country.

Sydney

Washington DC


Best of Belgium

Best of Belgium Distribution Partners Federal Government and Regional Export Organisations

Belgian Chambers of Commerce

Vlaams netwerk van ondernemingen

Belgian Chambers of Commerce abroad

Belgian Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce in Ireland www.blcc.ie

Hotels



Best of Belgium


Brussels You thought you knew it... Foreword from the Brussels-Capital Region

Brussels will never cease to surprise you. A national and European capital, it is now giving itself the means to achieve its ambitions and entering fully into the modern world with an ambitious International Development Plan. Brussels is a major city on a human scale, officially bilingual but in reality polyglot. The Capital of Europe is a crossroads of nationalities, a model of welcome and diversity, and a byword for dynamism and quality. Its open socio-economic environment, the high skill levels of its population, the quality of its infrastructures, the wide range of properties available, its quality of life and its cultural richness have made Brussels one of

the most pleasant cities to live and work in. Brussels is changing to meet the challenges of a globalised city. Brussels has just set itself an International Development Plan, which timetables the numerous actions to allow Brussels to better satisfy the desires of its inhabitants and visitors. Alongside the creation of new housing, businesses and offices, the International Development Plan provides for the creation of major infrastructures to help increase the appeal of Brussels still further: a huge conference centre, an expansive shopping centre, a large concert hall (15,000 seats), a multi-function stadium with 60,000 seats, etc. Strategic locations such as the European

Quarter, the Heysel Plateau and the area around Gare du Midi, the gateway to the city, will be renovated in order to make them highly attractive poles of development. The International Development Plan involves a major drive based around City Marketing, in order to strengthen the promotion of Brussels abroad so that the world is aware of all the resources that Brussels has to offer. So, come and feel the pulse of tomorrow’s Europe for yourself. You will discover a warm city offering open arms to the world, a city of creativity where culture is found as much on the streets as in prestigious museums. A global city where everyone is at home.

Best of Belgium




Foreword

Foreword by Minister-President Kris Peeters, Flemish Government

Dear reader, Flanders is the number two region in Europe for foreign direct investment. This ranking was reported in early 2008 by the Financial Times’ magazine-report on foreign direct investment. No doubt this ranking is the result of a clear vision on Flanders’ socio-economic future and its commitment to take firm action. And Flanders continues to create an increasing number of opportunities for foreign investors. Flanders is a prosperous region. Compared to other nations worldwide, our education system, health and welfare facilities, cultural agenda and mobility and communication infrastructure are of the highest quality. We work hard to keep Flanders’ prosperity at this high level in our rapidly changing world. Flanders in Action - safeguarding the future To cope adequately with future challenges, we have launched ‘Flanders in Action’, a number of coordinated socio-economic initiatives that optimize Flanders’ key strengths. Within this framework, we strive to maximize the full potential of our already highly reputed workforce. Its creative, innovative and entrepreneurial mindset is essential to Flanders’ future. We also look inward and continue to upgrade the services that our government administration has to offer. And as an open-minded region, we stay on top of new trends and new ideas from every corner of our globalized world. Sustainability is a focal point in all of our initiatives. This is especially so for the further development of



Best of Belgium

our central, geographical position in Europe and, more specifically, for our transport connections with the European hinterland. Flanders Port Area - streamlining our gateways Flanders is world-famous for its role as a major gateway to Europe. Our region holds no less than four seaports: Antwerp, Zeebrugge, Ghent and Ostend. Each of them plays a world-leading role in its own specialist niche, from the chemical industry to the transshipment of new cars, the import of citrus fruit juices and much, much more. Under the umbrella ‘Flanders Port Area’, these ports have formed a unique strategic alliance to cooperate. By streamlining their operations, they increase the efficiency of the services that are relied upon by the many multinationals based in or around these prime gateways to Europe. Creating a business-friendly environment Flanders aspires to create a businessfriendly environment for companies from all industries and from all over the world. Have a look at what Flanders’ knowledgebased, innovation-driven economy has to offer today. I’m confident you’ll be amazed at how many different market segments can be found in such a small territory. Yours truly, Kris Peeters Minister-president of Flanders


Foreword by Rudy Demotte, Minister-President of the Walloon Government Wallonia, a region to invest in! Did you know that the number 1 in digital cinema equipment is a Walloon company? That the most amazing James Bond or Harry Potter scenes were filmed using flying cameras made in Liège? That the voice technology used in the BMW Series 5 or the Mercedes Class S is produced by a company in Mons? Perhaps you’re unaware that 90% of the world market in radioisotopes, used in medical diagnostics, derives from a spin-off in Louvain-la-Neuve, or that every second 35 doses of vaccines are produced in Genval and distributed all over the world. But perhaps you may have heard that 95% of the slow-motion replays at the Beijing Olympics will be provided by a Walloon technology. We mention all of these examples simply to let you know that Wallonia is a region of success stories. Wallonia is also a region that is very open to the rest of the world, and one whose appeal is internationally recognised. Thus, an analysis conducted in March 2008 by the Economist Intelligence Unit ranked Belgium in 5th place worldwide for flows of direct foreign investment, and in 2nd place in Europe. It concluded that within Belgium, it is Wallonia that offers foreign investors “the greatest growth potential of the three regions”. The foreign investment statistics speak for themselves in this regard. And behind the numbers, recent months have been marked by some famous names: Baxter, Johnson & Johnson, Google and Microsoft. This popularity has not come about by chance. Wallonia enjoys an exceptional location, at the very heart of Europe and on the intersection between its three capitals: Brussels, Strasbourg and Luxembourg. 65% of the European market is within immediate reach, with 400 million consumers capable of being reached in a day. Against this background, Wallonia has plenty of space to offer – 13,500 hectares of new land currently being readied for business and research – at prices that defy competition (between 10 and 50 €/m²). All this territory is served by the densest road networks in the world, along with an expanding waterways system and two thriving regional airports in Liège and Charleroi (500,000 tonnes of freight and more than 2.5 million passengers) with exceptionally good accessibility. Wallonia is also a very favourable environment for business. In addition to the fiscal measures taken at Belgian level, the Walloon government has implemented an intelligent tax system by doing away with all regional, provincial and local taxes hindering economic growth. There have also been important measures to reduce inheritance and gift taxes. The strength of our region

also lies in its citizens, who are well-trained and deliver productivity above the European average. There is a strong emphasis on innovation, with 9 universities, 300 research centres and some 11,000 researchers. This research activity is closely linked with business, as witnessed in particular by our 5 competitiveness clusters which provide active networking in the domains where we can stand out as a European or even a world leader: life sciences, agro-industry, mechanical engineering, transport/logistics, and aeronautics and space technology.

In institutional terms, Wallonia is a federated entity with very extensive powers and autonomy, offering investors a remarkable degree of proximity to its political leaders, who are very acutely aware of the importance of creating sustainable businesses and business partners. On top of all this, the people of Wallonia are open and welcoming, living in a region full of history, tradition and fine cuisine where the preserved spaces are testament to a living spirit of real warmth. Come and (re)discover it for yourself!

Best of Belgium




Best of Belgium

Taking a closer look at the best of Belgian achievements Belgian achievements in 2007 and 2008 in a range of different areas — the economy, the arts, industry, fashion, hospitality, specialty foods, science and technology and more — provide examples of best practice from the heart of Europe. Belgium has a vibrant, stable and diversified economy with growth rates consistently above the European average, strong corporate investment and vigorous export performance despite the recent global economic slowdown. In 2007 the country posted GDP growth of 2.8% in comparison to the Euro zone average of 2.6%. Corporate investment increased by 5% and exports rose 3.8% annually to €236 billion. The leading export sector was chemicals while iron and steel exports, machinery, automobiles, diamonds and specialty foods, notably chocolate and beer, performed strongly. Unemployment dropped by 9.5% in 2007 as the economy created 74,000 new jobs, thanks largely to the country’s burgeoning small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Belgium’s top companies continued to set the standard in 2008. Europe’s premier brewer InBev announced that it and U.S. brewery giant AnheuserBusch have agreed to merge, which will form the world’s largest brewer by volume with the world’s leading beer brands such as Budweiser, Stella Artois and Beck’s. Chemicals, plastics and pharmaceuticals leader Solvay posted record company results for the fourth year running while Bekaert, a global leader in steel cord manufacture, expanded its steel investments in China. Belgium’s top construction company has nearly finished building the world’s tallest tower, the Burj Dubai, while Belgian dredging companies are involved in building whole islands in the Middle East. Belgium’s numerous niche companies are applying advanced technology in cooperation with local universities and research institutes. Companies like LMS International, ICOS Vision Systems and EVS have become absolute leaders in their fields. In biotech, the Flanders Institute of Biotechnology is powering ahead— especially in agro biotech, Belgian scientists and companies are world leaders. Brussels, Europe’s capital and the headquarters of all the main EU institutions as well the European base of hundreds of multinational companies, was rated the most productive metropolitan region in Europe with the 2nd highest GDP per capita (behind Luxembourg). This year Brussels also celebrated the 50th anniversary of

10

Best of Belgium

the city’s landmark 1958 World Fair which launched Belgium’s capital onto the world stage as a modern, highly successful city and the capital of Europe. The city celebrated in 2008 with yearlong events, exhibitions and festivities which recalled an era of optimism, scientific progress and peace. Antwerp, Europe’s second-largest port and a vital cog in Belgium’s highly integrated transportation infrastructure, grew by an impressive 10% in 2007, processing 182 million tonnes of freight from almost 17,000 cargo ships. The city is also the world’s diamond capital, handling more than 50% of the world’s rough and cut diamonds. The Antwerp diamond sector had an annual turnover of $39 billion in 2007 and diamond sales accounted for 8% of Belgian exports. In Liège, the economic and cultural centre of Wallonia, the new railway station designed by architect Santiago Calatrava, is nearing completion. This monumental piece of modern architecture is made of steel, glass and white concrete and is characterised by a huge flowing vault 200 meters long and 35 meters high. Politically the period 2007 to 2008 has been one of uncertainty at the federal level following the June 2007 elections while Belgium’s three regions — the Brussels Capital Region, Flanders and Wallonia — continue to prosper in an environment of regional stability and autonomy. Current prime-minister Yves Leterme’s government has the difficult task of negotiating constitutional reforms to devolve more powers to Belgium’s regions. In the Arts, acclaimed Belgian visual artist Jan De Cock showcased his work at New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in 2008 while Luc Tuymans continues his influence as one of the most significant painters working today. A number of Arts festivals in Flanders, Wallonie and Brussels showcased world-class performers in classical and contemporary music, dance and theatre. Belgium’s internationally sought-after dance companies such as Rosas, the Royal Ballet of Flanders and Charleroi / Danses impressed audiences with their quality, originality and creative genius. The International Film Festival Ghent, the Brussels-based Kunstenfestivaldesarts and off course the Queen Elizabeth Competition for Music were notable highlights of the Arts calendar. And

at the international theatre festival in Avignon, Belgian performers were the talk of the town. In Sport, Belgian tennis champion Justine Henin became the first reigning World No 1 to retire from professional tennis while holding the world’s top ranking. In football, Belgium has expressed interest in a joint bid to host the 2018 Fifa World Cup with the Netherlands. Welcome to Belgium!


Una mirada cercana a lo mejor de los éxitos belgas Los éxitos belgas durante 2007 y 2008 en distintos ámbitos – la economía, las artes, la industria, la moda, la hospitalidad, la gastronomía, la ciencia y la tecnología y otras – constituyen ejemplos de buenas prácticas desde el corazón de Europa. Bélgica se caracteriza por una economía vibrante, estable y diversificada con una tasa de crecimiento por encima de la media europea, fuertes inversiones empresariales y unos magníficos resultados de exportación a pesar de la reciente desaceleración económica global. En 2007 el PIB del país experimentó un crecimiento del 2,8% en comparación con la media de 2,6 % de la zona Euro. Las inversiones empresariales crecieron un 5% y las exportaciones aumentaron un 3,8% anual para llegar a 236 mil millones de euros. El sector químico lideró la exportación seguido por los sectores del acero, maquinaria, automóviles, diamantes, alimentación especializada, especialmente el chocolate y la cerveza. El desempleo bajó en 9,5% en 2007 y la economía creó 74.000 nuevos empleos, en buena parte gracias a las florecientes pequeñas y medianas empresas (“PYMES”). Las compañías líderes belgas continúan marcando los estándares en 2008. InBev, el primer fabricante europeo de cervezas ha anunciado su fusión con el gigante americano Anheuser-Busch para formar conjuntamente el mayor fabricante de cervezas a nivel mundial por volumen, con marcas mundialmente conocidos como Budweiser, Stella Artois y Beck’s. Solvay, la empresa líder en los sectores de la química, plásticos y farmacéutica ha conseguido unos resultados empresariales record por cuarto año consecutivo, mientras Bekaert, líder global en la manufacturación de cable de acero, expandió sus inversiones en acero en China. En el sector de la construcción, la empresa líder en la construcción en Bélgica está a punto de finalizar la torre más alta del mundo, el Buró Dubai, mientras compañías belgas de drenaje contribuyen al desarrollo de islas enteras en el Oriente Medio. Numerosas empresas belgas especializadas en nichos de mercado están aplicando tecnología avanzada en cooperación con universidades locales e instituciones de investigación. Empresas como LMS Internacional, ICOS Vision Systems y EVS se han convertido en líderes absolutos en sus campos. En el sector de la biotecnología, el “Flanders Institute of Biotechnology (VIB)” está liderando, especialmente en agro-biotecnología, y científicos y compañías belgas están considerados líderes mundiales. Bruselas, capital de Europa y sede de

las principales instituciones de la UE así como base europea de centenas de compañías multinacionales, encabeza el ranking como la región metropolitana más productiva de Europa y ocupa el segundo puesto por PIB per capita (detrás de Luxemburgo). En 2008, Bruselas también celebra el 50 aniversario de la Exposición Mundial de 1958 que lanzó la capital de Bélgica al escenario mundial como una ciudad moderna, exitosa y capital de Europa. La ciudad celebra esta conmemoración durante todo el año con eventos, exhibiciones y festividades para revivir una era de optimismo, progreso científico y paz. Amberes, el segundo puerto europeo y eje vital en la altamente integrada infraestructura de transportes belga, experimentó en 2007 un crecimiento impresionante del 10%, procesando 182 millones de toneladas de flete de unos 17.000 buques de carga. La ciudad es también la capital mundial de diamantes, donde se negocian más del 50% de los diamantes rudos y tallados a nivel mundial. El sector de diamantes en Amberes obtuvo en 2007 unos resultados anuales de 139 mil millones de USD y la venta de diamantes representaron un 8% de las exportaciones belgas. En Lieja, centro económico y cultural de Valonia, se está finalizando la nueva estación de ferrocarriles diseñado por el arquitecto Santiago Calatrava. Esta pieza monumental de la arquitectura moderna está hecha de acero, vidrio y hormigón blanco y se caracteriza por una enorme bóveda flotante de 200 metros de largo y 35 metros de alto. En el terreno político, el periodo 2007-2008 ha sido de incertidumbre a nivel federal a consecuencia de las elecciones de Junio 2007 mientras que las tres regiones, la región de Bruselas Capital, Flandes y Valonia, continúan prosperando en un entorno de estabilidad regional y de autonomía. El gobierno del primer ministro actual Yves Leterme tiene la ardua labor de negociar la reforma constitucional para dotar de más poderes a las regiones belgas. En las Artes, el aclamado artista visual belga Jan De Cock ha expuesto en 2008 su obra en el “Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)” en Nueva York, mientras Luc Tuymans continúa su influencia como uno de los más significativos pintores actuales. Festivales de Arte en Flandes, Valonia y Bruselas han

exhibido artistas de nivel mundial en música clásica y contemporánea, danza y teatro. Compañías belgas internacionalmente reconocidas como “Rosas”, el “Koninklijk Ballet van Vlaanderen” y “Charleroi Danses” han impresionado la audiencia por su calidad, originalidad y espíritu creativo. En el calendario de Artes, han destacado el festival internacional “Filmfestival Gent”, el “Kunstenfestivaldesarts” de Bruselas y naturalmente el concurso de música “Queen Elizabeth Competition”. Asimismo, en el festival de teatro internacional “Festival d’Avignon”, artistas belgas han sido la comidilla de la ciudad. En Deportes, la campeona belga de tenis profesional Justin Henin ha sido la primera tenista retirándose del tenis profesional mientras ostentaba el número 1 del ranking mundial. En fútbol, Bélgica ha expresado su interés en una oferta conjunta con los Países Bajos para alojar la 2018 Fifa World Cup. ¡Bienvenidos a Bélgica!

Best of Belgium

11


‫‪Best of Belgium‬‬

‫ةيكيجلبلا تازجنملا لضفأ ىلإ برق نع ةرظن‬ ‫‪:‬تالاجملا فلتخم يفو ‪ 2008‬و ‪ 2007‬يماع لالخ ةيكيجلبلا تازجنملا تلكش‬ ‫ةيقدنفلا تامدخلاو ‪،‬ةضوملاو ‪،‬ةعانصلاو ‪،‬ةليمجلا نونفلاو ‪،‬داصتقالا‬ ‫تالاجملاو ايجولونكتلاو مولعلاو ‪،‬ةصصختملا تالوكأملا فانصأو ‪،‬ةفايضلاو‬ ‫‪.‬ابوروأ بلق يف ةغبانلا ةعدبملا ةسرامملا ىلع ةديدع ةلثمأ ‪،‬ىرخألا‬ ‫يذلا تقولا يف ‪ 2007،‬هينوي ‪ /‬ناريزح‬ ‫‪:‬ثالثلا ةيكيجلبلا قطانملا هيف تناك‬ ‫نيتقطنملاو ‪،‬ةمصاعلا لسكورب ةقطنم‬ ‫اهراهدزا لصاوت ةينولاولاو ةيكنملفلا‬ ‫يتاذلا مكحلاو رارقتسالا نم ةئيب يف‬ ‫ةسائرب ةيلاحلا ةموكحلا ىدلو ‪.‬يميلقإلا‬ ‫يف نمكت ةبعص ةمهم مريتول فيإ ديسلا‬ ‫ةيروتسدلا تاحالصإلا ىلع ضوافتلا‬ ‫نم اديزم ةيكيجلبلا قطانملا حنمتس يتلا‬ ‫‪.‬تايحالصلا‬ ‫ضرع مت دقف ‪،‬نونفلاب قلعتي اميف امأ‬ ‫ةيويحلاب معفملا يكيجلبلا نانفلا لامعأ‬ ‫نونفلل كرويوين ضرعم يف كوك يد ناي‬ ‫لصاوي نيح يف ‪ 2008،‬ماع )اموم( ةثيدحلا‬ ‫هرابتعاب ةينفلا هلامعأ سناميوت كول‬ ‫ةيحان نمو ‪.‬نيرصاعملا نيماسرلا رهشأ دحأ‬ ‫ةديدعلا ةينفلا تاناجرهملا تزربأ ‪،‬ىرخأ‬ ‫ةيكنملفلا نيتقطنملا يف تميقأ يتلا‬ ‫ةمصاعلا لسكورب ةقطنمو ةينولاولاو‬ ‫ىوتسملا عيفرلا يكيجلبلا ءادألا‬ ‫ةيكيسالكلا ىقيسوملا تالاجم يف‬ ‫‪.‬ةيحرسملا لامعألاو صقرلاو ةرصاعملاو‬ ‫ةيكيجلبلا صقرلا تاعومجم تزاح دقو‬ ‫هيلابلا قرفو سازور لثم ايملاع ةروهشملا‬ ‫ةنيدمو ةيكنملفلا ةقطنملا يف ةيكلملا‬ ‫ةيعونل روهمجلا باجعإ ىلع اورلراش‬ ‫ةقالخلا ةيرقبعلاو هتلاصأو صقرلا‬ ‫كلذ ىلإ فاضيو ‪.‬اهب نوعتمتي يتلا‬ ‫‪،‬ةيئامنيسلا مالفألل يلودلا تنج ناجرهم‬ ‫ماقت يتلا ىرخألا ةينفلا تاناجرهملاو‬ ‫ةقباسم كلذكو ‪،‬لسكورب ةنيدم يف‬ ‫اهلمش يتلا ةيقيسوملا تيبازيلإ ةكلملا‬ ‫يفو ‪.‬نونفلل يكيجلبلا جمانربلا‬ ‫نوينيفأ ةنيدم يف يلودلا حرسملا ناجرهم‬ ‫نينانفلا نع ثيدحلا ناك )اسنرف(‬ ‫‪.‬اعيمج سانلا ةنسلأ ىلع نييكيجلبلا‬ ‫سنتلا ةبعال تحبصأ ‪،‬ةضايرلا لاجم يفو‬ ‫ىلوألا ةبعاللا نانيه نيتسوج ةيكيجلبلا‬ ‫بعللا ةريخألا هذه تلزتعا دقو ‪،‬ملاعلا يف‬ ‫‪.‬نييملاعلا نيبعاللا ةمئاق ردصتت يهو‬ ‫تربع دقف ‪،‬مدقلا ةركب قلعتي اميف امأ‬ ‫ادنلوه عم كارتشالاب اهتبغر نع اكيجلب‬ ‫‪ 2018‬ماعل ملاعلا سأك ةلوطب ةفاضتساب‬ ‫مدقلا ةركل يملاعلا داحتالا اهمظني يتلا‬ ‫‪".‬افيف"‬ ‫‪...‬اكيجلب يف مكب الهسو الهأو‬

‫نيجف سوكيإو ‪،‬لانويشانرتنا سأ مأ لأ‬ ‫تحبصأ يتلا ‪،‬سا يف ياو ‪،‬متسيس‬ ‫دهعملا لمعي امك ‪.‬لاجملا اذه يف ةدئار تاكرش‬ ‫رارمتساب ةيويحلا تاينقتلل يكنملفلا‬ ‫تالامعتسالل ةيويح تاينقت ريوطت ىلع‬ ‫ءاملعلا حبصأ ثيح صاخ لكشب ةيعارزلا‬ ‫اذه يف ةلماعلا تاكرشلاو نويكيجلبلا‬ ‫‪.‬ملاعلا يف ةدئار ةناكمب نوعتمتي لاجملا‬ ‫ةيبوروألا ةمصاعلا ‪،‬لسكورب ربتعتو‬ ‫ةيسيئرلا ةيبوروألا تاسسؤملا رقمو‬ ‫‪،‬تايسنجلا ةددعتملا تاكرشلا نم تائمو‬ ‫ةمصاعلاو ةيجاتنإ ةيبوروألا مصاوعلا رثكأ‬ ‫جتانلا نم درفلا بيصن ثيح نم ةيناثلا‬ ‫‪).‬جروبمسكوللا دعب( يلامجإلا يلحملا‬ ‫ىركذب ماعلا اذه لسكورب ةنيدم تلفتحاو‬ ‫ملاعم رهشأ دحأ ءاشنإ ىلع اماع ‪ 50‬رورم‬ ‫ميقأ يذلا يلودلا ضرعملا رقم وهو ةنيدملا‬ ‫ةيكيجلبلا ةمصاعلل حاتأو ‪ 1958،‬ةنس‬ ‫ةرهدزم ةثيدح ةنيدمك ةيلود ةناكم باستكا‬ ‫لاوط ةنيدملا تلفتحا امك ‪.‬ابوروأل ةمصاعو‬ ‫ةديدع ضراعمو تالافتحاو ثادحأب ‪ 2008‬ماع‬ ‫نم اديدج ارصع شيعت ةنيدم اهنم تلعج‬ ‫‪.‬مالسلاو يملعلا مدقتلاو لؤافتلا‬ ‫ربتعي يذلا بريوتنأ ءانيم لجسو‬ ‫ثدحأب دوزمو ابوروأ يف ءانيم ربكأ يناث‬ ‫غيرفتو ليمحتل ةيساسألا تاينبلا‬ ‫ثيح ‪ 2007‬ماع ةظوحلم ومن ةبسن عئاضبلا‬ ‫عئاضبلا نم نط نويلم ‪ 182‬هردق ام جلاع‬ ‫ةنيفس فلأ ‪ 17‬نمو ىلإ ةغرفملاو ةنوحشملا‬ ‫ايملاع بريوتنأ ةنيدم فرعتو ‪.‬نحش‬ ‫هتبسن ام جلاعت يتلا ساملألا ةمصاعب‬ ‫ثيح ‪،‬لوقصملاو ماخلا ملاعلا سام نم ‪50%‬‬ ‫ماع عاطقلا اذهل يونسلا لامعألا مقر غلب‬ ‫تلكشو ‪.‬رالود رايلم ‪ 39‬هردق ام ‪2007‬‬ ‫هتبسن ام ساملألا نم ةيكيجلبلا تارداصلا‬ ‫‪.‬ةيلامجإلا تارداصلا نم ‪8%‬‬ ‫يداصتقالا زكرملا جييل ةنيدم ربتعتو‬ ‫دقف ‪.‬ةينولاولا ةقطنملل يفاقثلاو‬ ‫ةنيدملا هذهل ةديدجلا راطقلا ةطحم تحبصأ‬ ‫وغايتناس يرامعملا سدنهملا اهممص يتلاو‬ ‫‪.‬اهئانب نم ءاهتنالا كشو ىلع افارتالاك‬ ‫يرامعملا هنف ةثادحب زيمتملا بصنلا اذهف‬ ‫ضيبألا تنمسالاو جاجزلاو نداعملا نم نوكم‬ ‫م ‪ 200‬اهلوط ادج ةريبك ةرطنقم ةبقب دوزمو‬ ‫‪.‬م ‪ 35‬اهعافتراو‬ ‫و ‪ 2007‬يماع دهش ‪،‬ةيسايسلا ةيحانلا نمو‬ ‫ىلع نيقيلا مدعو ةريحلا نم ةرتف ‪2008‬‬ ‫تاباختنا دعب ةصاخو يلارديفلا ديعصلا‬

‫ضبان داصتقاب اكيجلب عتمتتو‬ ‫ومن تالدعمب زيمتي عونتمو رقتسم‬ ‫ةئيببو ‪،‬ةيبوروألا تالدعملا امئاد قوفت‬ ‫طشن يريدصت ءادأو ةبلص ةيرامثتسا‬ ‫يملاعلا داصتقالا عجارت نم مغرلاب‬ ‫غلب ‪ 2007‬ماع يفف ‪.‬ةريخألا ةنوآلا يف‬ ‫‪ 2.8%‬يلامجإلا يلحملا جتانلا ومن لدعم‬ ‫”ورويلا“ ةقطنمل ماعلا لدعملا عم ةنراقملاب‬ ‫ةبسن تدازو ‪ 2.6%.‬ىلإ طقف لصي يذلا‬ ‫يف ‪ 5%‬لدعمب ةكرتشملا تارامثتسالا‬ ‫‪ 3.8%‬ةبسنب تارداصلا تعفترا نيح‬ ‫‪.‬وروي رايلم ‪ 236‬ىلإ اهتميق لصتل‬ ‫ةمدقم يف ةيئايميكلا داوملا يتأتو‬ ‫تاجتنم اهيلت ةيكيجلبلا تارداصلا‬ ‫لقنلا لئاسوو تانكاملاو بلصلاو ديدحلا‬ ‫يفو ةصصختملا ةيئاذغلا داوملاو ساملاو‬ ‫تداز يتلاو ةريبلاو هتالوكوشلا اهتمدقم‬ ‫‪.‬ةظوحلم بسنب اهتارداص‬ ‫‪ 9.5%‬ىلإ اهتبسن تطبه دقف ‪،‬ةلاطبلا امأ‬ ‫يكيجلبلا داصتقالا حاتأ نأ دعب ‪ 2007‬ماع‬ ‫لضفب كلذو ةديدج ةفيظو فلأ ‪ 74‬داجيإ‬ ‫ةطسوتملاو ةريغصلا دلبلا تاسسؤم راهدزا‬ ‫‪.‬مجحلا‬ ‫ةيكيجلبلا تاكرشلا ىربك تلصاوو‬ ‫ثيح ةيسايق اماقرأ قيقحت ‪ 2008‬ماع‬ ‫ربتعت يتلا فيبنأ ةكرش تنلعأ‬ ‫اهنأ ابوروأ يف ةريبلل لوألا عناصلا‬ ‫ةيكيرمألا ةكرشلاب جامدنالا ىلع تقفاو‬ ‫رسواهنأ ةريبلا ةعانص يف ةقالمعلا‬‫ةكرش ربكأ اعم نالكشتس ثيحب شوب‬ ‫لثم ملاعلا يف ةيراجتلا تامالعلل ةلماح‬ ‫تققحو ‪.‬سكبو ‪،‬اوترأ اليتسو ‪،‬رزيودوب‬ ‫داوملا عاطق يف ةلماعلا يافلوس ةكرش‬ ‫ةينالديصلاو ةيكيتسالبلاو ةيئايميكلا‬ ‫ةنسلل ةيلاملا اهجئاتن يف ايسايق امقر‬ ‫تررق نيح يف ‪،‬يلاوتلا ىلع ةعبارلا‬ ‫يف ملاعلا يف ةدئارلا تراكيب ةكرش‬ ‫اهتارامثتسا ةدايز ةيندعملا كالسألا ةعانص‬ ‫ىربك تكشوأ امك ‪.‬نيصلا يف ةيندعملا‬ ‫عاطق يف ةلماعلا ةيكيجلبلا تاكرشلا‬ ‫جرب لوطأ "يبد جرب" زاجنإ ىلع ءانبلا‬ ‫مهاست يذلا تقولا يف كلذو ‪،‬ملاعلا يف‬ ‫ةصصختملا ةيكيجلبلا تاكرشلا هيف‬ ‫ةلماك رزج ءانبب ةيرحبلا لامعألا يف‬ ‫ةراشإلا ردجتو ‪.‬طسوألا قرشلا ةقطنم يف‬ ‫ةيكيجلبلا تاكرشلا نم ةعومجم ىلإ اضيأ‬ ‫قيبطتو ريوطت ىلع لمعت يتلا‬ ‫تاعماجلا عم نواعتلاب ةمدقتم تاينقت‬ ‫تاكرش اهنم ركذنو ‪،‬ةيلحملا ثوحبلا دهاعمو‬

‫‪Best of Belgium‬‬

‫‪12‬‬


近观硕果累累的比利时 有着"欧洲心脏"之称的比利时在2007和2008两年间,在经济, 艺术,工业,服饰,医疗,特色美食,科技等不同领域中都取 得了卓越的成就,起到了名副其实的榜样作用。 稳定,多样及充满活力的比利时经济

Institute of Biotechnology) 独树一帜,

月联邦选举以来,比利时三大区,即

虽然也同样面临着近期全球经济放缓

特别是农业生物科技,比利时的科学

布鲁塞尔首都地区,法兰德斯地区

的困扰,但强劲的企业投资和良好的

家和相关公司都处于世界领先行列。

与瓦隆地区均要求更宽松的地区性

出口额使其经济增长率仍始终处在欧

自治与稳定的环境。现任首相Yves

洲平均水平之上。2007年比利时国

作为欧洲之都的布鲁塞尔,所有欧盟主

LETERME当前面临的首要而艰巨

内生产总值增长2.8%, 超越了整个欧

要机构的总部及众多跨国企业都扎根于

的任务则是通过商议来寻求国家改

元区2.6%的平均值。企业投资增长

此。因此,这座城市也可谓是欧洲最富

革,以便提升比利时各地区力量。

5%,出口额年增长3.8%,达到了两

饶的国际大都市之一,人均国内生产

艺术方面,2008年,深受欢迎的比利

千三百六十亿欧元。其中化工业是所

总值在整个欧洲地区排名第二位,仅

时视觉艺术大师Jan DE COCK在纽约现

有出口行业部门中的佼佼者,除此之

次于卢森堡。今年,布鲁塞尔庆祝了

代艺术博物馆 (New York's Museum of

外,钢铁,机械,汽车,钻石以及比

有着城市地标象征的1958年世界博览

Modern Art) 展示了他的作品。杰出画

利时特色食品,尤其是巧克力和啤酒

会,这一历史事件,将一个现代,高

家Luc TUYMANS也继续着他对当今画

在整个出口业中也发挥了举足轻重的

度成功且拥有欧洲首都的比利时推向

坛的影响力。无数场艺术盛会在法兰

作用。不仅如此,大量新兴中小型企

了世界的舞台。与此同时,这座富有

德斯区,瓦隆区和布鲁塞尔举行,世

业的纷纷涌现,也为社会创造出了七

生机的城市在2008年里也将用一系列

界顶尖艺术家们齐聚比利时,为当地

万四千个工作岗位,从而使2007年

的庆典及展会活动来回顾一个乐观向

民众献上了古典及当代歌舞与戏剧。

的失业率下降了9.5个百分点。 

上,科技迅猛发展与和平的时代。 

具有国际影响力的比利时舞蹈团,如

安特卫普,欧洲第二大港口,在比

Rosas,the Royal Ballet of Flanders and

比利时那些享有声望的公司在2008年

利时高度密集的基础交通设施中扮

Charleroi,用他们那高超精湛且极富创

中也都争相为各自制定着新的标准。

演着不可或缺的重要角色,2007年

造力的演出征服着无数观众。除此以

欧洲首屈一指的啤酒公司InBev宣布

年吞吐量惊人地增长10%,从至少

外,The International Film Festival, the

与美国制酒大亨Anheuser-Busch已达

一万七千艘货轮上共卸下约一亿八

Brussels-based Kunstenfestivaldesarts以

成合并的共识,这将形成世界上最大

千二百万屯货物。不仅如此,这座

及the Queen Elizabeth Competition

的啤酒量与世界领先的啤酒品牌,如

城市还被誉为世界钻石之都,全球

for Music也都为比利时文化艺术

Budweiser, Stella Artois以及Beck's。又

50%的钻石都在这里被打磨切割。

在添墨增彩。而在Avignon举办的

如在化学,塑料,制药领域中的领头

安特卫普的钻石业在2007年中,

国际戏剧节中,比利时演员们则

羊Solvay公司,在第四年的运作中便创

年营业额达三百九十亿美元,钻石

成了该镇居民谈论的焦点。 

下了该领域的纪录。与此同时,全球

销售额占比利时出口额的8%。

知名的钢丝制造公司Bekaert将自己的

体育方面,具有世界最高排名的比

业务拓展到了中国。比利时顶尖的建

烈日,瓦隆区经济及文化的中心。

利时网坛名将Justine HENIN成为了

造公司也即将完成目前世界最高摩天

由建筑师Santiago CALATRAVA设

首个以世界第一身份而宣布退役的

大楼Burj Dubai的建造工作。比利时疏

计的新火车站即将竣工验收。这座

职业运动员。在足球运动方面,比

浚公司参与了中东群岛建设任务。比

雄伟的现代建筑主要由钢材,玻

利时和荷兰则有意共同举办2018年

利时的许多利基公司运用先进的科技

璃以及白色混凝土组成,其吸引

世界杯足球赛 (FIFA World Cup)。

与当地的大学和研究机构合作研发。

眼球之处则在于那座长200米,高

此外,LMS International, ICOS Vision

35米的巨大可移动式拱顶。  

比利时欢迎您 !

Systems 和EVS公司也都在其各自领域 成为了绝对的领先者。在生物科技界,

政治方面,2007至2008是比利时政

佛兰德斯生物科技研究院 (Flanders

治局势不稳定的两年。自2007年七

Best of Belgium

13


Best of Belgium

Лучшие достижения Бельгии – знакомьтесь! Расположенная в сердце Европы Бельгия подает прекрасный пример успехов, достигнутых в 2007-2008 годах в таких областях, как экономика, искусство, промышленность, мода, туризм, особая пищевая продукция, наука и технология и в других. Несмотря на недавнее глобальное экономическое замедление, экономика в Бельгии оставалась оживленной, устойчивой и разнообразной c показателем роста выше среднеевропейского. Осуществлялись солидные корпоративные инвестиции, были достигнуты высокие показатели в экспорте. В 2007 году в стране зарегистрирован показатель роста национального валового продукта в 2,8%, в то время, как средний показатель в зоне Евро достиг 2,6%. Корпоративные инвестиции выросли на 5% и ежегодный показатель роста экспорта – 3,8%, что достигло 236 миллиардов Евро. Лидирующим сектором в экспорте была химическая промышленность, в то время как экспорт в области черной металлургии и стали, механического оборудования, автомобилестроения, алмазов и особой пищевой продукции, а именно, шоколада и пива, оставался на высоком уровне. В стране в 2007 году снизился уровень безработицы на 9,5%, благодаря созданию 74000 новых рабочих мест в набирающих силу малых и средних предприятиях (МСП), расположенных по всей стране.

компании, как LMS International, ICOS Vision Systems и EVS являются абсолютными лидерами в своих областях. В биотехнологии Flanders Institut of Biotechnology является двигателем в своей области, особенно, в агробиотехнологии. Бельгийские ученые и научные институты вписываются в ранг мировых лидеров.

Бельгийские ведущие компании продолжали нести передовое знамя в 2008 году. Первый в Европе пивоваренный завод InBev объявил о слиянии с американским гигантом пововарения Anheuser-Busch, что приведет к созданию крупейшего в мире пивоваренного завода по объему производства всемирно лидирующих сортов пива, как Budweiser, Stella Artois и Beck’s. Solvay, передовая компания в области химических, пластических материалов и фармакологии, в течение последних четырех лет достигала наилучших результатов. Bekaert, лидер в производстве металлокордов, расширил свои металлоинвестиции в Китае. Крупнейшая бельгийская строительная компания заканчивает строительство самой высокой в мире башни Burj Dubai. Бельгийские компании по драгированию сотрудничали в строительстве целых островов на Ближнем Востоке. Многочисленные бельгийские специализированные предприятия применяют новейшую технологию, работая совместно с местными университетами и исследовательскими центрами. Такие

Антверпен - второй по величине порт Европы, и жизненноважный стержень в высокоинтегрированной бельгийской транспортной инфраструктуре - продемонстрировал впечатляющий рост в 10% в 2007 году. Через порт было отгружено 182 миллиона тонн груза c 17000 грузовых суден. Этот город является также мировой столицей алмазов, через который проходит более 50% мирового оборота необработанных и отшлифованных алмазов. Алмазная промышленность в Антверпене достигла в 2007 году товарооборота в 39 миллиардов долларов и торговля алмазами составляет 8% от бельгийского экспорта.

14

Best of Belgium

Брюссель, европейская столица и центр всех главных учреждений ЕС, а также европейская база для сотен мультинациональных компаний, вошёл в категорию наиболее продуктивных столичных регионов в Европе. Он занимает второе место по производству НВП на душу населения (после Люксембурга). В этом году Брюссель отмечает 50летие Всемирной выставки 1958 года, которая выдвинула бельгийскую столицу на мировую арену, как современный, преуспевающий город и как столицу Европы. В течение всего 2008-го года это событие отмечается мероприятиями, выставками, фестивалями, которые проходят под лозунгом оптимизма, научного прогресса и мира.

В Льеже – экономическом и культурном центре Валонии – практически закончено строительство нового железнодорожного вокзала, созданного по проекту архитектора Сантьяго Калатрава. Это монументальное сооружение современной архитектуры, созданное из металла, стекла и белого бетона, имеет округленный свод длиной в 200 метров и восотой в 35 метров.

В плане политики на федеральном уровне период 2007-2008 годов был неопределенным, вследствие июньских выборов 2007 года, в то время как три бельгийских региона – Брюссельский столичный регион, Фландрия и Валония, имея каждый свой автономный статус, продолжали стабильно развиваться. Перед действующим правительством во главе с премьер-министром Ивом Летермом стоит трудная задача по проведению переговоров по конституционной реформе, в целях передачи более расширенных полномочий бельгийским регионам. В области искусства известный бельгийский визуальный артист Жан Де Кок в 2008 году представил свое произведение в ньюйоркском Музее современного искусства (МоМА). Имя Люка Тюиманса продолжает оставаться в ряду самых значительных художников сегодняшнего дня. Многочисленные фестивали искусств, проходящие во Фландрии, Валонии и Брюсселе, представляют мирового класса исполнителей классической и современной музыки, балета и театра. Всемирно известные бельгийские балетные труппы, как Rosas, Royal Ballet of Flanders и Charleroi/Danses покаряют зрителей своим высоким мастерством, оригинальностью и гениальной творческой композицией. На первых страницах артистических календарей стоят Международный кинофестиваль в Генте, Фестиваль искусств в Брюсселе и, конечно, Международный музыкальный конкурс королевы Елизаветы. Бельгийские актеры заставили говорить о себе на международном театральном фестивале в Авиньоне. В спорте бельгийская чемпионка по теннису Жюстин Энен, которая покинула профессиональный теннис, царила в мире под № 1. В футболе Бельгия проявила интерес присоединиться к предложению принять вместе с Нидерландами в 2018 году Всемирный чемпионат на кубок Фифа. Добро пожаловать в Бельгию!


ベルギーの代表的な功績についての詳細 ベルギーの2007年と2008年の各方面における成果 — 経済、芸術、 産業、ファッション、ホスピタリティ、高級食品、科学とテクノロジーなど — ヨーロッパの中心から成功事例をご紹介いたします。

ベルギーは、近年の世界的な景気後 退にもかかわらず、経済成長率は常 にヨーロッパの平均以上、強力な企 業投資と輸出実績による活気ある、 安定した経済を誇ります。 2007年度のGDP成長率はユー ロ圏の平均が2.6%であったのに 対して2.8%でした。企業投資は 5%の成長で輸出金額も年3.8% 成長し、2360億ユーロに達して います。主な輸出産業は化学薬品で すが、鉄鋼、機械、自動車、ダイヤ モンド、食品、特にチョコレートや ビールが際立っています。国内の中 小企業の急成長のおかげで、新規雇 用が7万4千件あり、2007年度 の失業率は9.5%に減少しまし た。 ベルギーのトップ企業は2008年 も高水準を記録しています。ヨーロ ッパの大手ビール会社インベブは、 同社がアメリカの大手アンハイザー ・ブッシュ買収に合意したと発表 し、バドワイザー、ステラ・アルト ワ、ベックスなど世界的なブランド を有する世界最大手のビール会社に なります。 化学薬品、プラスティック、製薬の 大手ソルベイは4年連続で黒字を記 録し、世界最大のスチールワイヤー メーカーであるベカルトは、中国で 鋼鉄の投資事業を拡大しました。 ベルギーの大手建設会社は、世界一 の超高層ブルジュ・ドバイの建設を ほぼ完了し、ベルギーの浚渫企業は 中東の島々の建設に関わっていま す。 数多くあるニッチ企業は、地元の大 学や研究所と協力して先端技術を応 用しています。LMSインターナシ ョナル、ICOSビジョンシステム ズ、EVSはそれぞれの分野におけ

る絶対的なリーダーとなりました。 バイオテクノロジーでは、フランダ ースバイオテクノロジー機関が特に 農業生物学で一歩先を進んでいます し、ベルギーの科学者および企業は 世界の先端をいっています。 主なEU機関や多国籍企業がヨーロ ッパ拠点を置くブリュッセルは、ヨ ーロッパの首都であり、ルクセンブ ルグに次ぐ欧州第2位の一人当たり GDPを誇る生産性の高い都市で す。今年は、ブリュッセルがモダン で成功しているヨーロッパの首都で あることを世界に知らしめた195 8年ブリュッセル万博の50周年を 祝いました。2008年は、楽観主 義、科学の成長、平和を回想する展 示会や祭りが年間を通して開催され ました。 アントワープはヨーロッパ第2位の 港とベルギーの高度に統合されたイ ンフラの重要な歯車の歯で、200 7年には10%の目覚しい成長を達 成し、1万7千隻の貨物船から18 2百万トンの貨物を取り扱っていま す。また、同市は世界におけるダイ ヤモンド産業都市でもあり、世界の ラフおよびカットダイヤの50%以 上を扱っています。アントワープの ダイヤモンド産業は2007年39 0億ドルの年間取引高があり、ダイ ヤモンドの売上高はベルギーの輸出 総額の8%にもなります。 リエージュはワロンの経済と文化の 中心で、建築家サンチャゴ・カラト ラバがデザインした新しい鉄道の駅 が間もなく完成します。この鉄とガ ラスと白いコンクリートでできたモ ダンな大建築は、長さ200メート ル、高さ35メートルの巨大な浮か ぶアーチ型天井が特徴です。 政治では2007年6月の選挙後、 2007年から2008年は政治的 に連邦レベルで不安定な時期でし

た。ベルギーの3つの地域―ブリュ ッセル首都圏地域、フランダース、 ワロン―は、それぞれが地域的安定 と自治的環境のもと繁栄していま す。現首相イヴ・ルテルム政権はベ ルギーの各地域へより強力な権限を 与える制度の改革という難題に直面 しています。 芸術では、高く評価されているベル ギーの視覚芸術家、ヤン・デ・コッ クが2008年ニューヨーク近代美 術館(MoMA)で作品を披露しま した。リュック・タイマンスは現代 絵画の最も優れた画家の1人として 影響を与え続けています。フラン ダース、ワロン、ブリュッセルの芸 術祭では、クラシックと現代音楽、 ダンスや演劇で世界的なパフォーマ ーが活躍しました。ローザス、フラ ンダース王立バレエ団等、ベルギー の世界的に人気のあるダンス・カン パニー、シャルルロワ・ダンスなど は、ダンスの質と独自性、創造的な 才能で観客を魅了しました。ゲント 国際映画祭、ブリュッセルのクンス テン・フェスティバル・デサール、 エリザベート王妃国際音楽祭は、芸 術祭のハイライトです。アヴィニヨ ンの国際芸術映画祭ではベルギーの 役者が注目を集めました。 スポーツでは、ベルギーのテニスチ ャンピオン、世界ランク第1位のジ ャスティン・エナンがプロ引退を表 明しました。また、サッカーにおい て、ベルギーは2018年FIFAワー ルドカップのオランダとの共催に立 候補しました。 ようこそベルギーへ!

Best of Belgium

15


Š Kies van de brussel fotos

Best of Belgium

Fast Facts Belgium

Capital city Brussels Area 30,528 sq km Government Federal constitutional monarchy and bicameral parliamentary democracy

Š Kies van de brussel fotos

Population 10,5 million

16

Time Zone CET (Central European Time) Current GDP growth 1,9% (est. 01/2008)

Best of Belgium


© Kies van de brussel fotos

Exchange Rate One US$ = € 1.58 (July 17th 2008) Country Dialing Code +32 Internet domain .be

Inflation 3,64% (est. 02/2008) Official languages Dutch (approx. 60% of the population) French (approx. 40% of the population) German (<1% of the population) Religion Traditionally the vast majority of the Belgian population is Roman Catholic but less than 8% practice. Close to 30% of the population consider themselves agnostic. Islam is an important religion (approx. 4%). Also there are small minorities of Protestants and Jews. Currency EURO €

Geography Belgium has three main geographical regions: the coastal plain in the north-west (polders at or below sea level), the central plateau (fertile smooth valleys), and the Ardennes uplands (forested plateau) in the south-east. Belgium shares borders with France, Germany, Luxembourg, and Netherlands.

Diners Club enjoying less universal acceptance than MasterCard and Visa. Smaller retailers, restaurants and bars typically accept cash only. Telecommunications Belgium has a highly developed, technologically advanced communications infrastructure. The main fixed-line operators have made rapid progress building their ‘Next Generation’ networks (i.e. high-bandwidth IP network for voice, data, video, TV). There are three mobile phone service providers with national coverage. Broadband internet penetration is close to 20% of households.

Climate The climate is maritime temperate, with significant precipitation in all seasons Banks and foreign exchange Belgium’s financial institutions are worldclass, with no shortage of banks, bureaux de change and automatic tellers.

International Institutions and Embassies Brussels is home to the European Commission, NATO and a range of other international organizations. As such, Brussels is a major diplomatic center, with most major countries not only being represented by embassies but also by diplomatic missions to the EU.

Credit cards and cash All major credit cards can be used in Belgium, with American Express and

Medical facilities Belgium is recognized for its world-class medical expertise and facilities.

Best of Belgium

17


ChapterS

Best of Belgium B E S T

O F

BELGIUM Chapter 1

20-35

Arts

Chapter 2

36-57

Diamonds

Chapter 3

58-79

Speciality Foods

Chapter 4

80-109

Dining and Hospitality

18

Best of Belgium


Chapter 9

146-213

Chapter 8 138-145

Chapter 7 132-137

Chapter 6

120-131

Chapter 5

110-119

Sport

Fashion

Education

Healthcare

Economy and Industry

Best of Belgium

19


A painting in a museum hears more ridiculous opinions than anything else in the world.

Š Christophe Ketels / Compagnie Gagarine

Edmond de Goncourt (1822 - 1896)


Chapter 1 Arts


Arts

Art News

Denkmal 11, Museum of Modern Art, 11 West 53 Street, New York, 2008. Module CDLV

In his first solo exhibition in the United States, contemporary Belgian visual artist Jan De Cock (b. 1976) showcased his work at New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) from January to April 2008. The exhibition, Denkmal 11, Museum of Modern Art, 11 West 53 Street, New York, 2008, consisted of a floor-to-ceiling photographic and plywood sculptural installation in response to the MoMA’s collection itself as well as images taken from the history of art, architecture and film. Denkmal translates as both “monument” in German and as a “mold of thinking” in Flemish. Through the mediums of photography and sculptural installation and in his signature encyclopaedic style, De Cock provides provocative ideas about the history and nature of modern art, architecture and what constitutes landmark monuments. This exhibition echoed De Cock’s work at London’s Tate Modern, where he created a series of installations and sculptures out of plywood which mimicked functional gallery furniture and prompted viewers to look at the building and its history in a new way. De Cock’s myriad photographs in this exhibition of famous modern images by artists such as Brancusi, Newman, Hopper and Judd are juxtaposed with film and architecture shots as well as his plywood installations. The use of repetitive framing devices, extreme close-ups and miniatures all work to stretch the viewer’s imagination and perspective on how they view art. Photos © Atelier Jan De Cock Courtesy Galerie Fons Welters and Galerie Luis Campaña

22

Best of Belgium

Denkmal 11, Museum of Modern Art, 11 West 53 Street, New York, 2008. Module CCCXX, Module CCCXXI [Diptych 23]


phenomenon of Disney. Subjects of previous exhibitions have ranged from major historical events such as the Holocaust or the politics of the Belgian Congo to the inconsequential and the banal, such as wallpaper patterns, Christmas decorations and everyday objects. In “Forever”, Tuymans suggests, by means of eight new paintings and eight drawings, a grim reality behind the Disney fantasies of “social utopia”. With characteristic intensity, he explores the transformation of entertainment into ideology, and hints at the implicit dangers in a reality based on the production of magic.

Artist: Tuymans Luc. “Der Diagnostische Blick IV”, 1992 photographer: © Felix Tirry

Belgian conceptual artist Luc Tuymans (b.1958) is one of the most significant and influential painters working today. At a time when many artists believe painting has lost its relevance in the context of the information age, Tuymans has brought new life to the medium. He also makes extensive use of techniques from photography and film such as cropping, close-ups, framing and sequencing. In his latest exhibition, “Forever, The Management of Magic” (2008) at the David Swirner gallery in New York, Tuymans turns his gaze on the global but distinctly American

je me souviens (vue loin) © Thierry Renauld

l'envol, 2005 © Thierry Renauld

A large retrospective exhibition of the work of world-renowned Belgian artist, sculptor and illustrator Jean-Michel Folon takes place from April to September 2008 in a variety of locations across Belgium. Organised by the Folon Foundation in conjunction with the Office de promotion du Tourisme Wallonie-Bruxelles, the exhibition invites Belgian and foreign tourists to (re)discover the extraordinary work of Folon in different locations from Knokke to Marche-en-Famenne. Exhibition highlights include the collection of more than 500 artworks over 40 years at the farm of the Castle of La Hulpe, the home of the Folon Foundation situated in scenic Solvay Park. Some of Folon’s best known works include his forlorn but endearing urban Everymen figures as well as his soaring birdmen.

Best of Belgium

23


‘Le Parlement de Musique’; photographer Alexander Ponet

VOX LUMINIS

Economy and Industry

The 2008 Festival de Wallonie focuses on nature through the theme “Songs of the Earth”. Drawing on the inspiration of the seasons, water and fauna and flora, this theme explore the music of nature in its many forms: a waterfall, a thunderstorm, a river or a whistling bird. Composer Benoît Mernier and world-traveller Alain Hubert are guests of honour at this year’s festival. In a programme of stories and music, they show the harmony between nature and music. One of Europe’s major classical music festivals, the Flanders Festival brings 350 concerts to the area over the course of several months. Key towns participating in the Festival include Brussels, Bruges, Antwerp, Ghent and Flemish Louvain, each with their separate line-ups. Antwerp’s festival focuses on Historically Informed Performance, recreating medieval or renaissance music as it might have sounded hundreds of years ago. Each year Laus Polyphoniae, an early music event that takes place annually during the last weeks of August, focuses on a certain repertoire or a certain composer. In 2008 Laus Polyphoniae will focus on the musical repertoire of the Hanseatic League. The Basilica Festival guarantees its audience concerts and music theatre of high quality. Highlights in 2008 include performances by the prize-winners of the Queen Elisabeth Competition, the International Frans Liszt Piano Competition in Utrecht and the International Quatuor Competition of Bordeaux. Flanders Opera’s 2008-2009 season is both a farewell and a new beginning. Marc Clémeur steps down as general director at the end of 2008 after 18 years and will be succeeded by the young Swiss Aviel Cahn. Last year Flanders Opera finished a remarkable cycle of Wagners Der Ring des Nibelungen. Clémeur will be saying farewell with a performance of Verdi’s final masterpiece Falstaff. The two other productions under his directorship scheduled for the autumn are Puccini’s Turandot and Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia. Aviel Cahn takes charge from the beginning of 2009 with four operas around the theme of “Utopia” — Tchaikovsky’s Mazeppa, Mozart’s Cosi fan Tutte, Camille Saint-Saëns’ Samson et Dalila and the contemporary opera Aquarius by the Flemish composer Karel Goeyvaerts. Samson et Dalila will be a highpoint of the season, bringing together the young Palestinian Amir Nizar Zuabi and the experienced Israeli Omri Nitzan in a “topical insight into the mechanics of religiously and politically motivated fanaticism”. Flanders Opera performs in two historical buildings in Ghent and Antwerp.

24

Best of Belgium


© Bruno Vessié

The Royal Ballet of Flanders stands alone today as the sole classical ballet company in Belgium. Founded thirtynine years ago by the visionary Jeanne Brabants, the company started as an off-shoot of the Opera, but rapidly achieved international recognition. Now the Royal Ballet of Flanders is ready to start a fourth season under the inspiring artistic direction of Kathryn Bennetts. She has broken new ground, seeking to bridge the gap between tradition and experiment. The innovative developments have to do with people, with an exchange between choreographers and an artistic director with a vision. In the short period Bennetts has been director, the repertoire, has proved rich and varied and bears witness to a distinct signature: sparkling and bright, the

dance performances particularly refined. The season 2007-2008 has brought a completely new repertoire including such renowned choreographers as William Forsythe, Jiri Kylian, George Balanchine, Marcia Haydee and Christian Spuck. With this season alone including four world premieres by Jorma Elo, Matteo Moles, Cayetano Soto and Michael Corder, creativity remains at the forefront. Although the season began on a very exciting note with performances of „Impressing the Czar“ at the Edinburgh Festival, the undoubted highlight of the touring schedule this season was the performances at the Lincoln Center Festival in New York in July. In today’s varied dancescape the Royal Ballet of Flanders more strongly than ever claims its place.

© SABAM-ADAGP, Bruxelles-Paris 2008

© Jacques Croisier Aki Saito, Wim Vanlessen & ensemble ©Angela Sterling

Highlights of the 2007-2008 season of the Liege-based Opera Royal de Wallonie include Verdi favourites Nabucco and Don Carlo, Puccini’s Tosca, La Vie Parisienne by Offenbach and Savary, and Edouard Lalo’s Le Roi d’Ys. Visiting artists include conductors Paolo Arrivabeni and Giovanni Antonini, directors Yoisha Oida and Giardino Armonico, and singers Yonghoon Lee, Mark Rucker and Susan Neves.

Hungarian tenor Szabolcs Brickner won the Grand Prize in the 2008 International Queen Elisabeth singing competition, which took place in Brussels at the end of May. Brickner, who studies with the legendary operatic tenor Nicolai Gedda, has appeared at the Budapest Opera House in Die Zauberflöte and L’Elisir d’Amore. Mezzosopranos Isabelle Druet from France and Bernadetta Grabias from Poland were the runners-up.

A new museum dedicated to Belgian surrealist master René Magritte is to open in Brussels in June 2009. The museum on the Place Royale will feature some 170 works by Magritte, making it the world’s biggest and most diverse collection of its kind. Among his most famous pictures are The Son of Man, depicting a bowlerhatted figure with an apple floating before his face, and Ceci n’est pas une pipe (This is not a pipe), which depicts a pipe. French group Suez is contributing €4 million to the project.

Best of Belgium

25


26

Best of Belgium

Grand-Hornu is an old industrial mining complex - a remarkable reminder of the Industrial Revolution. Built between 1810 and 1830 by Henri De Gorge, a captain of industry of French origin, it is a real urban project, an example of functional town-planning unique on the European continent at the start of the great era of industrialisation. Built in the Neo-classical style, GrandHornu consists of workshops, offices, a workers’ estate and the administrators’ residence, known as “De Gorge Castle”. With their arcades, pediments and halfmoon windows, the colliery workshops and offices form a majestic whole. The estate was later provided with a school, a library, public baths, a dance hall and a hospital. Grand-Hornu is a complex which is both exceptional and representative of an era - a grandiose project, yet not excessive in any way, where we find balance and harmony between the stylistic and functional aspects of the architecture.   Grand-Hornu, which is now the property of the Province of Hainaut, is developing a contemporary project allying culture, tourism, technology and futurology.

The International Film Festival Ghent celebrates its 35th anniversary in October 2008 with screenings of more than 200 films and shorts and free live performances of top film scores by the Brussels Philharmonic orchestra. The concerts will feature crowdpleasing tunes by top film score composers such as John Williams (Harry Potter, Indiana Jones), Craig Armstrong (World Trade Centre, Love Actually), John Powell (Ice Age, Mr and Mrs Smith) and Nicola Piovani (La Vita e bella). The festival also marks the occasion of the 8th annual World Soundtrack Awards. Guests of honour at this year’s ceremony are Angelo Badalamenti, best known for his soundtrack work with American film director David Lynch, and Dario Marianelli, who won an Oscar for his soundtrack to Atonement in 2007.

Opening Kunstenfestivaldesarts08

© Danny Willems IMPORT EXPORT – Koen Augustijnen © Chris Van der Burght

Popular, anarchic, eclectic, committed. These are some of the adjectives to describe Les Ballets C de la B, an internationally successful Belgian dance company with a reputation for bold and vigorous physical theatre delivered through an eclectic mix of styles and media. Using a variety of choreographers, Les Ballets also develops promising young performing artists from different backgrounds. Their latest production is Patchagonia, Argentinian choreographer Lisi Estaràs’s debut work for the company, which explores themes of loneliness, violence and emotion in the desolate landscape of Patagonia. The bold and haunting performances of the four dancers and three on-stage musicians suggest that Estaràs is a choreographer to watch for the future.

© Grand Hornu Images

Arts

Rosas, the dance ensemble and production company founded by choreographer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, premiered its new creation Zeitung at the Théâtre de la Ville in Paris in January 2008 to glowing reviews. Exploring the intersection of music and dance, the Rosas dancers combine the simple building blocks of choreography with a considerable amount of improvisation. Pianist Alain Franco takes as his medium the harmonious confrontation between Bach, Schoenberg and Webern. De Keersmaeker says that in Zeitung the “harmony between music and dance does not develop from similarity or parallelism but momentarily, where the two intersect. ... Dance and music depart from different stations and it is the run-up to the intersection that stimulates the conditions of harmony”.

One of Europe’s great festivals, the annual Brussels-based Kunstenfestivaldesarts offers contemporary works of art by a range of artists in 20 diverse venues around the city. Kunstenfestivaldesarts 08 provides a platform for international performing artists from Europe, India, Japan, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand while also supporting and presenting new works by a young generation of Belgians to an international audience. One innovative show, Call Cutta in a box, by the German collective Rimini Protokoll, provides spectators with the opportunity to experience a live telephone conversation with a call-centre employee in Kolkata, who is paid to provide theatre for a European audience. Through bringing diverse viewpoints in original languages onto a cosmopolitan stage, the festival values differences, both global and local, and seeks to unite communities through the arts.


© Dragone 2007 © Capilla Flamenca

Franco Dragone, the Belgian creative mastermind behind Cirque du Soleil, has directed a number of spectacular shows since he left Cirque du Soleil in 2000 to start his own production company (Dragone). Two of the biggest productions in the history of Las Vegas, Celine Dion’s concert extravaganza “A New Life” at Caesar’s Palace and the dazzling aquatic production Le Rêve at Wynn Las Vegas continue to be very successful. Since 2007 Dragone has also directed musicaltheatre with “Carmen: A New Musical” at the La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego. This show breathes new life into Prosper Mérimée’s brutal tale of sensuality, passion and obsession, infusing it with dazzling imagery, original music and dance.

Capilla Flamenca are a group of Belgian singers with a gift for discovering and bringing to life rarely-heard choral repertoire and placing it within an interesting context. Their recent CD Desir d’aymer is a harmonious celebration of the amorous senses. Included in the collection are several songs from Ottaviano Petrucci’s Harmonice Musices Odhecaton (1501), which brings together in printed form polyphonic music mainly from the Low Countries.

From Inside © Thierry De Mey

Charleroi / Danses, a leading Belgian association of artists focusing on contemporary dance, is an off-shoot of the former Ballet Royal de Wallonie. Their 20082009 season begins with Metamorphoses, directed by Belgian choreographer Frédéric Flamand with costumes by the Brazilian brothers Humberto & Fernando Campana. Inspired by Ovid’s classical mythological poem, Flamand’s work progresses through nine scenes, each one showing nature, man and the gods in a state of flux. The production depicts the excitement and terror of transformations with the help of the Campanas’ imaginatively recycled materials.

Best of Belgium

27


Arts

The Ghent International Film Festival – Where Music Sets the Tone

Danny Glover (2007)

The Ghent Film Festival (Flanders International Film Festival-Ghent) was established in 1974 as a students’ film festival, and has since developed into one of Europe’s most prominent film events.

Every year in October, the festival presents some 120 features and 50 shorts from all across the world. A range of different film programs are showcased, attracting over 100,000 viewers each year. The International Federation of Film Producers Associations (IFFPA) recognises this festival as a competitive festival primarily geared towards the ‘impact of music on film’. There are 4 awards up for grabs and around 15 entrants. With its focus on film music, the Ghent Film Festival has its own unique place

28

Best of Belgium

in international festivals. Every year, the festival organises film music concerts, giving composers of film scores the platform they deserve. Composers such as Ennio Morricone, Gabriel Yared, Elmer Bernstein, Michael Kamen, Patrick Doyle, Howard Shore, Georges Delerue, Hans Zimmer, Maurice Jarre, Craig Armstrong, HarryGregson Williams, Mychael Danna, Gustavo Santaolalla are some of the many film music legends who have already taken the stage at Ghent. Since 2001, the Ghent Film Festival

has also organised the World Soundtrack Awards, the most prestigious soundtrack awards in the world. Each year, the best soundtrack composers are honoured and receive international recognition for their work. This pioneering role has certainly had an impact. Ghent has grown into a meeting point for established and up-and-coming musical talent and ever greater numbers of festivals play soundtracks from the wings. Since 2004, even the European Film Academy – encouraged by the Ghent Film


Director David Cronenberg and actor Viggo Mortensen (2005) Actress Kathleen Turner, director Walter Hill and festival director Jacques Dubrulle (2007)

Lord Richard Attenborough (2007)

Festival - has honoured the best European soundtrack composers. Trade paper Variety placed the festival in its top 50 must attend festivals of the world because of this focus on (film)music. American financial newspaper The Wall Street Journal called the festival one of the five European Film Festivals with character and Hollywood Reporter described the festival as one of the most intriguing stops on the international fest circuit. Yet there is more to the Ghent Film Festival than just soundtracks alone. Every

year, numerous international guests from the world of film flock to Ghent to present their films to the general public. Over the past years, the festival has welcomed filmmakers such as Kathleen Turner, Viggo Mortensen, David Cronenberg, Mike Leigh, François Ozon, Jeanne Moreau, Gina Lollobrigida, Tom Tykwer, Lord Richard Attenborough, Todd Haynes, Sir Peter Ustinov, Walter Hill, Danny Glover, Sidney Pollack, Jane Birkin, Luc Besson, Mike Figgis, Morgan Freeman, Fatih Akin, Andy Garcia, Melanie Griffith, Robert Altman, Juliette Binoche, Sandra Bullock, Brad Pitt, Ken Loach and Michael Haneke. In addition to the screenings, the Ghent Film Festival also organises film-related exhibitions. Thus the prestigious Stanley Kubrick exhibition, which was previously shown in Berlin, Melbourne and Frankfurtam-Main, was brought to Ghent before other world cities such as Rome, Paris and London. Film fanatics have also been able to see exhibitions of film maker Peter Greenaway,

animation film maker Raoul Servais, and the large exhibition Cités-Cinés with over 450,000 visitors. The Ghent Film Festival will continue to keep a close watch on international film developments in order to organise a festival that is as captivating as possible. To this end, a fresh, young team works hard day after day. The 35th edition of the Ghent Film Festival is scheduled for October 7th-18th, 2008. Once again “The impact of music on film” is the overall theme. More than 150 films will be shown at Kinepolis Ghent, Sphinx, Studio Skoop and Arts Centre Vooruit.

Ghent Film Festival (Flanders International Film Festival-Ghent), Leeuwstraat 40b, B-9000 Ghent Tel: +32 (0)9 242 80 60 Fax: + 32(0)9 221 90 74 info@filmfestival.be www.filmfestival.be www.worldsoundtrackacademy.com

Best of Belgium

29


Arts

The Queen Elisabeth International Music Competition of Belgium

© Bruno Vessié

In memory of the renowned Belgian violinist Eugène Ysaÿe, Queen Elisabeth worked on fulfilling the wish they had shared: to bring together in Brussels the finest young musicians, at an event celebrating their art in a spirit of friendship.

30

Best of Belgium


Winner Queen Elisabeth wedstrijd Szabolcs BRICKNER © Laurent Friob © Bruno Vessié

Up to the end of the 60s, candidates came mainly from Europe and the United States. Since then, young musicians from Asia and Australia - increasingly open to Western European culture and mastering to the highest degree its repertoire and styles of music - have also travelled to the heart of Europe, recognising the substantial assistance and prestige which the Competition can provide. The piano, singing, violin and composition

competitions attract the premier soloists, chamber musicians and teachers of tomorrow, all contributing to the lasting heritage of Europe’s musical history since the 17th century. The Competition owes its reputation primarily to the quality of its jury-members and prizewinners. The presence of so many men and women musicians from all over the world in Brussels each spring contributes to the international flavour of Brussels life. Queen Elisabeth was convinced of the benefits to society which the Arts and the bringing together of different peoples can provide. 50 years later, her message to respect and listen to each other seems as relevant as ever.

Secretariat of the Queen Elisabeth Competition 20, rue aux Laines B-1000 Brussels Tel : +32 2 213 40 50 Fax : +32 2 514 32 97 info@qeimc.be

Best of Belgium

31


Arts

Rosas Rosas is the contemporary dance company founded and lead by the Belgian choreographer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker.

32

Best of Belgium


© Herman Sorgeloos

© Tina Ruisinger

© Herman Sorgeloos

A fine selection of international reputable dancers contributes to the steady growth of the company’s multifaceted oeuvre. The company is based in Brussels and tours its productions worldwide. After studying dance in Brussels and New York, choreographer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker founded her company Rosas in Brussels in 1983. Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s first choreography for the brand-new company was Rosas danst Rosas - a piece that the company borrowed its name from, and that brought it an instantaneous international breakthrough. De Keersmaeker soon established herself as one of Europe’s most exciting and innovating choreographers. With Rosas she would give Belgium a prominent place in the dance landscape. In 1992 Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker was invited as resident choreographer at De Munt, the Brussels opera house: a cooperation that was carried on until 2007. Rosas and De Munt jointly set up the international educational project PARTS, the Performing Arts Research and Training Studios, directed by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. Today the dance school, which offers a four-year curriculum, houses talented students from all over the world. From the very start De Keersmaeker set the tone of Rosas’ work with her characteristic dance vocabulary and tightly structured choreographies. Her movements often highlight singular parts of a dancer’s body - head, hip, foot, hand - and show the beauty and significance of small human gestures. De

Keersmaeker applies rigorous patterns and structures in her choreographies, creating fascinating rhythms. Fairly soon De Keersmaeker left the confines of pure dance and ventured into the realms of text theatre and live music, creating at times complex but highly enjoyable performances that blend the different disciplines. A sense of nonchalance and playfulness has given more buoyancy to her precise style. De Keersmaeker is fond of selecting such great composers as Bartók, Bach, Mozart and Ligeti for her work, but she has also cooperated with experimental composers like Thierry De Mey (B), Peter Vermeersch (B), or with the ethno-jazz quartet of Aka Moon (B). She has a special preference for American composer Steve Reich, whose music she has used in several pieces. The most recent Rosas creations include D’un soir un jour (2006), Steve Reich Evening (2007), Keeping Still (2007) and Zeitung (2008). Source: www.vti.be

Van Volxemlaan 164, 1190 Brussels Phone: +32 2 344 55 98 Fax: +32 2 343 53 52 mail@rosas.be www.rosas.be www.parts.be Rosas is supported by the Flemish authorities.

Best of Belgium

33


Arts

Muziektheater Transparant Opera for a new generation

Villa Vivaldi © Herman Sorgeloos

Muziektheater Transparant is a production company which takes a wide-open look at opera and musical theatre. With a mix of old and new, of conventional and extra-ordinary, it shifts the boundaries of the genres and places the voice firmly at the centre of the projects. Because of the flexible production methods, the variety of shows and the artistic diversity of the artists in residence, general director Guy Coolen has made of Transparant a unique organisation with a solid national and international character.

34

Best of Belgium

“Transparant guarantees the future of the opera.” (Gerard Mortier) With a most open approach towards the possiblities of musical theatre, Transparant aspires to create opera for a new generation. The main aim is to bring together distinct genres, disciplines and ideas. Classical operas must be staged in a way relevant in today’s world, new operas should take the genre forward. Transparant pays particular attention to offering contemporary musicians the chance to develop and try new work. It

has produced operas by Wim Henderickx, and worked with composers like Jan Van Outryve and Eric Sleichim. A more theatrical approach is added with directors Caroline Petrick, Wouter Van Looy and Josse De Pauw. Annelies Van Parys and Joachim Brackx, two most promising Flemish composers, are invited for a three-year residence to put their first steps in music theatre. The importance of being international The productions of Transparant are touring


RUHE © Herman Sorgeloos

Die Entführung aus dem Paradies © Herman Sorgeloos

Wolpe! © Herman Sorgeloos

all over the world, from the Flemish cultural centres to big international festivals including Salzburger Festspiele, Avignon Festival, Holland Festival, Kunstenfestivaldesarts, and Edinburgh International Festival. Transparant has also played an integral part in the music programming at European Cities of Culture in Bruges, Salamanca and Lille. In Stavanger 2008, Transparant was the music theatre company in residence during February, and engaged in a profound collaboration with the local artists. An

A girl a boy a river © Koen Broos

(after) The Fairy Queen © Freija Van Esbroeck

invitation for Linz 2009 signed up already. In February 2008 Muziektheater Transparant spent a whole month in Norway, in Stavanger European Cultural Capital of 2008. Intendant Mary Miller about the Transparant: ‘A lot of artists and ensembles are coming to Stavanger to perform and show what they can do. Then they leave us. However, this is not the case with the Flemish group from Antwerp. They run Muziektheater Transparant and have plotted Stavanger on their cultural map.’ (in Stavanger Aftenblad, 03.10.07) Unique in this international regard, is the Institute for Living Voice project, a peripatetic workshop at which singers and musicians from all musical traditions come together to hold workshops and give recitals. Students meet master singers, traditional ethnic songs meet vocal experiments. Between it’s founding in 2000 by Transparant and David Moss, the Institute welcomed between others Barbara Bonney, Christina Branco, Omar Ebrahim, Nona Henderickx, Phil Minton, Meredith Monk, and Sainko Namtchylak.

composers, Eric Sleichim, Annelies van Parys and Jan Van Outryve, have composed contemporary music for these films. Other than this the focus will be on early 20th-century music: Claire Chevallier, Benoît van Innis and Josse De Pauw will appear on stage with Poulenc’s Babar and Satie’s Le Fils des Etoiles. Caroline Petrick will work on the Harawi songs by Olivier Messiaen and there will be a revival of Wolpe! - a musical-theatre production she made together with Viviane De Muynck, Johan Bossers and Gunnar Brandt-Sigurdsson. Early musical work will be performed in Wouter Van Looy’s new production (after) The Fairy Queen (Purcell), in which the top conductor Emmanuelle Haïm and her baroque ensemble, Le Concert d’Astrée, will participate. More baroque musique can be heard in the revivals of Waar is mijn ziel? (Monteverdi) with the B’rock baroque ensemble and in RUHE (Schubert) with Collegium Vocale Gent directed by Josse De Pauw. About 45 young singers and musicians from Flanders and Friesland will be working on Rameau’s Platée for the annual youth opera workshop. All this young talent will be coached by the director Ruud Gielens and the musical supervisors Jan Van Outryve, Thomas Baeté, Ayala Sircon and Marcin Lasia. For the full programme and venues nearby, read more at www.transparant.be.

On the play list in 08-09 Muziektheater Transparant gave a composition assignment to the young composer Joachim Brackx. Die Entführung aus dem Paradies will be his first big musicaltheatre production with the première in the Flemish Opera in Antwerp (June 09). In it he works together with the writer and librettist Oscar van den Boogaard. Joachim Brackx is also involved in Pour vos Beaux Yeux, a project based on a series of restored silent movies from the 1920s and 30s by the Belgian film directors Henri Storck and Charles Dekeukeleire. Apart from Joachim Brackx, the other house

Muziektheater Transparant vzw Leopoldplaats 10 bus 1 B-2000 Antwerpen Tel: + 32 (0)3 225 17 02 (ma-vr.: tussen 10-18u) Fax: + 32 (0)3 22616 52 Email: info@transparant.be www.transparant.be

Best of Belgium

35


I have never hated a man enough to give his diamonds back.

Š Diamond Museum Antwerp - Ceara Mc Guire

Zsa Zsa Gabor (1919 - )


Chapter 2 Diamonds


Diamonds

Antwerp and Diamonds, a Love Story

© Karl Bruninx

© Karl Bruninx

Antwerp has long been associated with diamonds. By 2007, more than half of the world’s consumption of rough, as well as polished and industrial diamonds, is traded in Antwerp, realising an annual turnover of 42 billion US$.

38

Best of Belgium

The diamond sector represents 12% of the Flemish export and is one of the most important ambassadors and economic mainstays of the country. 1800 diamond companies have their headquarters in this heavily guarded zone, with its four diamond bourses. Specialised diamond banks, security and transport firms, brokers, consultants, schools, travel agents and of course hotels and restaurants are all part of this lively society. We shall probably never know when the first diamonds were discovered, but we do know that, from ancient times until the eighteenth century, diamonds came from India. In the 14th and 15th century Venice became the most important world trade

centre because of its link and flourishing trade relations with the East. The city even became the most important mercantile republic in the western world. It enjoyed a monopoly of the diamond trade for diamonds on its way to the main cities of southern Germany up to its final destination in Bruges. Lying as it did at the far end of the trade route, Bruges gradually developed into a flourishing diamond-cutting centre and the city’s reputation in this field steadily increased within time. Although Bruges maintained its pre-eminent position up to the end of the fourteenth century, within fifty years it began to decline because of the silting of the Zwin. The diamond trade, along with Bruges’s many other economic activities, gradually shifted to the city of Antwerp


© Mark Dankers

of the reasons for the decline of Antwerp as diamond trade centre at that time. From the 19th century onwards, Antwerp could again profile itself as Diamond City and World Diamond Centre. In 1866 the first diamonds were discovered in South Africa. This discovery, followed a few years later by the discovery of the Kimberley deposits and the fabulous Kimberley era as well as the rise of the now-famous De Beers Consolidated Mines Ltd. resulted in large-scale prospecting and mining activities, which brought Europe massive supplies of rough diamonds. This massive influx of rough stones following the discoveries in South Africa was instrumental in contributing to the city’s status of Antwerp as the world’s leading diamond centre. Within a few months, this massive influx provided work for thousands of craftsmen, and the swift revival of diamond cutting in Antwerp was further stimulated by an ever-growing demand for gemstones. The depression of the 1930s hit the diamond trade in Antwerp hard. The cutting shops were sometimes shut down completely for several weeks at a time. The situation remained difficult but things grew worse with the outbreak of the Second World War. In 1939 many Jewish businessmen fled the country and went to the United States, Portugal or England, where more than 500 diamond dealers from Antwerp continued to meet and to do business. In an attempt to save as much of the existing diamond stocks as possible from the Germans, the 500 dealers in England transferred the diamonds there. In agreement with the British government, an organisation known as the Correspondence Office for the Diamond Industry was set up to register the diamonds and keep them for the duration of the war. Thanks to this organisation large quantities of diamonds were returned to their owners after the city was liberated and the Antwerp diamond industry got off to a promising start when the war was ended. The Antwerp diamond business thanks its rise after World War II to the Jewish community in Antwerp.

© Karl Bruninx

© Karl Bruninx

since the second half of the 15th century. Antwerp offered newer and better facilities for communications and exchange. In the sixteenth century Antwerp was an expanding and flourishing city. By this time Antwerp (and Lisbon) became the most important world centre(s) for diamonds and Antwerp specifically already played a determining role in the development of diamond-working techniques. It is significant, for example, that François I did not call on the diamond cutters of Paris but placed his orders with the craftsmen of Antwerp. Antwerp was at that time the commercial heart of Europe: approximately 40% of the world trade passed through its port. Naturally the diamond business occupied a favoured place. In fact diamond ‘manufacturing’ (cutting/polishing) and diamond trade used to be a flourishing business in Antwerp until the 17th century. This because fewer diamonds from the Indian mines became available. In 1727 diamonds were already imported from Brazil, but more than 160 of the 180 guild members (of the Guild for Diamond and Rubin Cutters) were unemployed. The liberation of the trade in jewellery and gems in 1754 made the situation even worse for the diamond ‘manufacturers’ (cutters/polishers). The diamond merchants on the other hand were better off during the 17th and 18th century in Antwerp. So, although the northern Netherlands (Amsterdam) acquired more grip on the diamond business, Antwerp’s decline did not occur overnight and despite internal struggles such as the conflict between the New Guild of Diamond Cutters and the rich merchants, the city’s prestige remained apparently intact up to the middle of the seventeenth century. The diamond trade itself continued to flourish. For example, the French king Louis XVI ordered the re-polishing of his crown jewellery in Antwerp in 1787. During the first half of the 18th century, the Englishman James Dormer (1708-1758) tried to establish a monopoly for the import of Brazilian diamonds but the Portuguese king gave Amsterdam the monopoly. This was one

The city knew various Jewish families from the 16th century on, mostly with roots in Portugal. The Jewish community played an important role in the foundation of ‘Beurs voor Diamanthandel’ (1904), one of the four diamond bourses, and the launch of the ‘Kempische’ diamond craftsmanship. Today the diamond business is run by people from very different nationalities, of which the Indian community is nowadays the strongest. The coordinating body and official representative of the diamond sector, is the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC): an official organisation, recognised internationally and acting as host, spokesperson and intermediary for the Belgian diamond community. AWDC is the Belgian diamond sector’s official liaison with governments, and actively promotes support for the diamond sector, home and abroad (www.awdc.be)

Best of Belgium

39


Diamonds

The Antwerp Diamond Heritage

HRD Awards 2007, A Night at the Opera; © D.B. Woodrow

Antwerp is situated in Belgium, the heart of Europe. The city on the banks of the river Scheldt has always been a centre of commerce and culture.

Today, Antwerp is the major city of Flanders. It is situated at the crossroads of international traffic, at a half hour’s drive from Brussels, the Belgian capital and the headquarters of the European Community. Since 1447, Antwerp has been synonymous with quality diamonds and superior craftsmanship. Thanks to its harbour, Antwerp was a place of unlimited opportunities. The Diamond industry expanded considerably due to strong commercial relations with neighbours. The Antwerp World Diamond Centre was born.

40

Best of Belgium

Lodewijck Van Bercken was said to have invented the process of polishing diamonds with diamonds. In his honour, a statue was erected at the Meir. Today, Antwerp still has the best diamond workers in the world. Antwerp Cut is the trade mark for perfectly processed diamonds. Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) Founded in 1973 as the “Hoge Raad voor Diamant” (HRD) or the “Diamond High Council”, and reformed into a private foundation called Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) in 2007, AWDC is the officially recognised representative

organisation of the Belgian diamond trade and –industry, acting as a spokesman and co-ordinator of all activities in the diamond sector. It is the marketing organization of the Antwerp diamantaires. Antwerp World Diamond Centre is more than ever committed to maintaining a healthy and prosperous diamond industry. Antwerp exports to over 90 countries, spreading the quality image and the philosophy of the Antwerp diamond sector. AWDC Marketing Department Visitors can appeal to the AWDC Marketing Department for any kind of information:


Courtesy of AWDC © mdbc

• HRD Awards, an international Diamond Jewellery Contest Every two years the AWDC organizes the HRD Awards, an international diamond jewellery design competition with the chance for a jewellery designer to win not only a prestigious international award, but to stake his or her place on the global jewellery map. The HRD Awards is widely recognized as the world’s leading design contest in creative and innovative diamond jewellery. The contest is open to all designers and to date it has promoted twenty years of creativity and experimentation in contemporary diamond jewellery design. More information on www.hrdawards.be. • Antwerp Facets The Antwerp Facets is the Antwerp Trade magazine that keeps you posted on the current Antwerp Diamond market situation and much more. Issued 4 times a year. Antwerp Facets Online is the weekly internet version. • Antwerp Diamond Conference, the World Diamond Industry Forum The AWDC organizes the Antwerp Diamond Conference, at which world and industry leaders gather to address the issues of the day. In recent years the conference has become a hallmark event for the trade worldwide. At the same time, it provides a platform for intensive networking among the world’s leading professionals in the diamond and jewellery business, right in the heart of Antwerp, the leading diamond centre of the world. In the past the conference has hosted such speakers as Al Gore, William J. Clinton – 42nd President of the United States, De Beers Chairman Nicky Oppenheimer, Thabo Mbeki, President of South Africa and H.E. Ellen JohnsonSirleaf, President of Liberia. More information on www.antwerpdiamondconference.be. • Exclusive Diamond Jewellery Exhibitions As part of its mission to promote Antwerp as the pre-eminent international diamond centre, the AWDC has over the years organised a series of world-class exhibitions of diamond jewellery. The purpose of these exhibitions is to elevate Antwerp’s role in the jewellery business, in addition to the position its holds as a

Courtesy of AWDC © mdbc

Trade proposals, promotional material, documentation service, backstage tour…

diamond manufacturing and trading centre. A minimum of two years is required to prepare for such an event. Selection criteria are very strict, so as to ensure spectacular and exclusive diamond jewellery collections. The first exhibition in the series took place in 1993, and it was one of the highlights during a festive year in which Antwerp was declared the “Cultural Capital of Europe.” Called “From the Treasury,” it featured a unique collection of historic and contemporary gems, as well as jewels belonging to royal houses. The jewellery was loaned by an impressive list of museums, exclusive jewellery houses, auction houses and private collectors. The royal houses themselves cooperated in the organisation of the event. “From the Treasury” opened at the Province House of Antwerp in the presence of their royal highnesses, Prince Albert and Princess Paola, today King and Queen of the Belgians. Following the spectacular success of the first exhibition, the AWDC decided to repeat this initiative on a regular basis. Successful exhibitions were held again in 1997, 2002 and 2008 called “Diamond Divas”. Preparations are already underway for the fifth edition, planned for 2012. • Antwerp Diamond Pavilions and Trade Missions AWDC is more than ever committed in maintaining a healthy and prosperous diamond industry, spreading the quality image of the Antwerp diamond sector. This philosophy is perfectly embodied in the Antwerp Diamond Pavilions. AWDC communicates the superiority of Antwerp diamonds to the major

consumer markets through the organisation of Antwerp Diamond pavilions at all major diamond and jewellery trade fairs worldwide. Antwerp Diamond Pavilions are organized in Vicenza, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Mumbai, Dubai, Las Vegas, Macau… Diamond Office Diamond Office is unique in the world and acts as a customs broker for the import and export of diamonds and handles all the paperwork for this process, a considerable service to the diamond companies. Operated by AWDC and in collaboration with the financial and economic services of the Federal Government, Diamond Office ensures rapid and efficient controls. Your guarantee for conflict free diamonds. International Affairs Antwerp (AWDC) has played a leading role in the implementation of the Kimberley Process Certification System. This system was formally adopted in 2003 and guards against conflict diamonds entering the legitimate diamond supply chain. Today 71 governments have enshrined into their national law the Kimberley Process Certification System. Visit us at www.awdc.be, your virtual guide to the Antwerp World Diamond Centre.

Practical information AWDC Marketing Department Hoveniersstraat 22 – B-2018 Antwerp Tel: +32 3 222 05 11 Fax: +32 3 222 05 46 E-mail: info@awdc.be www.awdc.be

Best of Belgium

41


Diamonds

HRD Antwerp: The Blueprint for Quality There are only a limited number of immediately recognised brand names in the international diamond business. One is “Antwerp” and another, inexorably linked to the former, is “HRD.” They are linked in a company called HRD Antwerp, which serves the diamond industry for more than 30 years. HRD Antwerp NV operates six divisions: Diamond Lab (which issues one of the world’s most respected diamond certificates), Education, Graduates Club, Precious Stones Lab, Equipment and Research. HRD Antwerp achieves international prominence in the diamond industry by proving time and time again its ability to anticipate needs and offer solutions. “The goal of HRD Antwerp is to provide high quality services to the industry worldwide, with a strong emphasis on the substantial body of scientific research it carries out independently.” explained Dirk Dullaert, HRD Antwerp’s commercial director. Diamond Lab Demand for diamond grading reports has grown dramatically in recent years, as consumers increasingly demand independent and concrete documentation of their purchases. Based on this growing demand worldwide, HRD Antwerp has opened representative offices in Mumbai, Shanghai and Hong Kong. It also launched HRD Antwerp Lab Link, a diamond grading and certification pick-up and drop off service in Tel Aviv, Hong Kong, Mumbai and Dubai. HRD Antwerp Lab Link offers a full service for customers who like to receive a HRD Antwerp certificate for their diamonds. The service guarantees that diamonds are picked up by a professional logistic company and sent to Antwerp. Within 15 days, the customer receives back his diamond with an HRD Antwerp diamond certificate. This service is offered at very competitive prices. HRD Antwerp diamond certificate guarantees that the stone examined is indeed a real diamond, and contains a full and detailed quality description, focussing on the famous 4C’s – Carat (weight), Colour, Clarity and Cut. The report includes a complete quality description of the diamond including shape, weight, clarity grade, fluorescence, colour grade, possibly supplemented with comments. The HRD Antwerp Diamond Lab is the largest diamond grading organisation worldwide to confirm to the standards of the International Diamond Council, by the World Federation of Diamond Bourses and the International Diamond Manufacturers Association, the industry’s two leading representative bodies. The Diamond Lab was also the first diamond

42

Best of Belgium


lab ever to receive accreditation by the International Standards Organisation, and currently operates according to the demanding standards of NBN EN ISO/IEC 17025. Underpinning the work at the lab is the Research Department. Located at a dedicated facility in the nearby town of Lier, the institute has a team of scientists, engineers and laboratory staff carrying out research into diamond properties, as well as applied research to assist the diamond industry and to provide specialized services to the sector. One of these new services is called ‘Hearts and Arrows by HRD Antwerp’. Hearts and Arrows diamonds (H&A) are round brilliants with special patterns visible under specific lighting conditions. They consist of eight hearts when viewed from the pavilion side and eight arrows when viewed from the crown side. The appearance of the pattern is a strong indicator of a top quality cut. HRD Antwerp ordered a research project to solve several problems linked with grading this pattern. Today companies can ask for such an HRD certificate for a diamond. With objective criteria and digital imaging is determined whether a diamond meets the Hearts & Arrows standard. At the same time, diamond professionals receive accurate and repeatable feedback to assist them in the manufacturing and sales process.

Education For more than two decades, the Educational Department of HRD Antwerp created a strong reputation for developing and conducting diamond grading programmes for students and professionals from Antwerp and overseas. The Educational Department also runs programs for the study of gemstones. In operation since 1982, HRD Antwerp has created courses for people from across the diamond chain, including diamond traders and graders, diamond specialists in other sectors, managers and professional staff in the diamond and jewellery industries, appraisers, gemmologists and jewellery designers. The institute has created new programs for short training courses, which enable it to provide a broad range of courses lasting from three days to five weeks. The three-day course introduces participants to the 4Cs; while the five-week course is on diamond grading. The gemmology course was split into

two programs, basic and advanced, of three weeks’ duration. HRD Antwerp started recently with classes on the use of diamonds in jewellery design. It teaches the students how to transfer creative ideas to practical concepts. Leveraging its scientific knowledge, the Educational Department works with the company’s research division to keep up date with the latest developments in the diamond industry and adapt courses and classes to meet demand. All the latest technical and technological developments on the diamond market are included in its programs. In addition to its in-demand courses in Antwerp, HRD Antwerp provides courses around the world, thus saving time and expenses for companies who can ill-afford to have employees away from their offices. These courses have taken place in cities as far apart as Cairo, Madrid, Dubai, Beirut, Bari, Hong Kong and Shanghai. The purpose of a diamond certificate is to offer the customer the highest security possible. HRD Antwerp applies the newest technology that allows somebody to check that his diamond corresponds to its certificate. Today you can ask for a laser inscription that is put on the girdle of the precious stone. This inscription carries the stone number that is mentioned on the certificate.

And if this is not sufficient, you can always check that the certificate is original. For that purpose HRD Antwerp has started an internet service. If you visit the HRD Antwerp website (www.hrdantwerp.be) and enter the certificate number of your diamond, you will find your electronic certificate as it is stored in the data base from HRD Antwerp. The data of any diamond graded in the HRD Antwerp Diamond Lab will be kept in the computer memory as long as 10 years.’

HRD Antwerp NV Hoveniersstraat 22 2018 Antwerpen, Belgium Tel: +32 (0)3 222.06.11 Fax: + 32 (0)3 222.06.99 E-mail: info@hrdantwerp.be www.hrdantwerp.be

Best of Belgium

43


Diamonds

The Diamond Museum in Antwerp

© Diamantmuseum/White Light

The Diamond Museum: a BrilliAntwerp Story!

Gaby Tolkowsky, © Diamantmuseum

Dog Collar ‘Hidra’, 2003, bruikleen AWDC

“Cutting a large diamond is hypnotic. You live, sleep and breathe the diamond. It takes over your life.”

44

Best of Belgium

Diamonds and Antwerp have been so closely linked for centuries that the ‘Sinjoren’ (those born and bred in Antwerp) dubbed it ‘t Steentje’ or the Little Stone! Antwerp first acquired name and fame for the Little Stone around 1580, partly thanks to the religious tolerance that prevailed here. However, Antwerp’s definitive development as the diamond region only began at the end of the 19th century, with the mining of new diamond fields in South Africa. In the Diamond Museum, a Province of Antwerp initiative, one discovers how the global character of the ‘t Steentje’ and the profound human emotions attached to it, are the leitmotif of Antwerp’s Brilliant Diamond Story. It is a story of ordinary people and extraordinary events which are condensed in the diamond history of the Province of Antwerp: processing and craftsmanship in the Campine/“Kempen”, trade and commerce in the metropolis. The Diamond Museum provides insight into this wondrous world of the hardest

and most fascinating stone in the world, which can be transformed into a dazzling diamond jewel, brilliantly cut by Antwerp craftsmen: a BrilliAntwerp Story! Antwerp’s diamond cutters are indeed world famous. Like Marcel Tolkowsky (18991991), celebrated for his invention of the ideal brilliant diamond cut in an optimal number of facets, in order to achieve maximum brilliance: a technique which is still used today. And master cutter Gaby Tolkowsky who was invited by the diamond concern De Beers to work on the prestigious Centenary and Golden Jubilee diamonds at the end of the 1980s, a process which took him three years. Antwerp quality and Antwerp cut, synonymous with world-class workmanship and an enviable end product are reflected in the museum by “De Eendracht”, a real diamond cutter’s workshop. This workshop is one of the most important items in the museum’s collection and part of our industrial archaeological heritage. On weekdays,


© Diamantmuseum

the present diamond worker talks about cleaving, cutting and polishing and interactive visual display units demonstrate the latest techniques: scanning diamonds, determining by means of the computer how to polish the diamond to produce the best shape, etc. Besides the diamond story, the visitor is drawn to the treasure chambers spread over three floors where he can find the museum’s unique collection of diamond creations: historic diamond jewels and contemporary diamond jewellery as well as exhibition space! For more than four centuries the diamond has been the jewel par excellence. From the 17th century onwards it was the jewel worn by kings, queens, and the aristocracy and well-off ladies and gentlemen during nightly activities, balls, operas and theatre performances. Until today film stars, sports heroes, exclusive fashion models on the catwalk and pop artists flaunt exclusive but above all eye-catching diamond jewels. Therefore, the evolution of the diamond (as a) jewel is a fascinating story, which is highlighted in the Provincial Diamond Museum in Antwerp. The museum’s jewellery acquisition strategy is based on building up an historic collection of diamond jewels from the 16th century until present times, selected because of their beauty and their art-historical importance. These jewels are not only to be admired for their charisma, they also give evidence of historic bonds between nations and cultures, discoveries of new countries and continents, the influence of religion and royal courts, the historic evolutions and changing traditions and the technological developments in the diamond jeweller’s and silversmith’s craft. Although there are many museums exposing jewels, the Antwerp Diamond Museum is unique in its approach to the historic and contemporary jewel, because it specialises in turning diamonds into diamond jewel designs. An excellent example illustrating the display of unique diamond jewel designs is the result of the biennial HRD Jewellery Award Competition, an organisation by the museum’s partner Diamond High Council www.hrd.be)/ Antwerp World Diamond Centre www.awdc.be). This biennial exhibition is the outcome of an international competition and has been expanded since 2003 to include young as well as experienced jewellery designers. It is widely considered to be the most important competition worldwide for contemporary diamond jewellery. Traditionally the HRD / AWDC offers the winning jewel to the Diamond Museum for inclusion in its collection, thus ensuring that the best creations remain in Antwerp. In 2012, the Antwerp Diamond Museum is celebrating its 40th anniversary (since 1972) as well as 10 years of accommodation at the Queen Astrid Square. These anniversary highlights give rise to an appropriate tribute to ’t Steentje’. The first step is a diamond

Napoleontische parure, bruikleen Kerkfabriek Bazel

testimony, the Wins Family Legacy, five generations of mostly Antwerp diamond business activity, illustrating the city’s inextricable link between, on one hand, the mainly political and economical history of the Antwerp diamond sector and, on the other hand, its social and cultural context.

Diamantmuseum Provincie Antwerpen Koningin Astridplein 19-23 2018 Antwerpen Tel: 32 (0)3 202 48 90 Fax: 32 (0)3 202 48 98 E-mail: info@diamant.provant.be www.diamantmuseum.be

Best of Belgium

45


Diamonds

MeeVIDA Joaillerie, the New International Diamond Jewellery Brand Name

46

Best of Belgium

Trilogy Sortilège set (earrings, pendant and ring)

Sold in high-end jewellery shops across Europe and the U.S.A.

The name MeeVIDA, which phonetically means “my life” in Spanish, represents a diamond’s “eternal essence”, says Piyush Gandhi, CEO of Dianish NV the subsidiary of Navin Gems. “MeeVIDA Joaillerie’s diamond jewellery is designed to accompany its wearer throughout her life.” This idea of enduring for eternity is reflected in the quality of MeeVIDA Joaillerie’s creations. “Dianish NV puts the emphasis as much on the quality of its polished diamonds as in the creation and finishing of its jewellery,” says Piyush Gandhi. One of only 72 Diamond Trading Company SightholderTM worldwide, Navin Gems has been involved in diamond trading for three generations and supplies its largely European customer-base of retailers and smaller jewellers from its headquarters in Bombay, India. Precise finishing, excellent quality as well as the innovative design concept of “timeless avant-garde” allowed Dianish Jewels to rapidly establish its name in prestigious jewellery circles. In 2005 and 2006, the collections did particularly well at Baselworld, the leading annual trade show for the watch and jewellery industry held in Basel, Switzerland. Industry experts then prompted the company to redefine the brand’s strategy in terms of product development, distribution and communication.

The result, MeeVIDA Joaillerie, captures the passion and the essence of eternity of high quality diamond jewellery. MeeVIDA Joaillerie’s creations are designed and styled in Paris by top French jewellery designers and then meticulously produced in India using the latest precision technology and hand-craftsmanship. From Antwerp they are exported to luxury jewellery boutiques worldwide. With prices ranging from €500 upwards, the main markets today are France, the UK, Italy, the Benelux countries and Turkey. Collections MeeVIDA Joaillerie’s latest collections include Amandine, designed by French designer Antonio Gomez, Galaxy, Sortilège, Daisy, Devotion, Empreinte, Mosaique, The Limited Editions of Meevida and Meevida Engagement. Here the designers have modernised MeeVIDA Joaillerie’s classic collection of engagement rings, wedding rings, earrings and pendants in line with the design concept of “timeless avant-garde”. The 2008


Brand store As a result of the overwhelming success of the brand, MeeVIDA Joaillerie opened its first brand store in Budapest, Hungary in December 2006. The launch of MeeVIDA Joaillerie’s Budapest store brought together more than 300 Hungarian VIPs including Miss Hungary 2006, Szabo Kitti, and the famous Hungarian singer Adrienn Zsedenyi, who is the face of MeeVIDA Joaillerie in Hungary. MeeVIDA Joaillerie has a similar brand store in India and the company has plans to open stores in Antwerp, Prague and Warsaw. A significant aspect of the MeeVIDA Joaillerie

The big micro pave heart is from the Galaxy collection, the double row ring in yellow gold is from the new Mosaique collection, on top of it the ring with the micropave ball is from the Galaxy collection and the double hearts is from the Devotion collection.

brand is its link with beauty. MeeVIDA Joaillerie is proud to be associated with beauty pageants such as Miss Belgian Beauty and Miss Benelux and these pageants have been an important and eye-catching way of marketing the brand. As Marilyn Monroe famously said, “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend”. Admiring the glittering diamond jewellery that accentuates the beauty of Miss Belgium 2008 Nele Somers for example, it is easy to see why women have chosen diamonds as a celebration of their glamour and as a form of self-expression throughout the ages. Looking to the future, MeeVIDA Joaillerie’s goal is to be recognised as one of the leading Belgian and European jewellery brand. Combining a wealth of expertise in professional production with a sophisticated marketing approach, which includes providing retailers with complete packages of branded accessories as well as marketing support, MeeVIDA Joaillerie is perfectly positioned to build its brand locally and internationally.

Large Heart necklace from “The Limitied Editions of Meevida”

collection of engagement and wedding rings, which still make up the core of MeeVIDA Joaillerie’s worldwide sales, draws inspiration from the world of love poetry and combines classical elegance with creative innovation. The Galaxy collection, which uses micropave diamonds set with the aid of a microscope, provides an incredibly luxurious, smooth texture which glitters with a wealth of eye-catching tiny diamonds as the smooth lines of the jewellery designs are accentuated. Returning to the eternal theme of love, the Devotion collection comprises heartshaped jewellery and includes some striking pieces, notably the chain of hearts. MeeVIDA Joaillerie’s Limited Editions collection consists of unique jewellery masterpieces. All of the jewellery pieces in the collections are made from 18 carat white or yellow gold set with brilliant cut diamonds. In accordance with the Kimberley Process, all diamonds are certified as being from legitimate sources in no way connected to the funding of conflicts.

Hoveniersstraat 30 Room 625, Box 179 2018 Antwerpen Tel: + (32) 3 226 41 11 Fax: + (32) 3 226 38 54 Email: info@meevida.com www.meevida.com

Best of Belgium

47


Diamonds

The Nordic Fire Diamond Pure beauty – every scintillating Nordic Fire diamond is a small part of the prestigious Nordic Fire brand, recognized and sold around the world

Discerning buyers understand the value of a reputable brand. A brand can speak volumes, guaranteeing quality, craftsmanship, style and professionalism. So it works for jewelry, and so it works for diamonds. When considering a diamond, ask yourself: where does the stone come from? How was the stone selected? Where and by whom was it cut? How do I know the stone is what it is claimed to be? Is it really unique? Enter Nordic Fire… From rough stone… A Nordic Fire diamond begins its journey deep inside the Diavik mine in Canada’s Northwest Territories. The Diavik mine is known for the impeccable quality of its large, colourless stones. The mark of quality begins right at the source, and so it continues. Thus, the mine is operated by the Rio Tinto Diamond Company, one of the world’s most well-regarded

48

Best of Belgium


diamond mining companies. And importantly, as a Canadian mine, it is in an issue-free zone. …to selection and polishing… For over 500 years, Antwerp has been the centre of the world’s diamond trade and this is the next step in a Nordic Fire diamond’s journey. Rough stones are sent direct to Crisdiam, one of Antwerp’s most reputable diamond companies. This Antwerp diamond company has a proud diamond tradition, with a reputation for knowledge, passion and integrity. Founded in 1970, with the original families still at the helm today, this company can trace its polishing activities in Antwerp back to 1898. Here in Antwerp, the Nordic Fire diamond is selected and subsequently cut and polished by Crisdiam’s master craftsmen. In an age where much of the diamond craft has become semi-industrialised in Asia, the

Nordic Fire stone is handled by only the very best professionals in Antwerp. These expert craftsmen continue a centuries-old tradition, working painstakingly to reveal the true beauty of the stone. …to the half Maple leaf: the mark of quality The finishing touch for any Nordic Fire diamond is to laser-inscribe a half Maple leaf and individual identification number on its girdle. Invisible to the naked eye, this identification number means you can verify its authenticity as a genuine Nordic Fire diamond. For example, you can enter this number into the Nordic Fire website to verify it is a genuine Nordic Fire diamond and access other information about it. Also, every diamond is dual certified: first by our own rigorous quality appraisal and then independently by the Geomological Institute of America.

This is the Nordic Fire diamond. From when the rough stone is plucked from the earth until Nordic Fire’s half Maple leaf is inscribed on a polished gem, the Nordic Fire diamond only ever know the highest standards of diamond excellence. It is these standards that instill pure beauty into every Nordic Fire diamond.

Crisdiam B.V.B.A. Hoveniersstraat 2 Box 240, Suite 1201 2018 Antwerp, Belgium Tel: +32 3 233 6559 E-mail: info@nordicfire.be www.nordicfire.be

Best of Belgium

49


Diamonds

Pinchasi & Sons Pinchasi is a second-generation family company that has been operating in the diamond industry in Belgium for 40 years. It is one of the largest diamond cutters in the world, and one of the only ones who still has a working factory in the cosmopolitan, multicultural city of Antwerp.

The diamond cutting process is a fascinating and exacting one. Rough diamonds all have to be cut and polished before being certified by a recognised laboratory. The certification process includes the assessment of the four famous Câ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s clarity, colour, cut and carat weight. The HRD, or Antwerp diamond council, is the largest diamond certification laboratory in Europe, and Pinchasi is a large client of this laboratory. Pinchasiâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Belgium office

50

Best of Belgium

J .

P I N C H A S I

&

S O N S

serves as a clearing-house for all the rough diamonds that they buy and trade. The company always carries a large, centralised stock of cut, polished and certified diamonds which are immediately available in Antwerp, and can be shipped within 24 hours to any destination in the world. This swift response time is vitally important in the fast-moving diamond market. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s all done with a small and flexible team of just 12 people in the Antwerp office, who deal with


sales and operations, including the sorting, preparation and certification of the stones. The company was named after its founder, Mr Pinchasi, and his two sons took over the leadership after his death. The Pinchasi sons have introduced new innovations and developments, including a massive new diamond cutting operation in India, which was opened seven years ago and is ten times as big as the Antwerp factory. The large quantities of medium sized stones

are cut and polished in India, while the bigger, more complex stones are handled in Antwerp. Since the opening of the Indian factory, turnover has doubled. Pinchasi also does business online - orders can be taken, certification can be consulted, and stones can be assessed online via their certification. The companyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s market is mainly in Europe and Asia, although sales are also made in Australia and the Americas. 70% of clients are jewellery manufacturers, and the others are wholesalers. The company has enjoyed a 30year relationship with many of its customers. Quality is the benchmark when dealing with a high value commodity like diamonds. Diamond cutting is a specialised profession that requires years of experience, and mistakes simply cannot be made. If quality is not upheld in all processes, then a poor cut can ruin a promising stone, or certification can become difficult to obtain. At Pinchasi, standards are adhered to rigidly, both in Antwerp and in the operation in India. The companyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s service excellence also gives it a valuable edge in the industry. Finally, maximum efficiency is the key to Pinchasiâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s success, giving it a 2-3% price differential in this fiercely competitive market. It is surprising that, in an industry where valuable stones worth millions of dollars are traded every day, most business is done on a simple handshake, without any contracts or insurance. For this reason, trust is key, and only companies who nurture relationships with their clients and operate

with the highest standards of integrity, quality, service, advice and deal making, will survive. Pinchasi is an outstanding example of such a company. Although the salespeople do regular business with their long-established clientele, they will usually meet them only once a year, either in Antwerp or at the trade fair which takes place annually in Basel, Switzerland - the largest expo in the world for the diamond and jewellery industry. Pinchasi believes that Antwerp will remain the diamond centre of the world, despite competition from low-cost operations in other countries. Antwerp is a city well adapted to the multicultural world of diamond dealing where many different nationalities rub shoulders with each other. The diamond area is centralised and accessible, and security is excellent. Most significantly, Antwerp has a history of diamond cutting and dealing that stretches back hundreds of years. When all is said and done, diamonds are a people business, and this diamond culture cannot be easily replicated elsewhere.

Schupstraat 1/7 2018 Antwerpen Belgium Tel: +32 3 231 21 47 Fax: +32 3 232 63 97 E-mail: Info@pinchasi.com www.pinchasidiamonds.com

Best of Belgium

51


Diamonds

L&A Jewellery Dazzles the World Creating the intricate and striking designs which make up the L&A collections requires a blend of superior technology and delicate handiwork.

52

Best of Belgium


When the twins Louis and August (L&A) Van Camp founded their internationally renowned jewellery business L&A Jewellers in Antwerp’s diamond district in 1967, they set a standard for dazzling, innovative and premium quality jewellery which has endured for more than 40 years. L&A Jewellers, the last remaining familyrun jewellery business in Antwerp that still does all stages of the production process in-house, has a well-deserved reputation for striking luxury jewellery. The Van Camp family has a lasting passion for jewellery design manufacture. And the business continues to be run by the founders’ eleven children. Myriam Van Camp is L&A’s general manager while her sister Hilde is the company’s chief designer. L&A’s position within the heart of Antwerp’s diamond district, the centre of the global diamond industry, provides the means and the daily inspiration for their successful business. Antwerp’s diamond district is home to almost 400 jewellery workshops, boasts 12,000 expert diamond cutters and

Seven days ring

polishers and that accounts for over 50% of the world diamond trade. It is here that jewellery retailers come to source their diamonds. In such a highly competitive environment, jewellery firms continually challenge each other to remain at the cutting edge of the latest and most effective design and manufacturing technology. The latest jewellery design software with 3-D modelling enables L&A’s designers to create intricate and complex pieces with astonishing accuracy and in a remarkably short space of time. In the current collections, Scented Garden and The Full Circle, the work is extremely fine and complex, necessitating state-of-the-art machine-work combined with personal craftsmanship. While the emphasis is on the production of the latest collections, L&A’s designers are able to create one-off pieces at individual request. Customers are encouraged to provide their own sketches or pictures which Hilde and her design team can then translate into inspirational designs. L&A’s latest collections are particularly striking. The Scented Garden, a range of exquisite flower designs, takes its inspiration from the extraordinary and delicate beauty of the floral kingdom while The Full Circle consists of a series of strikingly original and attractive circular designs. All designs are made with 18 carat gold or 95% platinum, which provides a luxurious, high-quality product. Myriam Van Camp says that they would rather use more gold than credited in order to ensure a premium product. The company’s commitment to superior quality has resulted in international recognition and accolades. L&A is the only Belgian Made jewellery company to have a regular stand at the most prestigious professional diamond fair on the global calendar, the Basel World

Fair in Switzerland. They are also one of only a handful of jewellery design companies that have a Swiss carat certification stamp of approval upfront, a certification required for jewellery exports to Switzerland. L&A designed one of the Queen of Morocco’s jewel necklaces for the royal wedding in 2002. Another honour was being selected in 1986 for the design and manufacture of the music industry’s prestigious “Diamond Award,” this was the first time in history that something of value was given using real diamonds. Diamonds are forever, as the saying goes. Elegant, regal and yet humble, these symbols of beauty, purity and strength are timeless, produced in the earth’s core billions of years ago and prized for their almost magical qualities. As timeless as diamonds are, the designs that accentuate their beauty are more influenced by the ebbs and flows of the world fashion scene. Thus while L&A’s core product has traditionally been the diamond engagement ring, the Van Camps are keen to further enhance their brand by collaborating with international design collections and showcasing their products to discerning jewellery customers worldwide. L&A already has a strong international presence, exporting 50% of their creations around the world, particularly to luxury jewellery stores in the United Kingdom and Ireland. In order to further enhance this reputation and to remain constantly innovative, the Van Camps are looking to take advantage of exciting international design trends. The time is right to showcase the best of Belgian jewellery to the world and to attract more publicity in the upper end of the international jewellery market. Rijfstraat 10 2018 Antwerp Tel: +32 (0)3 233 95 52 Fax: +32 (0)3 226 16 38 www.l-a.be

Best of Belgium

53


Diamonds

Verbruggen Diamonds & Pearls Since 1792, the Verbruggen family has been based in Antwerp, Belgium. They are respected wholesalers and retailers of diamonds, who have since added a second area of expertise to their specialist operation - pearls.

Diamonds and pearls. Two of the most beautiful, sought-after and mysterious substances known to mankind, they are both produced by forces of nature, but in vastly different ways. Diamonds have survived an incredible journey to become the glittering stones we recognise today, a journey that started millions of years ago, deep within the earth, when carbonbearing materials were subjected to immense pressure and high temperature. These forces formed their transparent, crystalline structure which is renowned for its extreme hardness - a diamond is the hardest natural material known to mankind. Cutting and polishing these stones are a fine art that requires high levels of skill. Today, 70% of diamonds around the world come from Antwerp. In a city with a long and noble tradition as the diamond centre of the world, Verbruggen is one of the longest-standing businesses. The family has gained an impressive reputation among their customers and their peers, building and nurturing relationships that in many cases have lasted for decades. In the 1960s, Verbruggen added a second area of expertise to its business pearls. This has proved to be so successful that, today, the company is known as

54

Best of Belgium


â&#x20AC;&#x153;the pearls dealerâ&#x20AC;? - an accolade which, in diamond-focused Antwerp, is rare. A pearl is a miracle of nature. Natural pearls are formed when a piece of grit or other irritating object gets inside the shell of a pearl oyster. The oyster deals with this irritation by surrounding the object with layers of beautiful, iridescent nacre. Natural pearls are exceedingly rare, and in order to obtain them, pearl divers must gather and open many hundreds of oysters in the hope of finding just one. Cultured pearls are made on pearl farms, with the help of human intervention. A small bead, usually made from a mussel shell, is placed inside the oyster during a delicate operation. The oyster is then returned to the water for six months or more, where it coats this nucleus with shimmering nacreous layers. The value of the resulting pearl is determined by a combination of its lustre, colour, size, flawlessness and symmetry. Generally, the larger the pearl, the more valuable it is, and pearls that are large and perfectly round are rare and highly valued. Colour also plays an important part. White and black are the most popular colours for pearls, but they can have a variety of shades, from pink to blue, from champagne to purple. Matching pearls according to their colour and shape is an

intricate art, and it can take years to source the pearls for a perfectly matched necklace. Verbruggen imports pearls directly from their source in countries like Australia, Tahiti, China and Japan. The Verbruggen family design their own jewellery creations, and manufacture almost all of these themselves in their Antwerp workshop. While the collections are classics in their own right, they are inspired by modern jewellery trends. New creations are constantly being produced, on average 50 to 100 pieces a week. Some of these are crafted for retailers, who enjoy longstanding relationships with Verbruggen and return time and time again for the exceptional value, quality and first class service that this company is famous for. Verbruggen also sells directly to consumer clients, and produces pieces for its own collections.

VERBRUGGEN Parels & Juwelen Vestingstraat 49 2018 Antwerpen, Belgium Tel: 32 (0)3 231 21 29 Fax: 32 (0)3 231 14 51 E-mail: verbruggen-parels@telenet.be www.parelsverbruggen.com

Best of Belgium

55


Diamonds

Les Bijoux de Marie-France Wear jewellery with elegance

“I love mixing different materials” says Marie-France. Marie-France has been working in the family jewellery business for the past 20 years, contributing with her very personal touch in updating, transforming and innovating the jewellery line. In 2002, she decided to create her own line: “Marie-France’s jewellery”. The artist transforms gold into pieces of jewellery that a lady can wear during the day with her casual clothes or at night with an evening dress. She offers every woman a pleasure to wear whenever and wherever she wants. The true love of precious materials The workshop is hidden in an old house

56

Best of Belgium


in the centre of Brussels. Here, talented craftsmen shine the precious metal, again and again, and shape it under the direction of the designer Marie-France. Marie-France’s collection of jewellery offers the woman of today full elegance and originality. Gold is worked to become as soft as silk, pearls of all colours wind around the body with elegance, and the result is a modern but not too eccentric design. The design is not only a piece of accessory but a part of the woman’s look. Marie-France’s collection Only 18 carats gold is used and is polished, beaten, shaped, heated to create different colours and unusual aspects. The colour of gold becomes yellow, pink, pearly or

grey. The collection includes earrings, bracelets, rings and pendants. The pendants are hanging from leather chains that give them a modern and contemporary look with lighter effect, therefore easier to wear. This new collection is booming with its beauty and femininity. “Les Ecailles”, “Les Constellations”, “Les Torsadés”, “Les Caviars”

wants more than just a set of precious jewels and therefore makes her creations truly unique. Marie-France takes part in many artistic activities but her concerns are not only to introduce her creations. She also has humanitarian goals, such as the ULB exhibition gathering several artists for the ASBL of JeanClaude Heuson and for the Institut Bordet’s Breast Cancer Research Department.

A real success Marie-France’s collection was presented during the “Journées d’ Elégance et Prestige” and at several exhibitions in Brussels, New York, London, Milan, Madrid and Paris and received a real success. In addition to her infallible made-to-measure technique, Marie-France knows that a woman

Les Bijoux de Marie-France 63 Rue de Houblon 1000 Bruxelles – Belgium Tel: +32 (0)2/511 32 98 Email: lesbijouxdemariefrance@skynet.be www.lesbijouxdemariefrance.com

Best of Belgium

57


Food is an important part of a balanced diet. Fran Lebowitz (1950 - )


Chapter 3 Speciality Foods


Speciality Foods

Belgian Beer Weekend At the end of the summer The Belgian Brewers’ association and the ‘Chevalerie du Fourquet des Brasseurs’, in collaboration with the City of Brussels organizes the BELGIAN BEER WEEKEND at the Brussels’ Grand’Place.

Many small, medium-sized and large Belgian breweries will present to you their best selections of beers. Entrance is free and beer prices are very democratic! ... Breweries will be present! Perhaps you are a confirmed beer lover or you are keen on tasting something new. Or maybe you honestly never realized that

60

Best of Belgium

Belgium boasts the largest range of distinctly different beers and labels in the world. Or then again you could wish to have a pleasant chat with the brewer of your favorite beer. And you like spending time in pavement cafés, so the idea of sipping a delicious glass of Belgian beer on the most beautiful Market Place in the world sounds very


tempting. Belgium offers a unique range of beers having the most contrasting tastes and flavors. Nowhere else in the world you can find a larger choice of regional, authentic and colorful beers.

www.weekenddelabiere.be

Best of Belgium

61


Speciality Foods

Royal-quality Belberry Preserves makes money for jam From west Flanders to the world’s elite, Belberry Preserves is the story of a small-scale jam-maker turned top luxury food exporter.

When Andre Vandererfven, a small-scale delicatessen owner in the medieval west Flemish town of Kortrijk since 1956, was asked by the local pharmacist’s wife to produce a batch of marmalade according to her family’s ancient recipe, he started a modest production of preserves using traditional methods to sell in his store. His son Thierry took over the business in 1990 and saw an opportunity to expand production and sell further afield. This was the start of a remarkable success story. Since attending his first international trade exhibition in the UK in 2000, Thierry Vandererfven hasn’t looked back. His premium quality products — from royal marmalades and jams to

62

Best of Belgium

fruit syrups, sauces and vinegars – are highly sought-after in exclusive department stores in 20 countries and are personally requested by royalty and nobility. Artisanal production: small is beautiful As Thierry well knows, the secret to excellent preserves is top quality fruit. A wide variety of only the freshest, unblemished fruit is sourced year-round from across the globe, fully processed in-house and carefully crafted according to traditional methods. Small batches of fruit, fine sugars, juice and natural apple pectin (to set the jams where necessary) are boiled in copper urns over an open gas flame and preserved in the time-

honoured way without artificial flavourants or preservatives. This ensures the fresh aromas and exquisite flavours of the ripe fruit are retained in a naturally beautifully, luxurious finish. “The core of what we do is the preservation of fruit,” says Thierry. “Hereditas fructus in posterium.” Traditional and innovative Belberry Preserves is both a traditional and innovative brand. Far from the stuffiness its name might imply, the brand name is actually a play on “Belgian berry”. The refreshingly young but established “feel” of the brand is carried through in exotic flavours such as Morillo Cherry, Seville


Orange, Mango & Maracuja, Rhubarb and Strawberry, Figs & Port and the delicious but still-experimental figs and chocolate. Royal quality Belberry Royal Marmalade, an imaginative assortment of eight citrus-based marmalades, derives its name both from the supreme quality of the fruit and the royal stamp of approval. It has become a tradition that every time Thierry develops a new marmalade, a sample is sent to Queen Paola of Belgium (who is known to love marmalade) for approval. One day Thierry received a call from the Queen’s personal assistant to say that the monarch was delighted with the taste of his products. Since then Belberry Preserves regularly supplies the Belgian monarchy. As befits a royal product, Belberry is also a multiple winner of Tavola and other Fine Food Awards. Select distribution channel While production is small and still done by hand — only 3,000 jars are produced per day — an efficient marketing and distribution channel ensures that these premium products are flown to exclusive department stores across the European Union as well as further afield to America, Hong Kong, Korea and Japan. Elite clients

include the finest department stores all over the world. Thierry’s products also aptly fly First Class, as luxury food items on the in-flight menu of several airlines. With the company expanding at an astonishing 70% a year, Belberry Preserves is clearly making strong inroads into the luxury food market. Following the 2005 trade mission to Japan led by Prince Philippe of Belgium, Thierry and a Japanese partner launched Belberry’s own pilot concept store in midtown Tokyo, which is strategically placed to showcase the brand for the growing Asian market. This store is also an opportunity to promote Belberry’s newer product lines such as sugar-free jams, as well as fruit vinegars, dessert sauces (including three old fashioned syrups: Sweet Elderberry, Canadian Cranberry and Wild Blueberry) which are proving increasingly popular. Attention to quality at all levels of production — from sourcing the freshest and finest fruits and sugars to innovative flavours and products through to a highly efficient marketing and distribution channel — ensures customer satisfaction and brand loyalty. With premium quality as Belberry’s recipe for success, it’s hardly surprising that customers such as the Emir of Qatar, who regularly visits his hunting lodge in the Belgian Ardennes forests, annually request their own personal supply.

Belberry Preserves bvba Doenaertstraat 11 B-8500 Kortrijk – Belgium Tel: +32 56 220 560 Fax: +32 56 221 560 www.belberry.com

Best of Belgium

63


Speciality Foods

Jules Destrooper Quality, authenticity, pure natural ingredients and a never ending passion for biscuits.

After being founded more than 120 years ago, NV Biscuiterie Jules Destrooper is still growing fast. What began as a local business driven by one man, now is a world-wide company with highly appreciated standards. The professional approach may have changed, the original recipes remain untouched from day one. Belgium, second half of the nineteenth century... Driven by passion, Jules Destrooper, a colonial trader, combined the best of the spices he imported from Africa and the East with the best of natureâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s ingredients. Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s how he obtained a very unique flavour for

the almond thin, a delicate biscuit that was to please generations of people all over the world. In that way, in 1886, the biscuiterie Jules Destrooper was founded. Driven by the success of his product and by his natural talent, Jules Destrooper worked out his own recipe of a traditional Belgian butter wafer, which he successfully launched on the Belgian market in 1890. In 1911 the almond thin was rewarded with the prestigious golden award at the famous food show in Paris. Jules Destrooper, motivated by this international recognition, continued his efforts to improve the quality of his products. Several other national and international awards stimulated a first

PURVEYOR TO THE BELGIAN ROYAL HOUSEHOLD


selective export of the products. The art of preserving the quality and the freshness of their products was one of the major concerns of the second and third generation of the Destrooper family. By means of an airtight aluminium packing method, the family succeeded in increasing the shelf life of their natural and therefore delicate products to up to nine months. This of course enabled the first step to world-wide export. From then on, gastronomes from the four corners of the world could enjoy the unique freshness, the delicate flavour and the crispiness of the original Jules Destrooper biscuits. Moreover, in this period, a third delicious biscuit was baked: a sister of the butter wafer, the Paris wafer or butter crumble. Today, the Jules Destrooper biscuits are the pride of the 4th generation. The biscuits are still based on the secret family recipe, as Jules Destrooper developed it. More than 120 years of experience

naturally involve a lot of changes, the modern computer-aided production methods guarantee optimal quality and hygiene, but the founderâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s original recipes will never be changed. Just as they were in 1886, Jules Destrooper biscuits are completely free of any kind of artificial colouring, flavouring or preservatives. Each biscuit is the honest product of our sustained desire to offer the best biscuits from creamery butter, fresh eggs, flour and selected sugars. This youngest generation can also be very proud of a brand new line of chocolate covered biscuits. Several new biscuits have come to please all gastronomes: the Florentines with Almonds and Nuts, the Hazelnut Florentines with Crispy Rice (since 1991), and the Cinnamon Biscuits enrobed with chocolate (since 1993). Each of these fine biscuits contain nothing but original natural ingredients of highest quality such as Valencia Almonds, Cinnamon from Indonesia (class 1) and the purest Belgian chocolate.

Biscuiterie Jules Destrooper Gravestraat 5 8647 LO Belgium Tel: +32 58 28 80 41 Fax: +32 58 28 93 82 E-mail: info@destrooper.be www.destrooper.be

Best of Belgium

65


Speciality Foods

BBCW - The Art of Blending Tradition and Excellence BBCW (Best Belgian Chocolate of the World) is a young, non-profit-making association that aims to promote the know-how of Belgian Master Confectioners who perpetuate the purest handicraft tradition of chocolate making.

66

Best of Belgium


To take Belgium’s image to the highest level, BBCW has selected the most authentic ambassadors of handicraft Belgian chocolate from among the many potential craftsmen in the country. A Unique Approach The approach of BBCW consists of four complementary challenges. 1. Back to basics: paying homage to the demanding work of the small producers and pickers. The origins of chocolate are to be found in the pre-Columbian world, when Christopher Columbus accomplished his fourth expedition in 1502. However, the beans of cacao trees have historically been cultivated in Africa. Today there is broader diversification into Brazil and Malaysia, following the introduction of vegetable fat other than cocoa butter. BBCW intends to pay homage to the work of all those who have devoted their efforts to cultivating, according to the rulebook, these trees that are so demanding and so delicate to maintain. This is why the original rules are so important to us today. Paying homage to the demanding work of the cacao bean growers and pickers constitutes our first priority. 2. A chocolate that respects fair trade In this current era of globalisation, the trend is to maximise the middlemen’s margins and the distributors’ profit. At the beginning of the chain, the picker and his family often work under precarious conditions, with no safety net, and are subject to the vicissitudes of stock market prices. At the end of the chain, the praline creators have to compete with lower-cost industrial products, which forces them to become ever more ingenious in a highly competitive climate. Our approach consists of demanding that, throughout the chain, from the producer to master craftsman, ethics are given their proper place. The small producers and the pickers must benefit from fair remuneration, which allows them and their families to enjoy a dignified life.

3. A chocolate of quality Following the debate inspired by the European directive on the quality of chocolate products, chocolate lovers have come to understand that authentic chocolate and pralines must observe certain golden rules in terms of quality. 4. A typically Belgian chocolate: guarantee of total quality Five objective reasons justify the reputation of Belgian chocolate and pralines. The quality of the beans used in Belgium is excellent. Special care is lavished on the roasting and grinding in order to ensure an exceptional finish. The quality of the ingredients that make up the chocolate, such as the sugar, is extremely high. The minimum cacao level is 43% or even higher, which confers an incomparable quality on Belgian chocolate products. Finally, our great and small craftsmen have a love of their trade that results in truly particular originality and care. 5. Creating unity within diversity: ensuring a plural trademark Belgium is famous around the world for its chocolate. The country’s history includes many chocolate industrialists who have developed dynamic economic activities and product lines. Thanks to the enterprising spirit of those 20th-century pioneers, chocolate has become one of the emblematic products of Belgian gastronomy, and one that is developed in all of the country’s three regions. BBCW’s originality lies in its ability to bring craftsmen together with the common aim of celebrating Belgian’s diversity of pralines, combining differences of taste and a mouth-watering marriage of flavours. Chocolate is an extraordinary image vector and a powerful symbol of luxury and pleasure. Let us make sure that, through BBCW, our craftsmen are able to further their knowledge and hone their skills both in Belgium and abroad.

Discover our philosophy in images on: www.bbcw.be

Best of Belgium

67


Speciality Foods

Godiva Chocolatier – Passion for Chocolate

Godiva’s History This is the true story of a chocolatier whose legendary name has become a symbol of luxury the world over. It all started in the 1920s in Brussels where the Draps family founded a chocolate and sweet-making workshop. Their “pralines”, typical Belgian filled chocolates, were made for large shops which in those days were highly fashionable. At the age of fourteen, Joseph Draps joined the family business. It was there that he developed both his ability and creative talent as a Maître Chocolatier as well as his business sense. He then decided to create a luxury range of chocolates and to give it an evocative name.

68

Best of Belgium


He chose Godiva, for its international recognition factor and the evocation of the legend of Lady Godiva. If you remember the legend; when Lady Godiva, wife of Lord Leofric, protested against the excessive taxation of his subjects a deal was struck: Lady Godiva would ride through the streets of Coventry, “clad in naught but her long tresses,” and if the population remained in shuttered houses, their tax burden would be lifted. The following morning she made her famous ride, the citizens graciously stayed inside and Leofric kept his word and reduced the taxes. Lady Godiva won the hearts of many and her legend has continued to deepen throughout the centuries. Nowhere is her passion, purity, sensuality, style and boldness more symbolised than in a tantalising box of Godiva chocolates which in turn are sure to win the hearts of all those who taste them. The crest of Lady Godiva has quite naturally found its place amongst the gold and splendour of the Grand-Place in Brussels, a huge backdrop against which Godiva opened one of their most prestigious boutiques in 1956. Success was not far off. Godiva expanded throughout Belgium. And soon the first shops were opening abroad. In the Rue SaintHonoré in Paris in 1958 and, in 1966, on Fifth Avenue in New York.

Godiva’s Chocolate Over 80 different chocolate varieties comprise Godiva’s gourmet range; all made using fresh, natural ingredients carefully selected by Godiva; the choice of cocoa beans, the degree of roasting, the fineness of grinding, the purity and the homogeneity of the chocolate paste, which is refined by conching. The Godiva ingredients The enrobing chocolate, dark, milk or white is specially prepared for Godiva following our own recipe. Despite the relaxation of rules in the new European directive, Godiva uses only chocolate made from 100% cocoa butter. Without vegetable fats. Real chocolate! The fillings - fine creams, delicate marzipan, fruit and nuts - are prepared in the mixers in the Godiva kitchens. Only genuine, fresh products are brought into this workshop, which is the real heart of Godiva quality. Fresh butter and real cream are delivered several times a week. And the hint of alcohol, notably in the fresh cream pralines, comes from top brand liqueurs and three stars Cognac. The praline is always made in-house. This is one of the Godiva strong points. Turkish hazelnuts, selected and calibrated to give an even roasting, are heated to develop their aroma and peeled to avoid any bitterness. Cooled, they are mixed with an equal quantity of sugar, then heated again and caramelised.

Ground between two enormous granite millstones, they then pass between cylinders, which grind them even more finely to just 20 microns in size. The powder and the oil from the grinding are mixed to form the praline paste- smooth and sweet smelling. The nougatine is also made in a traditional way at Godiva. Roasted, crushed nuts are mixed with a sugar caramel without adding water. This preparation is rolled out on a marble table and cooled. Broken into little squares using a caramel roller, it will be used to create, for example, a taste contrast between the crispness and the creaminess of certain fillings prepared in Godiva kitchen. Today, the recipes of the founder and the freshness of totally natural ingredients remain the secret of Godiva quality and have been rewarded with an appointment as official supplier to the Royal Court of Belgium. Godiva’s passion for chocolate innovation and luxury combined with a truly memorable experience contained in each mouthful has made legendary.

5 Rue de l’Armistice B-1081 Brussels – Belgium Tel: + 32 2 422 17 11 Fax: + 32 2 422 18 62 www.godiva.be

Best of Belgium

69


Speciality Foods

Barry Callebaut: The Heart and Soul of the Chocolate Industry As the world’s leading innovator in cocoa and chocolate products, Barry Callebaut’s research efforts are all about ‘going back to the bean’: translating the natural properties of this remarkable fruit into new and exciting products for the new millennium.

The name ‘Callebaut’ has been synonymous with Belgium’s renowned tradition for fine chocolate making for over 150 years, its celebrated chocolate has been the ingredient of choice for the country’s top praline houses. When Callebaut merged with its French counterpart, Cacao Barry in 1996, it succeeded in complementing its own extensive experience in production and marketing with Cacao Barry’s expertise in procurement and cocoa processing. Since that time, Barry Callebaut has grown to become the world’s leading manufacturer of high-quality cocoa and

70

Best of Belgium

chocolate for the global food industry, mastering every step of the production process from sourcing the finest beans to tempering the finished chocolate. Global presence Barry Callebaut’s primary production and research facility in Wieze, Belgium is the largest chocolate factory in the world. Barry Callebaut is present in 25 countries, and operates about 40 production facilities around the globe. This global network of production sites spanning Europe, Africa, North and South America and Asia, coupled


with a strong commitment to research and development, has enabled Barry Callebaut to answer the diverse needs and varying consumer preferences of a wide spectrum of the global food industry. Barry Callebaut’s sales of over €2.5 billion last financial year therefore include industrial food manufacturers, professional artisanal users (such as chocolatiers, pastry chefs and bakers) and retailers. The company also provides a comprehensive range of services for its customers in the fields of product development, processing, training and marketing. Customer focus As the driving force of the world’s chocolate and confectionary industry, Barry Callebaut aims to be the number one producer in every major customer segment, in every major market throughout the world. Barry Callebaut’s strength is derived from a passion for chocolate spanning more than 150 years and the constantly evolving heritage of knowledge and expertise it implies. Barry Callebaut’s diverse range of products and applications along with its long tradition of innovation and product development make it the preferred partner of an equally diverse range of customers from individual artisans to industrial manufacturers and global retailers. “Our focus at Barry Callebaut has always been to generate growth for our customers; helping them to develop, produce and market new products for the enjoyment of consumers the world over,” says Hans Vriens, Chief Innovation Officer at Barry Callebaut. As a result, the company now boasts around 1700 different recipes along with proven expertise in the field of customized product development. The fact that Barry Callebaut continues to outgrow the global chocolate market by 2 to 1 is further proof of the success of its overall strategy. A tradition of innovation Barry Callebaut’s innovation strategy is founded on three main pillars: health & wellness, experience & indulgence and convenience. Barry Callebaut’s Acticoa™ chocolate and cocoa powder is just one example of ‘going back to the bean’. Acticoa™ is the outcome of years of research aimed at preserving and enhancing the function of cocoa polyphenols, the most powerful antioxidants known to man. “Antioxidants are thought to play a major role in several areas of human health from cardiovascular health and immune

response to brain function,” explains Hans Vriens. “Acticoa™ is the only chocolate with a guaranteed minimum polyphenol content and is also one of the richest known sources of antioxidants.” Other innovations aimed at improving the permissibility of chocolate include a sugar reduced and fibre enriched chocolate which succeeds in improving the nutritional profile of chocolate without the use of artificial additives. Intensive research at Barry Callebaut has also resulted in a probiotic chocolate as well as the world’s first sugarbased tooth-friendly chocolate. Best of all, Barry Callebaut’s healthy chocolate range has the same great taste, texture and mouth feel as conventional chocolate. In fact, Barry Callebaut is always looking for ways to enhance that celebrated chocolate experience even further. For instance, because of its presence in origin countries the company, can offer the widest selection of single-origin chocolates in the world. Embodying the unique

characteristics and flavours of specific cocoa varieties and growing regions, these singleorigin chocolates represent the very pinnacle of indulgence. Other innovations including the world’s first soluble cocoa powder along with non-chocolate derivatives such as brewing agents, fat-free frying products and even cosmetics and skincare products have firmly established Barry Callebaut not only as the global leader in research and development but as the very heart and soul of the cocoa and chocolate industry.

Barry Callebaut NV Aalstersestraat 122 9280 Lebbeke-Wieze Belgium Tel:+32 53 73 02 11 Fax:+32 53 78 04 63 E-mail: info@barry-callebaut.com www.barry-callebaut.com www.acticoa.com

Best of Belgium

71


Speciality Foods

Duc d’O Chocolaterie – Belgium at its Best In a country where a certain ‘joie de vivre’ is all-important, chocolate logically became one of its most well-known ambassadors. Indeed, it comes as no surprise that Belgian chocolate conquered the world and stole the hearts of so many. Over the last 25 years, one of Belgium’s main producers and exporters has been Duc d’O Chocolaterie.

Irresistible jewels… In 1983, Mr. Hendrik Verhelst, a keen chocolate lover, made his dream come true when he founded his own chocolate production company, Duc d’O Chocolaterie.

72

Best of Belgium

Immediately from the start, his mission was to provide consumers with high quality products at an affordable price. A clear and simple strategy that paid off, as he saw double digit growth almost every year. At the

present time, his son, Mr. Paul-Henri Verhelst has taken over the reigns, leading Duc d’O Chocolaterie firmly into the 21st century. In the Belgian plant at Kruibeke (Antwerp region), a dedicated team of 120 employees


produce daily 30 tons of chocolate products. Star players are the famous Duc d’O truffles, pralines and mini pralines. But also the liqueur pralines, sea-shells, hearts, Easter chocolates, bars and tablets are much loved by consumers. Over the last decade, an expansive export-network has been rolled out. Today it covers the entire globe as 80% of the Duc d’O production is exported to over 80 countries, with Belgium however remaining the most important market. Quality as main priority Ever since the founding days of the company, the Verhelst family set very high quality standards. When it comes to finding the right cocoa-beans, selecting the best batches of hazelnuts and almonds or defining the bespoke couverture-chocolate, ‘maître-chocolatier’ Guido Vandeperre has an unequalled reputation and a rare amount of knowledge and inspiration. As one of the last large family-owned chocolate producers, Duc d’O Chocolaterie takes pride in making all of its fillings inhouse. Truffle cream, praliné, caramel, pistachio, marzipan, mocha and others are all based on recipes which have proven their success over the years. Of course, Duc d’O chocolates are 100% cocoa butter, 100% natural, 100% authentic and thus 100% Belgian. Duc d’O Truffles – a unique chocolate The most well-known star product of Duc d’O is its flaked truffle. Thanks to a unique procedure where the interior filling is aired to create a light and mousse effect, millions of this savoury and typically Belgian chocolate are sold all over the world. Continuing innovation resulted in new varieties such as dark-orange and cappuccino, which were added to the classic existing truffles made from milk -, dark - and white chocolate. After 25 years, the company is proud to say that of every two truffles sold in Belgium, one comes from Duc d’O! Duc d’O Assorted Pralines Duc d’O Assorted Pralines is a true classic. Existing for over 20 years, this range of chocolates remains unchanged due to its overwhelming success. Fillings such

as caramel, praliné, crisp, marzipan, hazelnut or mocha are combined with the finest milk, dark or white couverturechocolate. Consumers can choose the traditional ‘ballotin”-packaging or the more modern flat-box, both designed in the characteristic Duc d’O colours and layout. Eight years ago, Duc d’O Chocolaterie was the first producer worldwide to introduce its range of Mini-Pralines. These products were the perfect answer to growing consumer demand for small, snack-size chocolates. Today, the Mini Pralines account for a daily production of 3,5 tons. We can safely state that, with the creation of this product, Duc d’O has set a visionary benchmark. Duc d’O and Belgium “As one of our country’s most important chocolate producers, Duc d’O takes pride in being a truly Belgian product.”, says CEO Paul-Henri Verhelst. “Being able to participate in this beautiful book is for us a perfect opportunity to showcase our products to the world. In my opinion, ‘made in Belgium’ is synonymous for quality, innovation and indulgence. The Duc d’O team and myself are continuously working to make sure Belgium remains the point of reference in the chocolate industry. Quite simply because it is!”.

Duc d’O Chocolaterie Bazelstraat 250 B-9150 Kruibeke Belgium Tel: +32 3 774 51 91 Email: info@ducdo.com www.ducdo.com

Best of Belgium

73


Pralibel

Pralibel steps up to the big league of Belgian chocolatiers

The “super league” of big-name Belgian chocolatiers is

production has risen to keep pace with demand, annual

facing a new player in its ranks with the recent unveiling

revenue has shot up to over 10 million euros from an

of specialist praline producer Pralibel’s restyling of

initial one million euros in 1993. In 2005 Pralibel won the

its premium chocolate range. The quality praline and

Gazelle prize for the fastest-growing SME in the food

chocolate producer from the Jagershoek town of Vichte

sector in Flanders over the past five years.

in Flanders has shown exponential growth in the last 15 years and has now reached a level of maturity where it

Quality and flexibility

is able to step up as a major player on the prestigious

Sulmon attributes his company’s success to being able

Belgian chocolate stage.

to strike a balance between artisanal and industrial production. Pralibel manufactures over 150 different

In a fiercely competitive market in which Belgian

top quality pralines in a semi-artisanal way. While

companies export over one billion euros worth of

chocolate-filling and finishing are done by hand, state-

delicious chocolate to a world market hungry for more,

of-the-art machinery allows for high volume production

Pralibel has been able to make this move on the back of

and a swift response to customer orders.

continued expansion and phenomenal success. The company’s machines are geared for smaller runs (e.g. Fantastic growth

50kg) which facilitates flexible and diverse production.

Pralibel has shown rapid growth from its establishment in

Forty different types of pralines can be produced in

1993. Since general manager Paul Sulmon and a dynamic

any one day and different ranges of pralines, chocolate

team of entrepreneurs took over the established Deleu

figures and packaging are produced to customer

chocolaterie fifteen years ago, they have transformed it

specifications as part of Pralibel’s established private

into a leading producer. The company has grown at an

label business. At peak times they employ more than a

astounding rate, enlarging the size of its factory from

hundred people with staff working longer shifts around

750m in 1993 to 15,000m in 2008 and increasing the

the clock. Orders are dispatched from start to finish

number of people on its payroll five-fold in that time. As

within seven working days.

2

2


With Pralibel’s fine chocolates made from 100% cocoa

requirements. The resulting chocolate is then certified

butter and new types of pralines and packaging being

by the Fairtrade Organisation. Pralibel’s fair trade label

developed all the time, quality remains excellent. Hygiene

won the 2006 Co-op “Fairtrade Product of the Year”

and safety standards are particularly important and the

award in the United Kingdom.

company complies with strict HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points) requirements. Certification is in

Export drive

accordance with the BRC (British Retailers Consortium)

France has traditionally been the most important export

and IFS.

market for Pralibel but their premium chocolates are now

Also, ERP-steered production ensures full

traceability and stringent control mechanisms.

exported within the ‘better channels’ to 40 countries and are present in the markets of Scandinavia, Great Britain,

Fairtrade

Eastern Europe as well as China. Sulmon explains that

In a world market which is increasingly conscious of the

the restyling and repackaging of Chateau Blanc, their

environmental and social aspects of the food industry,

established premium brand for traditional gourmet

Pralibel has introduced its own fair trade chocolate

chocolate boutiques, as ‘Pralibel: Belgian Chocolatier’

range certified under licence of the Max Havelaar

has provided extra impetus to the export drive. Further

Foundation. Paul Sulmon explains that the pressures

momentum has been created by the launch of Pralibel’s

of the chocolate industry often drive the market price

own modern specialty store in Bouillon in the Belgian

of cocoa beans lower than the price of investments

Ardennes.

by producers, who live in poor developing countries, particularly in Africa. To ensure more sustainable producer prices as well as

Jagershoek 21, 8570 Vichte, Belgium

better environmental and social effects, Pralibel has

Tel +32 56 78 80 80

joined forces with producer organisations to ensure

Fax +32 56 78 80 88

better prices for producers who comply with Fair Trade

www.pralibel.be


Speciality Foods

The True Taste of Traditional Pleasure The pleasures of the table hold a very special place in the hearts of Belgians. Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s why the country is becoming renowned the world over as the ultimate food destination. Cockâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Vleeswaren takes pride of place in this reputation, thanks to its unswerving commitment to quality, in both ingredients and production.

76

Best of Belgium


How long does it take to become a tradition? For Cock’s Vleeswaren and the De Cock family, the journey started over 70 years ago, when Charles De Cock first opened his butcher’s shop in the town of St. Niklaas in 1935. After 11 years, Charles expanded his business into a wholesale company with its own production line. His star specialty: a traditionally-prepared cooked ham. His son, Jozef De Cock, followed in his father’s footsteps, opening his own wholesale company – Cock’s Vleeswaren—in 1969. One year later, he took over his father’s production line. As the company’s reputation for traditional, quality meats grew, so did its popularity. To meet demand, the entire company, along with the production, were moved to the Industriepark-Noord, an industrial complex in St. Niklaas, where it can still be found today. The company has stayed in the family, as well, with grandsons Marc and Philippe now at the helm. The company has continued to grow,

and in 2005 the site doubled in size with the building of a new distribution centre. But thanks to the family connection, it has remained true to the original vision of Charles and Jozef De Cock: to use the best ingredients and traditional methods to create the highest quality products. A convincing philosophy For the De Cock’s brothers, the food experience is critical. The product itself must convince the customers, with its exceptional flavour, enticing aroma and inviting appeal. And the only way to ensure this is to put quality first. ‘This is what gives our products that extra, individual touch that distinguishes them from other prepared meats’, explains Marc De Cock. Technology supporting tradition While tradition is key at Cock’s Vleeswaren, it is clear that modern production methods have an important place in ensuring the top quality. The production infrastructure is ultra modern,

Best of Belgium

77


and the production environment highly controlled. However, traditional methods are still used within this infrastructure. Both production and the distribution have been certified entirely with the IFS quality standard. This standard is recognized throughout Europe by all large distribution chains. The strict controls of the system guarantee safe and quality products the whole year through. The new distribution centre, christened Casaventa, became operational in 2005. It uses an automation system unique in the Belgian food industry to stock, control and manage the products to perfection. Even transporting products from one building to another across the street is handled using state-of-the-art technology: using a conveyor belt that goes through a 140 metre long refrigerated bridge!

78

Best of Belgium

Better business, cleaner business As a long-term partner in the community, Cock’s Vleeswaren is also fully committed to meeting its social obligations. It has long been a forerunner in the industry for eco-friendly practices, and has been reusing packaging materials, recuperating waste products and building its own wastewater installations for decades. In January 2000, it became the first meat packing company in Flanders to put the AEP (Waste and Emission Prevention) into practice. By doing so, waste and energy usage, as well as waste disposal, are kept to a bare minimum. People make the business Despite the technological advances, Cock’s Vleeswaren remains a people’s business. Every staff member is an essential part of the production process. ‘We’ve set up our


structure to encourage responsibility and idea generation’, explains De Cock. ‘When people are inspired, you can taste the difference’. And at Cock’s Vleeswaren you can. Over the years, the product range has grown to meet the needs of the other important people the company works with: its customers. The company’s specialties include its highest quality, traditional Golden Hams, its range of extra sweet salted horse meat, its ‘boerenpatés’: farm-style pâtés that –unique among boerenpatés - are spreadable, and much more. Always moving a step ahead While the company’s name itself represents its history in the meat industry, Cock’s Vleeswaren knows that there are many other food experiences that can benefit from its ‘quality first’ motto. The range has therefore expanded far beyond just cold meats, into specialties, cheeses and more. Among the biggest evolutions was the 2003 launch of the company’s range of prepacked meats under the Cock’s Fresh label. ‘This range reflects the strong demand we saw in the market to combine the highest quality products with modern methods of prepackaging’, says De Cock. ‘We only use our own products, which are freshly sliced and immediately packaged. The range was very quickly successful!’ Under the Cock’s Fresh brand, the company has been able to expand both sales

channels and product groups. It now includes cold meats, prepared salads and spreads, ready-made meals and sausages and snacks. Cock’s Vleeswaren also launched a range of Italian-style salami, branded as ‘Casadoro’. ‘We always try to stay in line with what our customers want and need’, continues De Cock. For example, we’ve even introduced a large range of gluten-free products. And while legally, products labelled ‘gluten-free’ can actually contain small amounts of gluten (up to 20 mg of gluten per 100 g) our ‘glutenfree’ items are 100% without gluten! It’s just another example of how we always put the customer first’. Thanks to its clear vision and philosophy, this company that started out as a local butcher’s shop, has evolved into a true,

home-grown Belgian success story, annually earning €65 million in revenue and producing 4 million kg of food. And as long as Belgians retain their taste for quality, this company is poised to move from success to success!

Cock’s Vleeswaren Industriepark-Noord 14 B-9100 Sint-Niklaas BTW BE 0444.853.876 RPR Dendermonde Tel: +32 (0)3 760 12 50 Fax: +32 (0)3 778 06 27 E-mail: info@cocks.be www.cocks.be www.cocksfresh.be

Best of Belgium

79


To be able to fill leisure intelligently is the last product of civilization, and at present very few people have reached this level.

Š www.douglasmoors.be

Bertrand Russell (1872 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; 1970)


Chapter 4 Dining and Hospitality


Dining and Hospitality

Expo 58 and Other Must-see 2008 Events in Belgium

© Etienne De Graeve

One of the highlights of 2008 is Expo58, which celebrates the 50th anniversary of the year that Brussels hosted its landmark World Fair and emerged as the modern capital of Europe.

Expo58 In April 1958, the first World Fair of the postwar period was enthusiastically inaugurated in Brussels in an atmosphere of optimism, scientific progress and peace. In 2008, the city celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Brussels 1958 World Fair with a whole range of year-long events, exhibitions, guided tours and festivities which underline the importance of this event in Brussels’ history. This was the year that Brussels shook off its image of provincialism to become a modern capital of Europe which was to provide a home to the new European institutions. The most powerful symbol of the 1958 World Fair is of course the Atomium, the 102-

82

Best of Belgium

metre high “giant steel balls in the sky” which has become synonymous with Brussels. Representing an iron molecule magnified 165 billion times, the structure is a striking piece of architecture which manages to be both historic and avant-garde at the same time. It is a tribute to the Atomic Age and reminds us that the splitting of the atom, which ushered in the era of nuclear weapons and nuclear power, was a defining image of the cold-war generation. The Atomium’s designer, Andre Waterkeyn, commented a month before its completion that it was “the symbol of our age, when scientists have greatly expanded our knowledge of matter”. This matter, he said,

is condensed energy “which, if the people themselves so wish, can be used for the greater well-being of our civilisation”. Renovated between 2004 and 2006, the Atomiums’s 9 spheres have since attracted more than a million visitors and are one of the tourism highlights of Brussels. Architecturally, the 1958 Expo was characterised by many other groundbreaking designs which abandoned the symmetries of the pre-war years and used oblique lines and curves, walls of glass, smooth and coloured materials as well as tensile structures and hyperbolic shells. The ‘58 Expo was also a celebration of emerging consumer culture and opened people’s eyes


Cityscape “Cityscape reflects a moment frozen in time, an instant,” says Belgian artist Arne Quinze, the creator of an 18-metre high giant sculpture of tangled wood that is on display for a year in Uptown Brussels’ Quartier Louise. The sculpture, which is 40 metres long and 25 metres wide, rests upon 12metre high wooden stilts and will be drawing curious onlookers until September 2008. Quinze says that his sculpture was designed to be a “place of introspection, silence and interaction”. One of a series of giant wooden structures (the previous one was built in the Nevada desert in 2006), Cityscape is deliberately open to interpretation and is built in a way that encourages observer interaction. The

sculpture was partly sponsored by the Brussels Louise Association and reflects the regeneration of Uptown Brussels. Ghent Festivities Once a wealthy medieval city and the secondlargest city in Europe after Paris, Ghent has been called one of the most beautiful historic cities in Europe. This historic heart of Flanders hosts its annual Ghent Festivities for ten days in September with an enormous festival which includes a parade, international music, dance, theatre and puppetry festivals, fireworks displays and other free events. More than one and half million people attend every year to bask in the wealth of cultural activities. The festival was started in the middle of the 19th century to attract prosperous people to the city. From horse races, jousts, tournaments, hot air balloons and parades of giants, the festivities have gone through numerous changes before arriving at the format they have today. Four separate festivals make up the current programme — the Blue Note Records jazz festival, the international street theatre festival, an international puppet-buskers festival and the dance festival 10 Days Off. Scattered around the picturesque city, the festivities attract a range of internationally-renowned theatre companies, jazz and contemporary musicians and puppeteers. Ghent’s city centre offers numerous places of interest. From St Michael’s bridge there is a wonderful view of the Ghent skyline with the three impressive towers of St Nicholas’ Church, the bell tower and St Bavo’s cathedral with its famous painting “The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb” by Jan van Eyck. Bruges From November 2008, one of the highlights on the Bruges festival calendar will be “The

© Egicarte

Brussels Open Monuments Days The annual Open Monuments Days is the perfect opportunity to experience different aspects of Brussels’ architectural heritage. The theme of the 2008 event is “Expo 58: before and after. Brussels’ heritage since the Second World War” and allows visitors to appreciate the importance of this historical event in the architectural history of Belgium. Putting the city’s post-war architecture under the spotlight, the programme will provide access to both public and private buildings, houses, businesses, sports and recreation facilities, churches and other places of architectural interest. Visitors can see the buildings on their own or join a guided tour for a more in-depth experience.

© Egicarte

© Etienne De Graeve

to a consumer lifestyle, largely demonstrated in the modern gadgets and conveniences brought over by the Americans. The 2008 Expo captures the feel of the ’58 version through exhibitions of fashion, furniture, posters, models, antiques and other paraphernalia from that time. One of the highlights of the year-long commemoration is the ‘Pavilion of Temporary Happiness’, a temporary structure built from 33,000 yellow beer crates, which considers central themes in previous World Fairs, namely progress, universalism and happiness. “Between Utopia and Reality” is an exhibition in the Atomium which uses archival material including plans, films and models to take the visitor back to the idyllic, hopeful world of 1958. This was a time when progress and happiness were inextricably entwined and Belgium was the tenth most powerful country in the world. Another notable exhibition at the Royal Museum for Central Africa recalls Belgium’s former colonies.

Face of Lace”, a four-month long celebration of the delicate fabric in its hometown. Four museums highlight different aspects of lacework, juxtaposing historic lace collections with the works of today’s fashion and design gurus. No longer associated with dusty and derelict tabletops, lace is back and it’s hip. Artists and designers use cutting-edge techniques and materials to give new meaning to this historic, intricate fabric. Visitors are given a map to lead them through the lace route, and the English design magazine Frame will be publishing a special edition in time for the event.

www.expo58.eu

Best of Belgium

83


Dining and Hospitality

The Conrad Brussels, Home Sweet Home There is a place where elegance and luxury meet to create unforgettable memories. Welcome to the Conrad Brussels Hotel, where the individuality spirit is respected through the Luxury of Being Yourself for every guestâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s enjoyment.

84

Best of Belgium


The Conrad Brussels is undoubtedly the most beautiful and contemporary luxury hotel in the capital. Located on the famous Avenue Louise, it offers its guests a proximity to the most elegant shops in the city. Opened in 1993, the hotel has preserved its magnificent 19th century façade, giving it a unique charm. The hotel has 269 magnificent rooms and suites, the Loui Lounge & Bar, the restaurant Cafe Wiltcher’s, and a traditional Lobby Lounge. All are imbued with authenticity and character. In addition, away from the hustle and bustle of Avenue Louise and exclusively for the sunny days, there is the Terrasse Rouge with access to the internal courtyard. Ideal for all business meetings and conferences, the hotel provides a 1,200m² area suited for this purpose. The hotel’s guests also have direct access to Aspria Avenue Louise, the health & beauty club. And when excellent service rhymes with satisfaction, the recognition is not too far to be found. Therefore the Conrad Brussels’ recognition has been rewarded many times over the years. In 2007, three prestigious awards were conferred to the Conrad Brussels, of which two in September and a third one in November. Firstly there was the “Conde Nast Traveller UK Award” which recognized the Conrad Brussels as the best overseas business hotel in the Benelux. Secondly, the “Five Star Diamond Award” was conferred by the American Academy of Hospitality Services which has been attributed to the Conrad Brussels for seven years in a row. And finally, the Conrad Brussels was voted the 69th world’s best hotel, with the “Institutional Investor 2007 World’s Best Hotels Award”. The contemporary attitude at the Conrad Brussels involves variety, delicacy and talent which are the key to its success. The Loui Lounge & Bar is equipped with sofas, deep leather armchairs, American shutters and a warm ochre and celadon touch which dominate the area. This mixture of diverse

classic furnishings and placid ambience will tempt guests to come back over and over again. The perfect spot for leisure reading or a fun gathering with friends over a drink; for coffee, light lunches, cocktails and even latenight snacks, the table rises to your height. It is astonishing how it welcomes guests almost around the clock. While business people come in the early afternoon, the fashionable crowd appears in the late evenings. Guests are attended with an attractive smile, newspapers are finely selected as is the music, spirits and champagne. At the restaurant, Cafe Wiltcher’s, there is a more relaxed atmosphere to be found. Subtle shades and dominant hues such as orange, camellia, purple and lily blue have been harmoniously mixed to perfection. The Café Wiltcher’s innovating design evokes a sense of serenity, which sustains the brightness of the room. On fine days you can enjoy meals outside on the magnificent Terrasse Rouge, whereas on weekends the exquisite and fashionable Sunday Brunch is everyone’s favourite rendezvous. Last but not least, located near the reception, the Lobby Lounge is perfect for the traditional afternoon tea, to gather with friends or just for a drink during the day. The Conrad Brussels is the city’s ideal place for business, meetings and conferences. As The Conrad Brussels is located in the international business quarter, it has been able to take advantage of this situation by offering facilities adapted to the needs of business people. The hotel offers postal, faxing and translation services. The Business centre provides photocopy service, internet access as well as secretarial services. In addition, the exceptional infrastructure of the hotel makes it ideal for hosting events. To custom-design each event is the Conrad Brussels’ priority. The Conrad Brussels has the largest ballroom area without columns in the city. Whether the client desires an intimate diner, a walk-in banquet or a reception-

style event, the talented team of experts will take care of everything from planning to execution. Its lodging capacity is entirely flexible. The hotel also has 9 meeting rooms accommodating from 10 to 60 people and all benefit from natural lighting. At the leading edge of technology, the Conrad Brussels has a “video-conferencing” room. These rooms are particularly appreciated for management meetings for companies or press centres. The sophisticated traveller is exhausted of being on the road. Therefore, whether the travelling is leisure or business, the Conrad Brussels is the home away from home. The Conrad Brussels is simply the place where the Luxury of Being Yourself meets with the guest’s highest expectations and a departure will be followed by a future and certain return.

Conrad Brussels Avenue Louise 71 1050 Brussels Belgium Tel: 02/542.42.42

Best of Belgium

85


Dining and Hospitality

Hotel Metropole Open since 1895, the Hotel Metropole (only remaining hotel of the 19th century in Brussels) is noticeable by the quality of its service and its internal decoration.

86

Best of Belgium


In fact, the main entrance has been decorated in French renaissance style, the reception hall in Empire style, some rooms in Art Deco or in Louis XVI styles and the restaurant in Italian baroque style. In April 2002, the Council of Monuments and Sites of Region of Brussels-Capital formally protected the Métropole Hotel’s façade as well as the ground floor. The Metropole Hotel is marvelously well located right in the historical center of the European capital, just a few steps away from the historical monuments such as the “GrandPlace”, the “Bourse” and the “Theatre de la Monnaie” and close to the city’s most exciting shopping thoroughfare. The hotel features an elegant bar “Le 19ième”, a gastronomical restaurant “L’Alban Chambon”, a Room Service 24 hours a day, 22 venue rooms for reception, banquets, meetings and seminars accommodating up to 500 guests (including the Metropole Executive Center – M.E.C.), a breakfast room « Le Jardin Indien » (for up to 180 people) and

298 appointed rooms incl. 15 spacious suites, containing original pieces of art and furnishing. Prestige & Smartness Famous and loved for its entrance hall that has been walked upon by celebrities, and for its huge reception desk covered many times by film makers, Hotel Metropole is undoubtedly the master of the tradition kept up. From its debut in 1895 to the present day, Hotel Metropole has been welcoming stars and personalities from the worlds of film, music, business and politics, who are attracted by the quality of its service, creative cuisine and grand surroundings.

31, place de Brouckère, B – 1000 Brussels (Belgium) Tel : +32-2-217 23 00 Fax : +32-2-218 02 20 info@metropolehotel.be www.metropolehotel.com

Best of Belgium

87


Dining and Hospitality

Park Plaza Astrid Antwerp: the Biggest in Antwerp! The 4-star Park Plaza Astrid Antwerp hotel is a bright shining star in the Antwerp hotel sky.

Its ideal location in the heart of the city, opposite the Central Station - where the high speed train Thalys stops - makes it a perfect venue for people coming from London, Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, etc. The remarkable hotel building emphasizes this “deluxe” hotel’s extraordinary style and atmosphere that has only intensified since the start of its refreshment beginning 2007. Then, all of the 228 guestrooms were renovated from top to toe, including new furniture, lighting, carpet and new paintwork throughout. Recently, Park Plaza Astrid Antwerp opened 19 additional luxury apartment suites on its 3rd floor, specially for long stays. In addition, the hotel has bought the Atlanta Hotel, a few meters from its doorstep on the Astrid Square. Renovation has started to transform this building into

88

Best of Belgium

an additional attractive business hotel. Opening is due for the end of 2008. At that point the Park Plaza Astrid Antwerp will represent the biggest offer in guestrooms and conference space in Antwerp! Extra privacy Recently, Park Plaza Astrid Antwerp answered the market’s request for hotel rooms with more privacy and individuality and created 19 deluxe apartment suites (www.anewdimension.be). The luxury apartments, from 55 to 75 m², have a separate bedroom, luxury bathroom with bath and trendy shower, seating area, desk, dining space with kitchenette, micro wave, Nespresso machine, fridge, dishwasher, etc. Guests can enjoy the privacy of home with all the comfort, service and benefits


of a 4-star hotel. This means that the apartment is cleaned daily and that guests can call room service, make use of the fitness club, the swimming pool, etc. A central lounge area on the apartment floor offers the possibility to invite relations or friends to have a cozy meeting or drink at any moment of the day. It is also possible to rent a fully equipped private office on the same floor, to offer apartment guests the joy of working while the homely spirit and comfort of their apartment is being respected. Full comfort zone Speaking of comfort, the Park Plaza Astrid Antwerp offers all its guests extensive relaxation facilities. The 5-star Health & Leisure Centre corresponds with a genuine fitness center, offering the latest for an intensive work out. The indoor swimming pool with Jacuzzi, sauna, steam room and solarium invite guests to relax thoroughly. Facilities also include several types of massages, including hot stone massages. For a culinary treat, guests are welcomed in The Square, the hotel restaurant/brasserie/ terrace where the chef and his team offer an international, trendy menu, based on the traditional French cuisine. This means light dishes, delicately presented, with an excellent taste and not flooded with heavy sauces. All of this can be enjoyed in the contemporary interior of The Square – overlooking the Astrid Square through huge windows - inviting for a nice cocktail, a timed business lunch or a romantic diner. Conference & Banqueting Last but not least, the Park Plaza Astrid Antwerp is known in Antwerp as the largest meeting & conference hotel with 18 flexible and multi-functional conference rooms (welcoming up to 1.000 delegates), featuring air-conditioning, wireless LAN and modern audio-visual equipment, e.g. videoconferencing. Comfortable seating areas on the conference floors are inviting for informal contacts during events. Additionally, the hotel offers Aquatopia, a unique wonderwaterworld, showcasing over 10.000 exotic fish and reptiles in their natural environment. Here you can organize an exceptional training break, an exotic start of a conference or an exclusive reception within 2 meters distance of sharks! And the future is promising with the transformation of the former Atlanta Hotel a few meters from Park Plaza Astrid Antwerp’s doorstep. A personal approach and homely atmosphere will be even more sensible in this new hotel. Opening is due end of 2008. We’ll see you then!

Park Plaza Hotels Europe is a full-service hotel company providing management, franchise, sales, marketing, reservations, training, procurement, technical, licensing and design services, operating from regional offices in London, Amsterdam and Berlin. At the beginning of 2007, the company had 30 hotels and nearly 6,000 guestroom open and under development in 7 countries throughout EMEA, with the vision to double its portfolio by 2009.

Park Plaza Astrid Antwerp Koningin Astridplein 7 2018 Antwerpen Tel: +32 (0)3 203 12 34 Fax: +32 (0)3 203 12 51 E-mail: ppaares@pphe.com www.parkplazaantwerp.com www.anewdimension.be www.parkplaza.com

Best of Belgium

89


Dining and Hospitality

B-Aparthotels: “Wherever you are in Brussels, we’re right there!” Since the spring of 2008, the Brussels hotel market has gained a new player.

B-Aparthotels is the former Europarthotels united with the Hilton Résidence hotel, which this new hotel chain recently bought. Having more than 150 luxury apartments in the city of Brussels, B-Aparthotels combines a full hotel service with the privacy and homely atmosphere of an apartment. Every fully furnished apartment is designed in a distinctive style and offers all the comfort guests need to make their stay perfect, whether it is for one night, a few weeks or even for months!

90

Best of Belgium

An additional plus and characteristic is that the four B-Aparthotels are located on the main axes of Brussels: • B-Aparthotel Montgomery is easily accessible by metro and located in a prestigious neighborhood within walking distance from the European Commission headquarters and NATO. Close to the historical center and its famous shopping areas. • B-Aparthotel Louise is ideally located

near the elegant Avenue Louise and just a few steps away from the most important shopping streets, surrounded by cozy bars and restaurants. • B-Aparthotel Ambiorix, the former Hilton Résidence, is situated in the heart of the European district, in the residential area on the art deco “Square Ambiorix”. Both The European institutions and the historic and vibrant city centre are only a few steps away. • B-Aparthotel Grand’Place, currently being


built and due to open in the fall of 2008, is located in the historical center of Brussels, next to the Grand Place and the famous wine and dine area “Rue des Bouchers”. It is the ideal location to discover the treasures of the city such as the prestigious Galerie de la Reine or the National Museum of Art. Here guests will feel the lively vibrations of the Brussels city life! Through the name B-Aparthotels, people can immediately recognize what it’s all about:

aparthotels. The B can stand for Belgium or Brussels, but much more important is the total resonance of the name in which lies the welcoming intention that this aparthotel group carries out: B A PART of us! Every guest of B-Aparthotels should feel welcome and almost at home, through a personal and flexible approach, of course, always with high respects for his or her privacy. To support this inviting name, a palette of fresh colors has been chosen. The colors are there to brighten up one’s day (and your stay). For every hotel there’s a color, returning in logos but also as elegant, colorful touches throughout. B-Aparthotels is the answer to the rising demand for long term residences and the limited offer of it on the Brussels hotel market. Therefore, the ambition of B-Aparthotels

is to grow and to have an apartment hotel on every key location in Brussels in the end. That’s why from now on, there’s a new saying in Brussels: “Wherever you are in Brussels, B-Aparthotels is right there!” B-Aparthotels is there to welcome you and to have you enjoy Brussels, the sparkling capital of Europe, in your own personal way!

Thierry Vermeiren General Manager B-Aparthotels | Head office Square Ambiorix 28 B-1000 Brussels Tel: +32 (0)2 743 51 11 Fax: +32 (0)2 743 51 12 info@b-aparthotels.com www.b-aparthotels.com

Best of Belgium

91


Dining and Hospitality

‘Kasteel Coninxdonck’ Incomparable festivities...

Five minutes from the centre of Ghent is a luxurious building in Empire style in the middle of an oasis of a beautiful park with a lake and double walls. A festive welcome in the garden, a sparkling cocktail in the attractive bar followed by a lavish meal or a delightful buffet in the banquet hall for 230 to 250 people or in one of the other lounges. There are innumerable possibilities. A couple of svelte and proud mother swans float by on the ponds of Coninxdonck with a string of little ones behind them. Every year they come from the North to spend the winter here and for centuries they have been defying time, such as the daughters of China in the world-famous bestseller “Wild Swans” of Jung Chang.

92

Best of Belgium

History The history of Coninxdonck goes back to ancient times. In the Middle Ages, the castle became property of the family Borluut (1302) through marriage with Elisabeth Muysconinckx, Dame van Coninxdonck, and in the 18th century it was a summer residence for nobility, generations of barons de Thysebaert, gentlemen van Coninckxdonck. Consequently it belonged to the rich flax merchant - family De Sloover and it became the favoured venue for an aristocratic petanque club from Ghent.

blue, lemon-yellow and lively-green curtains. Candle light and fresh flowers from the garden ornate the romantically laid tables.

An attractive interior This Middle Age castle has been attractively decorated. A floor in natural wood, white walls harmoniously combined with Prussian-

Coninxdock beer His passion for cooking led Dirk to brewing his own beer - a white beer “CONINXDONCK” - the Dobbel and Tripel flow abundantly in

Culinary edifying Organising parties is a real life ambition for the owner, Dirk van Brussel. He himself stands in the kitchen and he is only too happy to inform you of the possibilities of his refined art of cooking. His well balanced wine list, the freshness of the products and the quality of his meals belong, among many other qualities, to the attractions of this castle.


this place. Remember, Belgian beer is world famous, especially for its ‘special’ beers, the top-fermented aromatic beers. The Coninxdonck Dobbel and Tripel are perfect examples of such wonderfully crafted ales. Club house for various service clubs In addition, Coninxdonck is the club house of: • Rotary International Wetteren • Rotary International Ghent Zeehaven-Maritime • Probus International Scaldis • Probus International Ghent Zeehaven-Maritime • Round Table International Wetteren • Marnix Ghent International Corneel Heymans

• 51 International Ghent • Innerwheel International Also the “Confrérie du Sabre d’Or” Belgian Embassy de la Belgique, the wordfamous Champagne Guild, prefers the Coninxdonck castle as their meeting place.

Kasteel Coninxdonck Koningsdonkstraat 118 9050 Gent Tel: 09 - 230 31 64 Fax: 09 - 231 05 99 E-mail: dirk.vanbrussel@pandora.be www.kasteelconinxdonck.com

Best of Belgium

93


Dining and Hospitality

Kasteel van Lebbeke A unique, stylishly restored décor and well-cared-for service.

You already have a view of the open kitchen that was furnished in the original cellar, from the two entrance gates. Just like the natural kitchen of yesteryear, Jan Cami’s meals are based on herbs from the castle’s herb garden and fresh products. Your taste buds will be spoilt and you will enjoy refined

94

Best of Belgium

cuisine with home-made oils, sauces and syrups, depending on the seasonal offer. The restaurant is known from afar for its superb four- or five-course dinners. You will be surprised by a menu that changes every month or during a meticulous business lunch in a unique, stylishly restored décor


and well-cared-for service. You can also go to Lebbeke Castle for receptions, seminars and parties for up to 150 people. Parties for up to 400 people are held in what used to be the coach house and accompanying orangery. If you have specific wishes, you can contact us without obligations.

Leo Duboisstraat 41 9280 Lebbeke Tel: 052/38 09 09 Fax: 052/38 09 10 E-mail: info@KasteelVanLebbeke.be www.kasteelvanlebbeke.be

Best of Belgium

95


Dining and Hospitality

The Essence of our Philosophy? Hospitality and Pampering. Welcome to the unique ambience of La Butte aux Bois, a paradise for guests who are looking for the ultimate in attention and service.

The fairytale estate was built in 1924 for Knight Lagasse de Locht. The Bullens family acquired it in 1970 and lived in it for 15 years. In the 1980’s and 1990’s large-scale renovation and decorating work transformed the residential section into a comfortable and versatile hostellerie. Hostellerie La Butte aux Bois is situated in a restfully green and natural setting. The majestic garden features a lake, little avenues and idyllic spots for you to forget the cares of the

96

Best of Belgium

world. The 5 C’s of Relais & Châteaux (Courtoisie, Charme, Caractère, Calme and Cuisine) represent the gastronomic philosophy of personal hospitality you’ll find at La Butte aux Bois. Lunch or dinner can be served in the elegant Restaurant La Source or on the sheltered terrace with glorious view over the park. The cuisine of ‘La Source’ is a gastronomic treat with its combinations of refined dishes and excellent wines from our unique wine cellar. After a liqueur or


a cup of coffee in the atmospheric bar or by the open fire, you can retire to one of the 40 comfortably furnished rooms dotted throughout the manoir and villa. The park of the Hostelry is adjacent to the large Hoge Kempen National Park nature reserve, with walks, mountain bike and horse riding trails right at the door, plus 5 golf courses within a 20 km radius. The central location of La Butte aux Bois between the Burgundian city of Maastricht (6 km) and Liege (30 km)

and Aachen (40 km) offers a wide variety of cultural and recreational sights. â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Aquamarijnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; is the health and wellness centre in the vaults of the castle. The swimming pool, sauna, whirlpool and various treatment rooms offer you the change to relax and recharge your batteries. Come and visit the Hostellerie La Butte aux Bois. The philosophy of providing the best in personal attention and pampering is your guarantee of a totally unforgettable stay.

Hostellerie La Butte aux Bois Paalsteenlaan 90 3620 Lanaken Tel: +32 (0)89 73 97 70 Fax: +32 (0)89 72 16 47 E-mail: info@labutteauxbois.be www.labutteauxbois.be

Best of Belgium

97


Dining and Hospitality

Lâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Albon Chambon Open since 1895, the Hotel Metropole (only remaining hotel of the 19th century in Brussels) is noticeable by the quality of its service and its internal decoration.

98

Best of Belgium


In the historical center of Brussels, not far away from the “Grand Place”, the “Bourse” and the “Théâtre de la Monnaie”, the Hotel Metropole looms majestically. In its interior it shelters a famous restaurant “L’Alban Chambon” which is unavoidable as far as Brussels cookery is concerned. It distinguishes itself with its service and its sumptuous interior decoration in a typical Italian baroque style. Not less impressive, the cuisine, classic and innovative, is a real jewel in the gastronomic field. For more than 18 years, Dominique Michou, the Executive Chef, proposes seasonal menu cards suggesting a very large selection of his specialties elaborated with fish, meat, foie gras and lobster. Back to basics ... Noble products and raw material make real valued and chosen according to the seasons ... That’s the philosophy of the menu card, in permanent evolution. The Sommelier is always at the client’s disposal to make a selection between 250 different wines and more than 4000 bottles in the cave. “L’Alban Chambon” restaurant is open from Monday to Friday for lunch and dinner time and is closed on Saturday, Sunday and holiday. To begin or follow this exceptional moment, the bar “Le 19ième” offers an elegant, refined and relaxing atmosphere in a timeless decor, serving a large selection of cocktails and fine aged whiskies. Witness the Hotel Metropole history, a recent refurbishment let us discover a number of paintings dating from the beginning of the 20th Century on the ceiling. Open from Monday to Sunday. Musical entertainment by our pianist every day.

De Brouckèreplein, 31 B - 1000 Brussel BELGIË Tel: +32-2-217 23 00 Fax: +32-2-218 02 20

Best of Belgium

99


Dining and Hospitality

Museum Brasserie Flawless cooking and real Belgian food

Some comments from our guests… “If you’re doing the royal museums at all (and the art museum is fabulous, from Breughel to Magritte) do make a reservation to lunch at Museum Brasserie (www.museumfood.be). It is a ‘newish’ venture of Peter Goossens, the three-Michelin-starred chef of Hof van Cleve. It is SUPERB - wonderfully refined takes on the Belgian classics - not very expensive and a gorgeous room to boot. “I can say that the Moules Nature were by far the best that I have ever eaten anywhere - huge and just seasoned enough to let the natural flavour standout. I am not sure that I even made a dent in it. Frites were great. Would definitely go back. “The menu offers a wide range of Belgian dishes which amazingly, is not that common in Brussels. There are traditional dishes, Belgian dishes with a twist and some classics. There is of course the option of a Menu Terroir Belge (Belgian Menu) including

100

Best of Belgium


Belgian classics such as Paté du chef, Flemish stew, or flan caramel. For anyone not familiar with Belgian food, a very good start. “We also asked for the wine menu, which again was a very pleasant surprise. Wines start at a very reasonable price and are conveniently divided into whites, fruity reds, medium reds and powerful reds. The choice of wines (and prices!) is though incredible and there is something to suit every budget and taste. There is also a good choice of Belgian beers on offer. “Personally, I ordered the pig cheeks in kriek sauce. The dishes arrived in small little pots, with Belgian frites on the side. We tried Eel in green sauce. Absolutely amazingly soft, tender meat, a great sauce, the eel was delicious and the frites were pure Belgian perfection. “Sounds like a lot? The portions are well designed, and there is very little to keep one away from the desserts. Have I not been living in Belgium, I know I would order the

Fromages Belges, a very tempting offer of four cheeses and their respective chutneys/ jams. Divine. A perfect end to a true culinary delightful dinner. “Flawless cooking and real Belgian food. You rarely come across this well cooked food (and not Michelin starred!), and such an interesting choice. A must for Belgian food lovers, a must for tourists wanting to discover more about Belgian food. Definitely a restaurant I will recommend further, and probably go back to myself. “Some restaurants in Brussels leave you feeling giddy, if not a bit ecstatic. Museum Brasserie 3, place Royale; 32-2-5083580; www.museumfood.be. A new place from the Flemish chef Peter Goossens, is among them. (His other restaurant, Hof van Cleve, has three Michelin stars.) Set in a Victor Horta building that’s part of the

Royal Museums of Fine Arts, the minimalist interior is dominated by immense black chandeliers and attracts Flemish hipsters and matrons alike. The kitchen specializes in updated Belgian classics like eel in green sauce, veal kidneys with Ghent mustard and spit-roasted cockerel? all accompanied by perfect frites. The wine cellar, encased in sleek glass, offers a nice mix of French and New World varieties, including a delightful Flemish chardonnay with hints of seaweed. For dessert, order the waffles from Liège, a town in Belgium, which manage to be baroque without being too sweet.”

MuseumBrasserie Koningsplein 3 Place Royale 1000 Brussels Reservations: +32 (0) 2 508 35 80 Email: info@museumfood.be www.museumfood.be

Best of Belgium

101


Dining and Hospitality

On the Way to 20 Years of Top Quality “Taste and enjoy the smells of my open kitchen! I promise you a tasteful experience!” Chef Huis De Colvenier - Patrick Van Herck

Huis De Colvenier in the very heart of Antwerp is a real trendsetter. Its slogan is ‘class and quality’. The restaurant is located in an exultant patrician’s house in the Sint Antoniusstraat. A summer terrace – which also serves as a winter garden – and a stylish salon make this a very special house. But the wine cellar is especially unique. The cellar is impressive and with much character, exceptionally suitable for drinking an aperitif with owner/chef Patrick Van Herck. In his open kitchen you will smell, see and taste the flavours of foie grass, shellfish, fresh vegetables,

102

Best of Belgium

cheeses and desserts. Tell the chef your wants and desires and he will work his magic to make your personal menu appear on your plate, adjusted for your taste, time and budget. Discover and experience Huis De Colvenier. This will become a personal and surprising experience. Open, French kitchen – “We serve class and quality at an honest price.” Patrick Van Herck is a top chef. Just like his teachers (Bruneau, Scholteshof, ’t Laurierblad, Belle Epoque in Leuven and Robuchon in Paris) Patrick swears by a French kitchen, giving it an own identity using the creativity he was born with. His menu follows the seasons, but asparagus,


the stairs or the elevator and enjoy your before-dinner drink underground, right next to hundreds of high-quality wines, representing the whole world. The wine list was established by Danny Vanderschueren, sommelier and wine ambassador 2007 and also the owner of the star-rated restaurant Folliez in the Belgian town of Mechelen. The stylish and charming wine cellars date from 1897. In 2007 Patrick expanded his cellars. No fewer than 150 people can enjoy world-class wines, classified by themes for each country. Wine radiates elegance, prestige and quality. That is why this unique wine cellar is eminently suitable to add that extra touch to your event. A meeting in the wine cellar or a wine tasting as a quick break in your meeting? A remarkable environment for celebrating a birth, birthday or anniversary? Huis De Colvenier’s wine cellar is eminently suitable!

scampi and lamb remain at the core of the house. The menu features daily-fresh products like foie grass, exclusive kinds of fish, game and homemade desserts. Discuss your menu with the chef while sipping your aperitif in the wine cellar. You can shorten the proposed menu or make it longer, choose the wine you prefer, your preference for fish, etc. The chef and his employees fulfill your wishes. The Grand Cru of wine cellars “Clear a path through the maze of snug little underground cellars and niches.” Let yourself be spoiled in restaurant Huis de Colvenier and don’t forget to visit the wine cellar. Take

The wine cellar as a unique backdrop for your: • birthday, anniversary • birth, first communion • funeral • wedding • conference, meeting, etc. Sample Menu Aperitif Reception with a tour of the wine cellar Champagne and horse d’oeuvres First course: cold appetizer Enjoy foie gras, Belgian veal and mixed small pieces of salad Jonagold apples and salad with nuts, sprinkled with honey vinaigrette Second course: warm appetizer Spooning light-creamy asparagus cream soup, pieces of lobster, scampi and scallops, perfumed with curry

Third course: warm appetizer Sea bass baked in the skin with celeriac, together with Ostend grey shrimp Freshen up Granité of red wine and orange sherbet Main course Crispy lamb pieces with Flemish grain mustard with potatoes gratin Cheese Assortment of ripened cheeses with grapes and nuts Dessert Soft Doyonné pears filled with anise liqueur, Marie-Brizard, vanilla icecream and raspberry sauce Coffee Coffee or tea with sweets and Belgian chocolate Art and gastronomy go hand in hand Patrick Van Herck has a good, personal and permanent collection of wall paintings, paintings and etchings. He chose southern colours and playful murals for the summer terrace. A Mastenbroek mural shows a red parrot. Patrick himself dared to put in two of his own oil paintings. He painted a lobster’s antennae and a lemon peel over the frame. The result is playful and surprising. A gigantic cabbage by Antoon Verbeeck decorates the salon. Patrick also owns about 10 hand-coloured etchings by Thomas Ross, but he also has a painting by 19th century animal painter Karel Verlat and a collection of replicas of Joseph Linnig, the Antwerp 19th century landscape painter.

Restaurant Huis De Colvenier Sint Antoniusstraat 8 2000 Antwerpen Tel: +32 (0)3/226.65.73 Email: info@colvenier.be www.colvenier.be

Best of Belgium

103


Vincenzo Regine Chef par Excellence Our chef, Vincenzo Regine, born in Ischia has been brought up in the purest tradition of the island. Off Naples, Ischia is rich in Mediterranean flavors: Venetian style calf liver, fried polenta, sun dried vegetables in olive oil, calamari, octopus and shellfish are specialties that echo Vincenzo’s childhood.

Vincenzo always intended to go into cooking and his visionary uncle initiated him in this discipline. His collaboration with two masters of Italian cuisine, Sergio Mei, Four Season’s Chef of Milan and Alberico Penati, restaurant’s Chef of the Aspinalls refined his talent and led him to Brussels, where he participated at the Bocconi launch. This year, as Executive Chef, he celebrates the fifth anniversary of the best Italian restaurant of the city. He has received many prestigious awards such as Maître Cuisinier / Master Cook of Belgium 2008, as well as prize winner

104

Best of Belgium


Chef Vincenzo

for the Best Italian Cuisine in Brussels by the Deltas of Gastronomy 2007. Italian experience Italian cuisine is cuisine par excellence; it associates pleasant colours and various savours. Its simplicity and conviviality explain its success around the world and why it is present in the finest gastronomic places. Its basics are classical, but leave the door open for evolution, depending on trends or on one’s will. Chef Vincenzo Regine: “Personally, I enjoy the fact that it is so diversified, with products and preparations proper to each individual region of Italy. I do like the idea of inviting

Bocconi’s guests to travel and discover my country from a different point of view through my cuisine. My aim is to achieve the highest possible quality and for that I select most of the ingredients from their place of production - troffie from Liguria, extra virgin olive oil from Tuscany, Parma ham and parmesan cheese from Emilia Romana.” As seasons go by, products follow one another on the markets. In our Gourmet Menu, our Chef wishes to highlight those products. As from June 2008, Chef Vincenzo will focus on a specific Italian region season by season, starting with Napoli, his birthplace. So visiting the Bocconi is a real rediscovery of Italian Cuisine, more open to creativity

than most of the traditional restaurants in Belgium. Hence business people, diplomats and demanding gourmands dine at the Hotel Amigo and feel at home.

Restaurant Bocconi Rue de l’Amgio, 1-3 1000 Brussels Tel: +32 2 547 4715 Fax: +32 2 547 47 67 E-mail:bocconirestaurant@roccofortecollection.com Website: www.roccofortecollection.com Media Communication and PR Tel: +32 2 547 47 03 E-mail: pr.amigo@roccofortecollection.com

Best of Belgium

105


Dining and Hospitality

Brasserie Pakhuis Fresh, contemporary tinted French-Italian cuisine

106

Best of Belgium


Brasserie Pakhuis is located in a cosy alley with the towers of Ghent in the background. On entering, you are overwhelmed by the enormous space that still reflects the atmosphere of this former warehouse. Portuguese architect Antoine Pinto gave the building its distinctive warm character. The unique combination of a 600 square meters storage space with the specifically designed interior is what distinguishes Brasserie Pakhuis from any other restaurant, and even more so, the restaurant’s fresh, contemporary tinted French-Italian cuisine. Brasserie Pakhuis is famous for it’s royal oyster and seafood platters, which can be accompanied by a French classic or a glass of excellent wine from the new world. Enjoy “al fresco dining” on our beautiful outside terrace.

Brasserie Pakhuis Schuurkensstraat 5 9000 Gent Tel: +32 (0)9 223 55 55 Fax : +32 (0)9 255 71 55 Email: info@pakhuis.be www.pakhuis.be

Best of Belgium

107


Dining and Hospitality

The Stage Dinner Theatre Unlimited – Never a Dull Moment Five seasons in a row running now, The Stage Dinner Theatre Unlimited offers her visitors a unique combination of entertainment on stage and refined food on your plate.

This renowned Art Deco theatre can be found in the very heart of Antwerp and offers a complete package for a stylish night out—think theatre, cabaret, variety, revue, and off course great food. Every Friday and Saturday, The Stage Dinner Theatre Unlimited is an original alternative to your classic dinner out. It’s ideal for those who want to surprise their family or business relations with a special treat.

108

Best of Belgium

New Classic Stories with Contemporary Music The Stage is always looking for original approaches to classic stories. For example, last spring The Stage presented a particularly successful musical version of Cinderella. Everyone knows the classic story of the girl that loses her glass slipper when she goes to the dance at the palace. But the creators of this unusual version gave

the fairytale a contemporary feel, mainly via the musical element. That’s why the story of Cinderella was interspersed with international pop classics from artists such as Madonna, Queen and Robbie Williams. You also get to see some of the greatest musical scenes from movies such as Moulin Rouge and Chicago. All this is integrated in the classic fairytale and combined with new characters and twists


in the story. This kind of formula might be well known in cities such as London and Paris, but for Belgium this is a novel and original concept. In the past five years The Stage has attracted an increasingly large fan base. The audience is not only from Antwerp: since all the shows are in English more than fifty percent of the visitors are tourists visiting the city, looking for an entertaining night out.

Food The kitchen always offers you the choice between two distinctive, four course menus and thus offers a dining experience that flows through most of the evening. The menu is often refreshed, because The Stage wants to keep up with the latest trends, as well as in stage entertainment, as in the kitchen. Finally, the evening isn’t over after the show – the night typically evolves into a party. Don’t forget your dancing shoes. Special arrangements The Stage Dinner Theatre organizes exclusive shows on every day of the week for companies and organizations. It’s possible to adjust the program to your own wishes. For example, the show can be combined with a business meeting.

Have a look at the Theatre’s website for more detail on these opportunities. Luxury weekends Why not make a weekend of it? The Stage offers two luxury weekend packages, combining the Prestige Formula at The Stage, an overnight stay with breakfast at one of two exclusive Antwerp hotels and an excursion of your choice the following day.

THE STAGE DINNER THEATRE UNLIMITED Anneessensstraat 10 2018 Antwerpen Tel: +32 (0)3 226.50.00 Fax: +32 (0)3 226.30.00 E-mail: info@thestage.be

Best of Belgium

109


One man practicing sportsmanship is better than a hundred teaching it.

Š www.douglasmoors.be

Knute Rockne (1888 - 1931)


Chapter 5 Sport


Sport

Brilliant Justine bows out at the Top

Justine Henin Hardenne ©Glenn Thomas

Many top female tennis players retire early. Kim Clijsters quit at the age of 23, Martina Hingis at 27, Steffi Graf at 30. But when Belgian tennis superstar Justine Henin retired from all professional tennis at the age of 25 in May 2008, she was the first player to do so while a reigning World No. 1.

Justine Henin Hardenne ©Glenn Thomas

For Henin, the decision to give up all competitive tennis capped a remarkable year and a half which saw her achieve unprecedented success on the court while also finding growing contentment off it. Professionally, 2007 was a dream year. Her seventh and last Grand Slam triumph, the 2007 U.S. Open, is considered by many to be her finest. For the first time in her career she defeated both Venus and Serena Williams back to back in a “memorable display of flowing, aggressive all-court tennis”. Despite being smaller and less muscular, at 5 foot, 5 inches, than the more athletic Williams sisters, Henin outplayed, out-fought and out-ran them. Tennis experts point to Henin’s mental toughness, the completeness and variety of her game, her “lyrically beautiful” and clinical one-handed backhand, as well as her speed and agility as being the key ingredients of her success. At the end of the 2007 season, in the WTA championship final in Madrid, Henin recorded a three hour, 25 minute victory over Maria

112

Best of Belgium

Sharapova, a fierce competitor for the World No 1 crown. “That day I said to myself, I have lived everything and given everything,” Henin recalls. That “everything” includes 41 WTA singles titles, more than US$19 million in prize money, four French Open championships, one Australian Open and two US Open titles. (The only Grand Slam title that eluded her was Wimbledon.) She also won the WTA Tour Championships twice and a singles gold medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics. In 2007 she became the first female athlete to pass the $5-million mark in one season, winning 10 titles and two majors. How was it possible that a player initially considered too mentally and physically vulnerable to reach the very top could overcome these hurdles and hold the World No. 1 position for 117 weeks? Various factors played a role, including good coaching, an incredible work-ethic and sheer determination. Gruelling workouts on her fitness and her forehand, with Pat Etcheberry in Florida for example, helped her to transform her game. Henin also had exceptional timing and


Justine Henin Hardenne - Miami

combined athleticism with grace. “What she lacked in height she made up in solidity and timing,” writes Verlyn Klinkenborg in the New York Times. “The ball simply vanished in the force of her cyclonic swing, which, for all its power, has never lacked grace.” Former tennis great John McEnroe described Henin’s one-handed backhand as simply the best single-handed backhand in the women’s or men’s game, Federer included. Veteran sports writer Simon Barnes said that in the face of more powerful opponents, Henin could not afford to be anything less than perfect. “It could only be in the perfection of her timing, the coincidence of sweet spot, bounce, footwork and angle. She seemed to have no margin for error whatsoever; perfection simply had to be her first resort.” In her personal life, Henin has found new ways to express her emotions in the past two years and has grown personally as a result. Klinkenborg describes the “surfacing of Justine Henin’s emotions” as one of the “central stories in women’s tennis the past two years”. Her divorce from her husband of four years, Pierre-Yves Hardenne, her reconnection with her estranged family and the growing sense of a “happier woman emerging on the court and off” marked a shift in Justine. Ironically, it was this newfound sense of contentment which seems to have blunted her fiercely competitive drive. Well before her mother died when Justine was 12 years old, she developed the kind of intense concentration which is required to reach the level did. Over the past while she appeared to be growing out of that, and looking beyond tennis to other challenges. A few weeks before she was due to return to Roland Garros as the three-time defending champion, the “Queen of Clay” realised that she had, in her own words, “lost the flame”. Explaining her decision to a press conference at her tennis club (Club Justine N1), Justine said, “I invested enormously in my sport, since the age of five. I always lived for tennis, and it’s without regret because I lived emotions which I will never forget ... I don’t feel sadness, but rather a release, a relief, a glance towards the future. I always seek to build and change, and not only by tennis.” As for that future, an important aspect of her new life will be inspiring young people through her Foundation and her Academy. Justine’s coach of 12 years, Carlos Rodriguez, will be working full-time at her 6th Sense Academy while Justine is keen to impart to youngsters some of the morals, values and emotions she learned from a game which has given her so much. She has, as she says, turned a page and while she will always remained involved in tennis, she is embarking on new adventures.

Best of Belgium

113


Sport

Gazet Van Antwerpen Cyclo-cross Trophy Cyclo-cross nirvana and a major popular party. During the eight events there are more than 100,000 fans in the field and millions in front of their TV sets.

All enjoying this weekly winter battle between the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s best cyclo-cross stars, be it in mud, snow, rain or freezing temperatures... A wonderful and durable marriage of top sports and fun. A packet of French fries, a pint of beer, and some small talk with the cyclists... no other menu is more attractive than that of the Gazet van Antwerpen Cyclo-cross Trophy. From the start on the Koppenberg on 1 November, over Niel, Hasselt, Essen, Loenhout, Baal and Lille to the final chord in Oostmalle: itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a party everywhere. Will Sven Nys succeed himself? Will Bart Wellens become the top? Or will World Champion Lars Boom put a spoke in the wheels? Whoever wins, we always have a party!

Keep track of it all on www.gvatrofee.be.

114

Best of Belgium


ING Antwerp 10 Miles and Marathon The ING Antwerp 10 Miles & Marathon is the largest running event in Flanders. More than 23,000 runners take part in the Marathon, the Relay Marathon, the 10 Miles, the Ladies Run 5 km, the Short Run 5 km or the Kids Run.

Each year, at the end of April, the city of Antwerp ensures a warm welcome for runners from all over the world. More than 20 different nationalities take part in the runs. The streets are completely closed off to the traffic and more than 50,000 supporters encourage the participants. That way, the runners get to see a unique picture of one of the most beautiful cities in Belgium. The passage through the famous Kennedy tunnel under the Scheldt provides that little bit extra which makes the ING Antwerp 10 Miles & Marathon an unforgettable sporting event. The ING Antwerp Marathon is the newest distance at this top event. After two years, already more than 2,000 marathon runners have found their way to Antwerp. Especially the finish on the Antwerp â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Grote Marktâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; is an incredible experience for every participant.

www.ingantwerp10miles.be

Best of Belgium

115


Sport

Tour of Belgium The Tour of Belgium is a five-day bicycle race which was held for the first time in 1908 and then annually â&#x20AC;&#x201C; apart from a number of interruptions, notably for the two world wars - until 1990.

After an absence of 12 years, in 2002 Golazo sports decided to revive the Tour of Belgium. With the formation of the UCI ProTour in 2005, the organisation briefly came under pressure, but in the meantime the Tour of Belgium has again become an annual fixture on the calendar of the UCI Europe Tour. Each year during the last week of May, Belgium is enthralled by its own tour, which generates massive public interest along the Belgian roads. With both flat and hilly stretches and a

116

Best of Belgium

time trial, the Tour of Belgium offers excellent opportunities for every type of rider. The Tour of Belgium boasts a dazzling winners list, featuring such major names as Rik Van Looy, Freddy Maertens and Eddy Merckx. Each year the organisation can rely on a strong field of participants, with ProTour teams from Belgium and abroad. In addition, the Tour of Belgium also offers young Belgian talents a chance to measure themselves against top names from the cycling world.


Belgacom Memorial Van Damme What initially was meant as a onetime tribute to one of Belgian’s most popular and gifted sportsmen has become a real “classic” in this country.

Indeed, the “Belgacom Memorial Van Damme” has become one of the biggest sports events in Belgium and at the same time one of the greatest athletics competitions in the world. Year after year, some 50.000 spectators fill the Brussels’ King Baudouin Stadium for what is so much more than a traditional athletics meeting. The Belgacom Memorial Van Damme is a thrilling cocktail of great sports, music, fireworks and entertainment of all sorts. The world’s best athletes serve the crowd some 18

competitions, each worth an Olympic final; African drums accompany the long distance runners and when the atmosphere in the stadium has reached a peak a mini-concert ends the party. Nobody would have ever expected such result, back in 1977 when seven Belgian sportswriters decided to launch this “Memorial” to commemorate their friend Ivo Van Damme, who got tragically killed in a car accident, less than five months after his double triumph at the Olympic Games in Montreal, where he won the silver medal in both the 800 and the 1500m. But after a remarkably emotional and successful first edition, on 16 August 1977, the crowd asked for more and slowly but surely the “Van Damme” became a tradition and a real “society event”, visited every year by thousands of loyal fans and often by a member of the Royal Family. The next edition of the Belgacom Memorial Van Damme takes place on Friday 5 September 2008. www.belgacommemorialvandamme.be

Best of Belgium

117


Sport

HealthCity Feeling good feeling healthy, the central theme of our international fitness and relaxation group. Experience HealthCity at more than 100 clubs in three countries.

Mission An incomparable combination of luxurious facilities, a pleasant environment and highclass service - this is what makes HealthCity so unique. As a full-service company, HealthCity is entirely focused on the personal health of its members but does so in a superbly pleasant way. Feeling good is important. Besides the classic fitness and group courses, the company also offers the opportunity to practice a wide range of

118

Best of Belgium

other activities, such as tennis, squash or badminton. Or maybe relaxing in a sauna or hammam is more to your taste. Or a refreshing dive in the swimming pool. Or take it easy and work on your tan in the solarium? All this is possible in one of our 100 international clubs. And we will keep on growing, so we can give everybody the possibility to work on his or her health in an active and relaxing way. All Inclusive In this All Inclusive concept everything is

included: fitness, group courses, wellness, drinks, free dvd rent... If you choose a GOLDmembership you have access to every HealthCity club. So you can work on your body and health wherever you are! Facilities: • Fitness: cardio and power training • Group courses (Les Mills) • Tennis, squash, badminton, bowling • Wellness: sauna, solarium, steam bath, swimming pool...


Company Fit Healthy employees lie at the basis of a good team spirit, that is why we introduced Company Fit. It is comparable to the All Inclusive concept but we offer your company special conditions. For more information check www.healthcity.be. The story René Moos, Eric Wilborts and Dennis Aarts are the initiators of the HealthCity adventure. After the professional tennis careers of René and Eric, they began managing tennis courts. The first results were visible as “het Arnolduspark”. HealthCity is especially known for its fitness facilities and that’s where Dennis came along, his life was basically focused on fitness and judo. Now we can offer our members a fullyequipped fitness environment with extra facilities!

• Lounge • Kids corner • Free drinks & DVD’s Basic A well-equipped fitness for a basic price. For only €6,95 a week you can improve your condition and strengthen your muscles. Facilities: • Fitness: cardio and power training • Group courses (Les Mills)

HealthCity International All over the Netherlands these clubs were managed by these three gentlemen. In 2004 the two regional organisations were merged and baptised into HealthCity! Thanks to Waterland, who bought half of the shares in 2005, some large investments were possible. An acquisition of different clubs and the construction of new clubs could be realised. In 2006 HealthCity crossed borders and expanded to Belgium and Germany. With 29 clubs in Belgium, over 50 clubs in the Netherlands and more than 23 in Germany, HealthCity has evolved toward an inevitable player in the fitness world.

Totally in to HealthCity? Visit our website or contact our headquarters: HealthCity Belgium n.v. Slachthuislaan 74 2060 Antwerp www.healthcity.be

Best of Belgium

119


Fashion can be bought. Style one must possess.

© Tim Stoops

Edna Woolman Chase


Chapter 6 Fashion


Fashion

Modo Bruxellae All about Brussels Fashion

Cathy Pill drew long Š Gregory Derkenne

Capital city of a country recognized for its creativity and its know-how, Brussels is home to a growing number of big names in national and international fashion. Its fashion is rich in variety of styles and well-known labels. The proximity of Paris and London offers great possibilities for designers working here.

122

Best of Belgium


Sandrina Fasoli spring summer 08 © Emmanuel Llaurent 3

Life is good in Brussels, the most European of all cities, and there are even whispers in the “milieu” that “Brussels is where it’s all happening”. More and more international visitors find shopping in Brussels more fun, enabling them to catch the one item they couldn’t spot anywhere else. Modo Bruxellae (meaning “in Brussels fashion” in Latin) is an association created in 1994 by the Minister for the Economy of the Region of Brussels-Capital to promote all actors in the Brussels fashion sector, from the most avant-garde designers to traditional fashion houses. Its deep knowledge of this evolving sector has created a unique platform, an interesting meeting point and useful interface to discover and assist fashion designers in Brussels. The association has developed www.modobruxellae.be, updated daily, where many visitors find all the latest information on Brussels fashion: news, advertisements and reports of events, addresses of designers, brands, shops, schools, modeling agencies... and of course, www.myspace.com/modobruxellae for funky updates. Modo Bruxellae also organizes events, the most important being the Parcours de Stylistes/Stylistenparcours (Designers’ Trail) taking place every even year at the end of October. Over three days, the city centre moves to the rhythm of astonishing fashion exhibitions in boutiques and unusual locations (cafés, galleries, shops, private apartments...). At least 100 exhibits entice fashion devotees, inform fashion novices about the present and future of Brussels fashion and offer new views of the historical heart of the city. Modo Bruxellae also organizes other exhibitions and fashion shows, stock sales of clothing and

accessories by young designers and other projects. Every year, Modo Bruxellae awards the Modo Prize worth 7500€ to the most promising Young Fashion Designer in Brussels, thus awarding in the past Carine Lauwers, Tony and Sandrine (Tony Delcampe is now head of La Cambre Mode(s), the leading Brussels fashion school), Annemie Verbeke, Azniv Afsar, own, Olivier Theyskens, Xavier Delcour, Marina Yee, Jean-Paul Knott, Cathy Pill and Sandrina Fasoli. Future winners could be Jose Enrique Ona Selfa, who worked for Loewe but now designs his own very beautiful collection, or why not Jessie Lecomte, making elegancy her aim. In collaboration with Brussels Export, 2008 was the first year of a new joint concept: 101% Brussels Fashion, promoting a yearly selection of 10 fashion designers in showrooms in Paris, London, Milano and

other cities. The first edition with Annemie Verbeke, Cathy Pill, Christophe Coppens, Eric Beauduin, Girls from Omsk, Isabelle Lenfant, Jean-Paul Knott, Les Précieuses, Sandrina Fasoli and Sofie D’Hoore proved them right and so it happens the Brussels Government is dedicating special efforts to the fields of fashion and design, hence playing the trump cards of the Brussels Region in Belgium and abroad, as well for its economic vitality as for its market image in general. This investment in Brussels Creativity is also the forerunner of the future creation of a Design-Mode center, expected very soon in Brussels. This centre will offer the public, the designers and the professionals a reference.

www.modobruxellae.be

Best of Belgium

123


Fashion

Perspective on Fashion - Edith Vervliet, Flanders Fashion Institute

© Jacques Sonck

© Tim Stoops

Antwerp is sparkling with fashion. Internationally “our” designers are extending far beyond our borders.

124

Best of Belgium

The Fashion Department of the Koninklijke Academie voor Schone Kunsten (Royal Academy of Fine Arts) of the Hogeschool Antwerpen, founded by Mary Prijot in 1963, deserves the highest merit here. The four years of training in the Fashion Department is an intense and intensive course. Graduated designers confirm that it is a training course where you learn to discover yourself and where you receive guidance in the search for your own voice. The course of study concentrates less on applied professional knowledge, but rather emphasises creativity, originality and renewal, which at the same time explains the unique features of the course. “The Antwerp Six” graduated at the beginning of the 80’s: Walter Van Beirendonck - who has been the Head of the Fashion Department since 2007 - Ann Demeulemeester, Marina Yee, Dirk Van Saene and Dries Van Noten and Dirk Bikkembergs. The term “Antwerp Six” originated in the British press in 1986, which was unable to pronounce the Flemish names of these designers when, together, they took part in the designer week in London. Up to the present

time this name has followed them, even if they are distinguished by their individual style and universe, and each having gone their own way. There remarkable talent, perseverance, attention to perfection and to the very details, individually make them legendary. They are the ambassadors of the Fashion Department, which is the breeding ground for students of fashion from the whole world, and which has put Antwerp on the world map. Martin Margiela graduated together with Walter Van Beirendonck in 1980, but does not belong to the Antwerp Six. He established himself almost immediately in Paris as assistant to Jean-Paul Gaultier. In October 2008, Maison Martin Margiela, which has been part of the Diesel group since 2002, will be celebrating its 20th anniversary. With reference to this birthday, the Fashion Museum in Antwerp has programmed the unique exhibition ‘MAISON MARTIN MARGIELA. (20) The exhibition’, from 12 September 2008 to 8 February 2009. The second generation of designers who graduated from the end of the 80’s to the end of the 90’s with, amongst others,


A.F.Vandevorst (An Vandevorst and Filip Arickx), Stephan Schneider, Veronique Branquinho, Kris Van Assche, Bernard Willhelm, Bruno Peters, etc., on the basis of their determination, strong and conceptual collections, ensured an immediate breakthrough. They established the avantgarde character - ‘L’Anverse de la Mode’ (The Wrong Side of Fashion), as the French fashion journalist, Elisabeth Paillé, so aptly described it - of the Antwerp fashion: the reverse side, the underdog, not as extravert as English fashion, not as sexy as Italian fashion, not as brainy as Japanese fashion. Now the third generation comes marching along with the top designers who have graduated at the turn of the century, such as Christian Wijnants, Tim Van Steenbergen, Pelican Avenue (Carolin Lerch) Les Hommes (Tom Notte and Bart Vandebosch), followed by recent names such as Peter Pilotto, Il Galantuomo (Gunhyo Kim) and EK Thongprasert. Fashion is business; that is the reality today. This does not prevent fashion students from having to study cultural-history backgrounds in the course of their learning and developing the highest conceptual visions. But those who want to start a collection themselves must realise that it goes together with an economic activity. This amounts to finding a good balance between the super-creative and the economic aspect. Designer fashion is marked by an international character. The student corps of the Fashion Department in Antwerp has become even more international over the past 25 years: with more than 33 nationalities in 2008. That international character has undoubtedly had an influence on fashion here in Antwerp. Our designers must also, at the same time, offer their collection to an international target group. The Belgian market for designer fashion is too limited. It does not do to concentrate first on the national market and those of the neighbouring countries. The cake is too small and the competition too big. The world is the market place. Though it is true that we do speak of certain ‘niche markets’ and the higher income segment that is approached via international buyers, importers, agents and the fashion specialist publications. Also the production events in the fashion industry show international characteristics. Delocalisation is a fact. Unemployment in careers that become victims of delocalisation, such as pattern makers, sewers/seamstresses, retouchers and production attendants have reoriented themselves. Training in these careers has become less attractive. Designer fashion is a top creative product with which Belgium/Flanders/Antwerp must

position themselves further on the world map. Designer fashion means high-quality, inventive, creative designs that must be converted into quality finished products with limited circulation. No massed numbers come to look here. For our designers it is essential to have production capacity - in time and in quality - in the immediate vicinity. Naturally, certain facets come into consideration for contracting out, but the production must take place in this country alone. It is particularly difficult for a designer to find competent technical support for his creative team. And our clothing factories are struggling with the same problem. In Flanders we must promote craftsmanship to present the bottleneck careers in a more attractive way and motivate young people to choose them. We must see to it that in the perception of the people, the fashion industry comes over more dynamically, fresher and sexier. We must show positive narratives with images. We must involve designers and passionate patternmakers and manufacturers who believe in this, etc. In this sense we are at present working out a pilot project. If you opt for training as a pattern maker, sewer/seamstress, retoucher and production attendant, you will support the creative process and you will be an essential link in the creative team. Moreover … you will be opting for one of the parade horses from the Flemish racing stable: fashion. In this way you will contribute to the success of our creative industry, which has an excellent quality image abroad. “Knowledge” workers must also mean for Flanders: people who have the technical knowledge and skills to support the creative careers. Only then the young people will feel obliged to study in the field of technical careers to support our creative industry. “There is a college for every mind” is what I mean literally here. Not everybody need be academics. I also believe very strongly in cluster forming. If we want to keep on producing our region further, then we must search - especially on the designing side. That requires other structures. Co-operation of industries, inter alia in the form of knowledge and industry clusters, is a requirement for this. You must not do together what you can do alone, but … sometimes you must work together to achieve what you cannot succeed on your own. Such co-operation must be steered by the different actors from the fashion industry, with complementary competencies and the same level of ambition. One does not co-operate with reference to one project alone. It requires a long-term commitment and the same strategic vision on the part of the players. “Flanders in Action”, the strategic plan with

which Flemish Minister President Kris Peeters wants to give Flanders a durable place in the European regions, with the focus on talent, innovation, internationalisation, is the ideal hat stand on which to hang increased cooperation in the fashion industry. If ViA really wants to set work in motion aimed at a mental shift which is essential for coming out on top lastingly in the future and to resolutely set the course towards social-economic changes, the fashion industry is the case to be. The Flanders Fashion Institute (FFI), a non-profit association, was founded in 1998 with the support of the Flemish Government. The FFI, which is established in the fashion metropolis Antwerp, is the centre of knowledge for the fashion sector in Flanders. Their priority objectives are to stimulate employment in the fashion sector and promote fashion from Flanders on the national and international scene. The FFI is, in the first instance, for the graduated young and already established designers of the fashion departments in Belgium. The FFI is also the link to the creative network of photographers, graphic designers, cosmeticians, etc. The FFI receives the needs of the designers and provides them with suitable solutions. Together with a number of passionate fashion business consultants, the core team of the FFI accompanies the designers in their careers and towards independent entrepreneurship. “Jobs.Jobs.Jobs” is the online platform on this site for job offers, assignments and stages in the fashion sector for creative, supporting and other functions. Candidate job seekers can make themselves known to the FFI. The Flanders Fashion Institute is the contact point for enterprises that are seeking access to the world of designers and want to link themselves to fashion. The FFI facilitates innovative, creative projects with national and international radiation and builds a bridge between creative design talent and business.

Best of Belgium

125


Fashion

A Selection of Belgian Designers Romy Smits, couture artist Romy Smits is autodidact and she designs for private clients in her salon in Antwerp. Over the years, Romy has developed her philosophy through stylistic, functional and material-expressive means. Her bespoke designs, innovative concepts, symbolic images, personal styling, fabrics and couture art are based on feelings and intuition. Combining modernism and authenticity, artistic inspiration and creativity in harmony with the natural universe, she aims to depict the very fine line between intuition and shape, which connects emotions and objects. She has developed innovative concepts and designs for companies including : Lexus, Peugeot, royal Windsor hotel Brussels, L’Oreal, Libeco home, Dutch textile museum, Natuzzi. www.romysmits.com

Johanne Riss Born in the north of France, passing by Paris, she established in Brussels, capital of Europe, her head office and started to design with passion. Modern and efficient, Johanne Riss tries to transmit in her style a timeless feminity. She creates ready-to-wear but also wedding dresses, evening dresses, smoking, accessories and jewelry. Her colours : Black and White with new and different colors all seasons. Working woman, her creations are perfect for the actual woman who wants to be stylish. She

126

Best of Belgium

works with stretch fabrics to have always more comfort and with silk and muslin for the elegance. Her outfits are always feminin, purified and can be accessorized in different way. Meticulous, all the clothes are created in her own workshop in Brussels. She can so easy adjust her creations for her customers and offer « made by order » too. Perfectionist, she creates, she tries, and is always present for her customers. Her creations recall lightness, transparence and purity.


Jean Paul Knott Jean-Paul Knott has the wandering spirit, he is Belgian, grew up in New York and worked in Paris and Brussels. He spent 11 years assisting Yves Saint Laurent, worked as artistic director at Krizia and at Louis Féraud and created costumes for Maurice Béjart’s ballets.  He became artistic director for Cerruti in October 2007 and presented his collection JEANPAULKNOTT and his Japanese collection KNOTT GALERIE…VIE. In January

2008 he was invited to participate in the official Couture calendar. In his work, JEANPAULKNOTT explores the silhouette. A combination of nonchalance and elegance became his signature. He doesn’t combine masculine and feminine, Couture and prêt-à-porter.  He inspires to travel, folding and transformation and gladly takes part in collaborations with his artist friends.

Sandrina Fasoli The creative duet formed by Sandrina Fasoli and Michael Marson is the spirit behind this new fashion name. Both graduated from the École nationale des Arts visuels de la Cambre, Sandrina and Michael have their own vision on fashion, a very special approach based on unveiled femininity and melancholic innocence. Both creative and visual, this approach enables Sandrina and Michael to explore the world of women by experimenting with different materials, by changing the function of clothes and boldly using the concept of pretence. This very vision of femininity will bring national and international professional recognition and press coverage to the fashion duet (Grand Prix at the International Festival of Fashion Arts at Hyères, in 2003; Weekend Fashion Award, Modo Bruxellae Prize 2006; Winner of Mango Fashion Awards 07). Motivated by this professional recognition, they will pursue their creative quest over the seasons and present several collections and projects building up a signature style and a poetic and nostalgic mood. Their first collection was a hit in Japan and Korea and the new collection 2007 is now available in Brussels, Paris, as well as in Japan and the USA.

Best of Belgium

127


Economy and Industry

Christa Reniers Christa Reniers is one of Belgium’s leading contemporary jewellery designers. Her creations include an exclusive selection of rings, bracelets, earrings, necklaces, and chokers, available both in sterling silver and 18K gold. The designs are inspired by natural, organic shapes and give pure, and quite unique sculptural forms. You can see her work in one of her 3 own shops: in Brussels, Antwerp or Ghent, and while each outlet is beautifully distinctive, all are a reflection of Christa’s personality: mid20th century inspired with a contemporary feel. Each one has been designed by the renowned Belgian architect Frank De Groeve, to give an atmosphere that is exclusive, yet intimate and inviting. Remarkably, you can browse openly through most of the collection, even trying many of the creations on, freely. A visit is truly worthwhile and an experience in itself. Production and final finish are done in her own workshop, located in the heart of Brussels. The collection grows regularly, and so repeat visits are a must.

Françoise Pendville Françoise Pendville has always been an inspiring person. She started out as a teacher in a Freinet school; the first clothes she made were raincoats for children that adapted to their movements. Her strength is to alter, transform and make unique pieces. She also likes to experiment with materials and reuse them in a creative way. Françoise’s famous raincoats launched her style in Belgium in the early 1990’s before she felt the need to further develop her collection. The quality of the fabrics, the concern for details and the purity of the shapes define Françoise Pendville’s style. For Françoise every collection tells a story, which carries everyone in an imaginary

128

Best of Belgium

world. These stories are creative works where discovery and talent are key words. Since 2001, Françoise’s atelier is set in a lovely Atelier/Bureau/Boutique. It is an old industrial magical place where Françoise explores her creativity. Françoise Pendville is surrounded by a passionate team which supports and helps her to move grow as an artist. The brand is today distributed and/or represented in France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Russia, Germany, the UK, Ireland, Greece, Italy, Switzerland, Australia, South Africa and the United States. Françoise lives in Brussels, is married and has 2 children.

www.christareniers.com


Le Fabuleux Marcel de Bruxelles Kaat Blommaert did not study fashion. Indeed, she ran her own beauty salon for more than 15 years. But sometimes in life you just want to start again. Some do it by buying a new car, find a new partner or change their hair color but Kaat kept her black hair. It all started with an idea on holiday close to Saint-Tropez. Today, you can find Le Fabuleux Marcel de Bruxelles in the greatest shops from Saint Tropez to Dubai and from Brussels to New York. Kaat and her husband were always heavy users of singlets. That fabulous day on holiday, with an empty bottle of red wine in front of them, they decided to make their own singlets. They came back to Brussels, not knowing anything about fashion, but strongly believing in their idea: Making the best and coolest singlets in the world.

Nina Meert Nina MEERT has always seen clothing as a sculptural movement of the body in space. An approach that revolves around the notion of aesthetics, comfort, natural materials, subtlety of tone, the rejection of the dictates of fashion. The result is a collection of pure and timeless beauty… She rejects the concept of trends that play on the ephemeral, negating her deeply-held truth values. Nina Meert creates unique pieces for women with their own style. “In sixty years, the world has changed on every level: architecture, art, fashion, nature, ecology. We have entered the era of image without depth. I refuse to be a part of it.”, the creator confides. With her collections, Nina MEERT moves towards a different perspective, of authenticity and respect for women. “Wearing clothes is part of one’s wellbeing” Nina Meert claims with defiance. “Every woman should dress according to her identity, not the vague rules of fleeting trends. Fashion is an evolution, not a revolution, adapting, among other things, to the advances of technology. It cannot be ephemeral and should be perceived as an everyday pleasure and seduction.” Nina Meert’s creations take you on a journey through natural fabrics such as linnnen, architectural lines, and warm tones. They are sold all over the world and in her own boutiques in Brussels and Paris. They are made for women of all ages and cultures, offering them the freedom and harmony of the body.

Best of Belgium

129


Fashion

Belgian Fashion: Adored throughout the World

Oni Onik

Linea Raffaelli

Since decades Belgium is known for its fashion industry. The Academies of Antwerp and Brussels (La Cambre) bring forth well renowned designers who are known and loved throughout the world. Behind these designers is an industry of clothing and apparel which equals quality, craftsmanship and originality. Belgian fashion has become an international trademark.

Van Hassels

The international recognition for Belgian fashion came with the “Six of Antwerp”. Afterwards, the Antwerp Academy generated more new successful generations of Belgian designers and it still does so today. With the establishment of the Flanders Fashion Institute (FFI), the promotion of Belgian fashion was guaranteed. This was also the beginning of a unique project called ModeNatie. This building, a true “fashion temple”, is a public-private cooperation between the city of Antwerp, province of Antwerp (Fashion Museum), Flemish Region and 8 private partners including Creamoda. Creamoda also joined hands with Modo Bruxellae to promote fashion from Brussels.

130

Best of Belgium

Creamoda, the home of Belgian fashion Creamoda is the employers’ association that represents manufacturers, designers,


Red&Blu

Main characteristics of the clothing and apparel industry The sector of clothing and apparel is a very labour-intensive one. The majority of companies are family-owned

businesses, small to medium sized and environmentally-friendly. On the one hand, the industry experiences a tough international competition especially from Asian countries. On the other hand, the clothing and apparel industry is very export-oriented. Nowadays, several Belgian brands are sold throughout the world and well-known by many people. Belgian fashion is exported to several countries; however, the top 5 is France, Germany, the Netherlands, United Kingdom and Spain. Key figures of the clothing and apparel industry At present, 17.677 people are working in the clothing and apparel industry of which 70% are blue collar and 30% white collar workers. 75% of all employees are women. The majority of companies are located in

Just in Case

Pluto

Caroline Biss Yulin

wholesalers and agencies active in the Belgian fashion and ready-to-wear industry. The federation was established in 1946 to unite the employers of this industry. To defend and advise its members in all areas of economic life is one of the principal missions of Creamoda. This vast task notably includes social mediation and information, technical support, advice in international trading matters and commercial support as well as madeto-measure service. Promoting Belgian fashion on national and international level is another vital task of Creamoda.

Flanders (85%) of which 60% are based in East and West Flanders. One of the main problems for the Belgian clothing and apparel companies is the high labour cost. This has forced numerous companies to take their production abroad in order to stay competitive on international level. In 2006 clothing alone represented a turnover of 1.8 billion euro. If apparel is added, the turnover amounts to 2.4 billion euro of which 70% was generated by export.

Creamoda Leliegaarde 22 1731 Zellik Tel: 02/238 10 11 Fax: 02/238 10 10 E-mail: info@creamoda.be www.creamoda.be

Best of Belgium

131


Education is the best provision for old age.

Š www.douglasmoors.be

Aristotle (384 BC - 322 BC)


Chapter 7 Education


Education

The Belgian Knowledge Economy

© Juhanson

Professor Marc Vervenne, Rector University of Leuven

During the “March 2000 Summit” in Lisbon, the European Heads of State and the Government leaders accepted the challenge of transforming Europe into the world’s leading knowledge economy by 2010. Indeed, innovative knowledge will be the driving force for prosperity and wellbeing in this new millennium. The speed and intensity at which new scientific and technological developments are transformed into socially

134

Best of Belgium

and economically relevant activities have obviously been attested. Many regions in Europe, the United States, and increasingly in Asia claim to have a regional competitive advantage to become successful poles of growth. Also in Belgium, various regions are clearly demonstrating the ambition to play a dynamic and leading role in building up the European knowledge economy of the 21st century. Reference can be made

to the currently dominating growth poles of Leuven, Ghent, Louvain-La-Neuve and Liège. It is clear that the present economic development takes place in close connection to the Belgian universities, research centres and technical institutions. They play a key role in the diffusion of the “state of the art” of the scientific and technical knowledge in, among others, information technology, bio-medical sciences, nanotechnology


Professor Marc Vervenne Rector University of Leuven (K.U.Leuven)

and genomics. This knowledge is diffused throughout the existing Belgian industry, and it also generates more and more high-tech start-ups.For success in these new endeavours, we not only need to train scientists and engineers, but also experts in legal aspects, management, intellectual property, marketing and sales. Moreover, expertise in novel ways of financing, such as seed and venture

capital, are be required. In the maturity stage, some of the new innovative companies go for an initial public offering. From the “Leuven Knowledge Economy Model” we have learned that the success of the knowledge economy regions largely depends on the following parameters: - presence of a critical mass of high quality research sources;

- presence of an entrepreneurial climate, with entrepreneur role models; - presence of a legal framework for exploitation of scientific research; - clear policy and incentives to encourage research groups to actively seek knowledge transfer opportunities; - presence of a professional interface unit (transfer cell) providing an integrated approach of research valorisation, which can result in spinoffs, contract research and creation of patents (intellectual property); - presence of sufficient seed and venture capital; - clear ownership of intellectual property; - increased awareness among federal, state and local stakeholders; - presence of excellent networks; - enthusiasm and a high quality of life. In conclusion, I would like to state that several regions in Belgium fulfil the aforementioned criteria and can, therefore, position themselves as outstanding “Knowledge Economy Regions” on the European map. Professor Marc Vervenne Rector University of Leuven (K.U.Leuven)

Best of Belgium

135


Education

AIS: Leading Education in an Expanding Expat Community Antwerp offers expat families a wealth of advantages, from convenient commutes, to affordable housing, to a welcoming international community. Education is, of course, a top priority for expats, so the Antwerp International School is a keystone in Antwerp’s position as a growing expat destination.

Family concerns are one of the top determiners of the success or failure of an expat experience, and schooling for children is at the centre of this issue. That’s why a school like the Antwerp International School—which focuses on both the academic and personal development of each child—is such a critical factor in how attractive a potential new city is for expatriates, and therefore for their companies. In 2007-2008, the Antwerp International School celebrated its 40th academic year.

136

Best of Belgium

Located a few kilometres north of Antwerp’s city centre, it provides a top-level, Englishlanguage learning environment to students from pre-school through grade 12, offering both a standard high school diploma and the International Baccalaureate diploma. Established in 1967, AIS is one of four international schools in Belgium, and the only one in the important expat community of Antwerp. Over the years, it has grown from 67 students to its current population of 600 students from 35 nationalities. In 1972, the school was the first institution to receive

academic accreditation from the European Council of International Schools, and later became the first school in the world to be accredited three times by the Council. This constant evaluation ensures that AIS remains a high quality school, and that transcripts and diplomas are recognised universally. The 80 faculty members represent 10 different nationalities, in a 1:9 teacherto-student ratio. With the school’s six buildings housing 45 classrooms, four science laboratories, a library, three computer centres, English as a Second


Language and Learning support classrooms, counsellors’ offices, nurses rooms, a new gymnasium complex, a Fine Arts Centre and an attached theatre with music classes, a large multi-purpose area, a kitchen and cafeteria and three playgrounds on its tenacre campus, expats children can also maximise the opportunities of living abroad. AIS’s dedicated staff members ensure that each child receives the personal attention he or she needs. Children are valued as individuals and taught to work together in a multi-cultural atmosphere of mutual respect and tolerance. The learning approach is student-centred, and the curriculum focuses on teaching the importance of understanding, academic discipline, service, the arts and good health. Students have opportunities to work both individually and collaboratively, in order to learn to solve problems, meet challenges and develop respect for the perspectives of others. Students’ social, physical, emotional and intellectual development are all addressed. The school takes full advantage of the diversity of the student and faculty bodies. Every other year, on International Day, each nationality shares its culture, food, customs and costumes with each other. The school encourages an active Parent Teacher Organisation (PTO). The PTO assists new families to integrate into the community, thanks to conversation groups, sports and other classes, and social and networking events. To prepare students for continuing education anywhere in the world, AIS offers the International Baccalaureate (IB). These high quality international education programs connect AIS to a worldwide community of over 2,300 schools in 128 countries. IB retains an important function in providing access to an internationally recognised curriculum around the world. Diploma students take six core subjects over two years. They choose three “higher level” subjects comprising 240 hours of teaching, and three “standard

level” subjects with 150 hours of teaching. All diploma students take Theory of Knowledge as a seventh subject. IB candidates also have 150 hours of Creativity, Action and Service (CAS) over two years. This is an integral part of the IB program, providing a balance with academics to enable students to express values such as caring, commitment, generosity and solidarity. Students are encouraged to take part in artistic and sporting activities and in community service, at home and abroad. AIS offers the CAS program from the 10th grade. IB candidates also complete a 4,000 word research essay on a subject of their choice. Each student has a supervisor who assists him or her in developing a hypothesis and who follows through in the research process. Diploma students find the essay one of the most valuable parts of their preparation for their continuing education. AIS’s location in Antwerp is no accident. “In Antwerp, we are in a unique position to take advantage of the cultural heritage of Belgium and the adjacent countries, to promote an understanding and respect for other cultures and customs,” notes MS and HS Principal Steve Petra. The city’s convenient position and excellent standard of living make it a desirable destination for expats. Antwerp

benefits from an excellent transport infrastructure and ideal location. Brussels is only 45 kilometres away, while Amsterdam, Düsseldorf, Cologne, Luxembourg, London, Strasbourg, and Paris are all less than 500 kilometres away. The city is within easy reach of numerous motorways connecting it to the rest of Europe. Two international airports (Zaventem/Brussels and Antwerp) are within a 30 minute drive. One of the greatest strengths of the local workforce is its language skills. According to Antwerp Chamber of Commerce, most of the city’s workers speak English, French, German and Dutch, making it even easier for expats to fit in immediately. With over 3,000 restaurants and bars, and about 35 museums, 6 concert halls and 29 theatres, and, of course, the Antwerp International School, Antwerp offers a very high quality of life for all members of the expat family.

VZW Antwerp International School Veltwijcklaan 180 2180, Ekeren-Antwerp BELGIUM Tel. +32 3 543 93 00 Fax +32 3 541 82 01 E-mail: marketinganddevelopment@ais-antwerp.be

Best of Belgium

137


The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don’t want, drink what you don’t like, and do what you’d rather not.

© www.marionkahane.com

Mark Twain (1835 - 1910)


Chapter 8 Healthcare


Healthcare

Belgium: International Centre of Medical Excellence

© Marion Kahane

Healthcare Belgium is a non-profit organisation, established in 2007 by 11 of the most prominent and important Belgian hospital groups. The organisation receives large support from Agfa Healthcare, Dexia Bank, the Federation of Enterprises in Belgium (VBO-FEB) and Virtual Colonoscopy Teaching Centre (VCTC).

Belgium: International Centre of Medical Excellence Belgium’s health service is known for its easy accessibility and high quality treatments. With four doctors per 1 000 inhabitants, Belgium is well above the OECD 2.9 average. Belgian hospitals are equipped with advanced technology and run by highly qualified staff. They provide optimal care in the best conditions and have considerable capacity. The Belgian health care system is well-connected, with

140

Best of Belgium

a large number of specialised centres and internationally renowned doctors. Furthermore, various Belgian companies have become international players in the medical equipment and software sectors. Healthcare Belgium’s objectives: • Make Belgium known as an International centre of medical excellence. • Foster the international development of Belgian telemedicine. • Provide information on Belgian

medical services to foreign patients and health care providers in an ethical and coordinated way. • Ensure that patients from abroad can rely on a high quality range of services at a fair price and that they are taken care of in a professional manner from initial contact to repatriation. Telemedicine New broadband technologies make it now perfectly possible to offer longdistance specialised medical services to


facilities. Agfa HealthCare has over a century of healthcare experience related to diagnostic imaging and has been a pioneer on the healthcare IT market since the early 1990’s. Over the years, Agfa HealthCare has demonstrated its capacity to successfully support its customers’ technological challenges, and to guide them in their transition from analog to digital to IT solutions. Today, Agfa HealthCare is a global Imaging Informatics leader with over 2 000 installations (PACS, RIS, CVIS) worldwide and a European healthcare Enterprise IT leader with systems installed in 1 200 European hospitals and 1 000 laboratories. The company is also a pioneer in the e-health arena, with solutions linking thousands of General Practitioners to healthcare providers.

patients and healthcare providers abroad. Belgium offers the services of top-level laboratories in broadband and medical imaging technology cooperating closely with world-class medical centres that focus on telemedicine. For example, Virtual Colonoscopy Teaching Centre (VCTC) offers a unique combination of education through e-learning and advice through teleradiology. This way, it provides radiologists with education and hospitals with cutting edge techniques. Telediagnosis can

also be used in other areas such as clinical pathology, orthodontics and dermatology, as well as providing a second opinion for complex cases. Agfa HealthCare: Agfa HealthCare, a member of the Agfa-Gevaert Group, is a leading provider of IT-enabled clinical workflow and diagnostic image management solutions, and state-of-the-art systems for capturing and processing images in hospitals and healthcare

11 Hospitals/ Hospital Groups: Healthcare Belgium represents the following hospital groups, all of which are non-profit associations: • Antwerp Hospital Network (ZNA) • Antwerp University Hospital (UZA) • Brussels Europe Hospitals • Brussels Saint-Luc University Hospital • Brussels University Hospital (UZ Brussel) • Edith Cavell Interregional Hospital Group (CHIREC) • Ghent University Hospital (UZ Gent) • Imelda Hospital • Leuven University Hospitals (UZ Leuven) • Monica General Hospital Antwerp • Onze-Lieve-Vrouw Hospital Aalst The variety of services provided by its members’ centres of excellence allows Healthcare Belgium to offer the best quality medical care for a very wide range of treatments including: • Bariatric Surgery/Obesity Surgery • Cardiology/Cardiothoracic Surgery • Gynaecology/Obstetrics • Neurosurgery • Ophthalmology/Eye Surgery • Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery • Orthopaedic Surgery • Otorhinolaryngology (ORL) • Paediatrics/Paediatric Surgery • Radiotherapy/Oncology • Reproductive Medicine • Treatment of Diabetes • Treatment of Liver and Biliary Diseases • Urology • Vascular Surgery

Best of Belgium

141


Brussels Saint-Luc University Hospital

High resolution 3.0-Tesla Magnetic Resonance Imaging apparel

Cardiology and Cardiothoracic Surgery

Agfa-Gevaert

Brussels Saint-Luc University Hospital The surgery division addresses and treats the full spectrum of pathologies. A broad range of surgery is performed, including the full arterial revascularisations for coronary surgery, the systematic repair of aortic and mitral valve with degenerative disease (>95%), the full options of techniques for valve replacement, heart transplant programmes and artificial heart programmes, paediatric and congenital surgery, endovascular unit for stent graft, and more. Prof. Gebrine El Khoury, MD, heads the Cardiac Surgery Department, and is recognised as one of the pioneering surgeons of the aortic valve repair. The department is one of the most active centres for valve disease and is considered as a school in cardiac surgery as illustrated by the number of visitors

142

Best of Belgium


© Antwerp Hospital Network

El Khoury’s team receives on a daily basis, their active participation in the most important international meetings (live surgery, lectures, post graduate courses) and the yearly organisation of three international meetings. Antwerp Hospital Network The department of cardiology consists of 3 wards with 100 beds, a noninvasive and an invasive section. It is equipped with four cathlabs, a large outpatient clinic, a Centre for Cardiac Rehabilitation and a Heart Failure Clinic. The team comprises thirteen cardiologists. Frank Van den Branden, MD, FESC heads the Cardiology Department and Philip Van Cauwelaert, MD, heads the Cardiac Surgery Department.

Patients are admitted in three different units, shared by cardiologists and surgeons, according to their heart or vascular problem. This enables an optimal multidisciplinary approach for the whole spectrum of pathologies. One of the units is dedicated to short admissions. Imelda is a leading centre for the treatment of atrial fibrillation by radiofrequency ablation. Four years ago, a unique anatomo-functional approach was developed by the team.

Brussels University Hospital The Centre for Heart and Vascular Diseases (CHVZ) has become an indispensable player on the health care scene in Belgium. Both locally and abroad, it is considered to be a leading institution where extensive medical expertise is combined with patient-friendly service in order to achieve genuine high-quality care. The CHVZ has extensive experience of ablation treatment in Belgium. It is the only centre in Belgium and the third in Europe to perform electromagnetic navigation ablation. Prof. Guy Van Camp, MD, is the head of the Cardiology Department; Prof. Pedro Brugada, MD, PHD is the head of the Heart Rhythm Management Centre and Prof. Francis Wellens, MD, is the head of the Surgery Department.

Onze-Lieve-Vrouw Hospital Aalst The Cardiology Centre has a high scientific research activity and is recognised as such by the Belgian government. A high number of cardiologists from all over the world are trained in this centre. To support the research activity and education, the Cardiology Division has its own Cardiac Research Fund, an element of the “King Baudouin foundation”. Several members of the staff are key opinion leaders and serve as course directors, chairmen and speakers in numerous international meetings. Erik Andries, MD, is the founder and Chairman of the Cardiology Division. He has guided the Cardiovascular Division to its position as a centre of excellence with an international reputation in the domain of clinical and interventional cardiology, electrophysiology and cardiac rehabilitation. The Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery unit was founded in 1980 by Hugo Vanermen, MD, head of the department and introducer of new technologies in the field of cardiac surgery and developer of totally endoscopic cardiac surgery.  

Imelda Hospital Imelda has one of the most active centres for heart and vascular diseases in Belgium. It has the first fully integrated heart and vascular centre in Belgium.

Antwerp University Hospital Antwerp University Hospital’s cardiologists, cardiac surgeons, interventional radiologists and vascular surgeons work together to deliver the most comprehensive care for

patients with complex disorders of the heart, blood vessels and circulation. Antwerp University Hospital hosts the largest centre for extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) in Belgium, a procedure that makes use of an artificial heart-lung machine to temporarily take over the cardio-respiratory function. Since 1996, the Antwerp Heart Centre has run a successful heart transplant program with over 100 transplants performed and excellent survival results. Prof. Christiaan Vrints, MD, has headed the department of cardiology since 1998. As the medical director of the largest centre for interventional cardiology in Belgium, Prof. Vrints focuses on non-surgical procedures to treat cardiovascular diseases. Leuven University Hospitals The departments of Cardiology and Cardiac Surgery of the University Hospitals Leuven are well established since 1957. With more than 1 200 open-heart procedures annually they constitute the largest cardiovascular centre in Belgium. The centre has 33 intensive care beds (post-operative and ICCU), 15 medium care beds and 4 wards with 152 beds. The close collaboration between cardiologists, cardiac surgeons, intensivists, nursing staff, physical therapists, exercise physiologists and registered dieticians guarantees an optimal integrated care of the cardiac patient from arrival at the hospital until discharge and, if needed, into outpatient rehabilitation. The high influx of patients and the availability of the newest devices and diagnostic techniques allow for ample clinical and technical experience. Internationally renowned Prof. Frans Van de Werf, MD, FESC, FACC, FAHA, heads the cardiology department and Prof. Bart Meyns, MD, heads the cardiac surgery department.

Best of Belgium

143


Healthcare © Marion Kahane

Reproductive Medicine Reproductive medicine is incontestably one of the medical areas which defines Belgian medical excellence. For over twenty years, Belgian specialists have made huge contributions to the development of new fertilisation techniques. Moreover, Belgian legislation concerning reproductive medicine is one of the most flexible.

© Brussels University Hospital

Reproduction Health Centre of the Brussels University Hospital The Reproduction Health Centre (RHC) has been operational within Brussels University Hospital since 1983. It has achieved leadership status, both nationally and internationally. In 2005, the RHC achieved the threshold of 10 000 babies born from parents treated at the centre. With more than 4 000 IVF cycles per year, the RHC is by far the largest centre in Belgium, and the second largest in Europe.

144

Best of Belgium

The centre conducts groundbreaking scientific research. It was instrumental in the development of ICSI, the revolutionary fertilisation technique, which involves one sperm being injected into the egg cell. It is the largest and most pioneering centre for reproductive medicine in Belgium: 8 European and World premieres in 20 years. The RHC is one of the few centres to have obtained the ISO 15189 quality certificate. Prof. Paul Devroey, MD, is the head of the department, which counts more than 120 collaborators. Among Devroey’s most outstanding research achievements is his participation in the discovery of ICSI. Leuven University Fertility Centre (LUFC) The Leuven University Fertility Centre is a pioneer in several areas. The first IVF baby in Belgium was born in 1984 in LUFC. Today, more than 1 000 new infertile couples are seen every year.


Fertility Centre of the Antwerp Hospital Network The ZNA Fertility Centre has always had an excellent reputation both in clinical research and results. The centre is a pioneer in the successful introduction of single embryo transfer and has gained an international reputation which is illustrated by numerous publications in peer reviewed journals. The centre recently acquired the ISO 9001:2000 certificate for “Complete patient care dedicated to their needs and expectations in Reproductive Medicine (health care program B)”. Diane De Neubourg, MD, was appointed medical director in 2006. She has been working in the ZNA Fertility Centre since 1998 and is active in the Registry Committee of the Belgian College of Specialists in Reproductive Medicine (quality control) and is an active member of the Special Interest Group on Safety and Quality in ART of ESHRE. Eric Van Royen, MD, is head of the IVF/ICSI laboratory which he established in 1993. He is actively involved in scientific research in the field of single embryo transfer. The laboratory was one of the first to start single embryo transfer based on the characterisation of the embryo with the highest implantation potential. IVF Reference Centre in the Ghent University Hospital Ghent University Hospital was one of the first IVF centres in Europe and over the last 20 years it has become a reference centre nationally and internationally: 40% of the patients treated here have travelled from other countries in the world. The centre holds special expertise in artificial activation of oocytes, a technique used to obtain pregnancy in situations where ICSI has failed. The research program of the centre has been focusing on oocyte activation for the past ten years. Ghent University Hospital was also among the first to implement “single embryo transfer” and holds the ISO 9001:2000 certificate, proof of its concern with safety and quality issues of assisted reproduction.

© Brussels University Hospital

The LUFC is the first Centre for Reproductive Medicine in the Benelux that received the ISO 9001-2000 Certificate for High Quality Care for patients with fertility problems. The Departments of Obstetrics, Gynaecology and LUFC are world famous for their clinical and research programs in endometriosis, including laparoscopic surgery of advanced endometriosis involving the bowel and urethers. The LUFC has an internationally renowned centre for research related to stress and infertility. Leuven University is part of the League of European Research Universities including Oxford, Cambridge, Leiden, Karolinska and Geneva. Leuven University Hospital is one of Europe’s largest and best teaching hospitals.

In the IVF reference centre, professors Marc Dhont, MD, Petra De Sutter, MD, and Jan Gerris, MD, are the leading specialists. Together with about 50 co-workers, they set an example of how a modern fertility centre with a human face should operate in today’s world. Innovative technology, empathic patient care and top results go hand in hand, and the high number of foreign patients treated here bear testimony to this. Gynaecology Centre, Brussels Saint-Luc University Hospital The gynaecology department is a highly specialised centre for Endoscopy (minimally invasive diagnostic medical procedure) and in particular the treatment of endometriosis with the CO2 Laser. Pioneers for over 25 years in in-vitro fertilisation, the centre offers all medical assisted reproduction treatments with a success rate of 40% on every attempt on young women. The centre obtained the first pregnancy in the world after a frozen ovarian tissue graft. With the objective of preserving fertility, this gynaecology department has created the largest ovarian tissue and ovaries bank worldwide. Prof. Jacques Donnez, MD, heads the Gynaecology and Andrology department since 1985. Author of several world premieres, he is currently the Scientific Director at WES (World

Endometriosis Society) and the President of the ISFP (International Society for Preserving Fertility). CHIREC’s Assisted Reproduction Centre This Centre has over twenty years of experience in assisted reproduction technology. Some of its physicians were involved in Belgium’s first successful use of this technology in 1983. Prof. Bernard Lejeune, MD, is the Director of the Unit and Chair of the Gynaecology Department. He is currently President of the College of Physicians for Reproductive Medicine of the Belgian government. He has published several papers on reproductive technologies in international peer reviewed journals. The CHIREC’s Assisted Reproduction Centre (ARC) is performing the most advanced assisted human reproduction methods such as: IVF, ICSI, IMSI, Blastocyst culture, Assisted Hatching, Vitrification of embryos and oocytes.

Healthcare Belgium VZW/ASBL Stuiversstraat 8 Rue des Sols 1000 Brussels – Belgium Tel: +32(0)2 515 09 38 Fax: +32(0)2 515 09 39 E-mail:contact@healthcarebelgium.com www.healthcarebelgium.com

Best of Belgium

145


Success in business requires training and discipline and hard work. But if youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re not frightened by these things, the opportunities are just as great today as they ever were.

Š Charline Lancel

David Rockefeller (1915 - )


Chapter 9 Economy and Industry


Economy and Industry

Riding out the Global Slowdown

© Christophe Ketels / Compagnie Gagarine

Soaring oil prices have fuelled a global economic slowdown and curbed GDP growth, but Belgium’s stable, diversified economy is well-placed to ride out the current economic conditions.

The soaring cost of oil is causing growing strain to economies around the world and Belgium is no exception. With oil prices more than doubling in the past year to a record US$145 a barrel in early July 2008, the impact is being felt acutely by consumers and businesses alike. Businesses in the manufacturing industry in particular are feeling the pinch with the National Bank of Belgium’s June

148

Best of Belgium

business confidence index showing a sharp drop in confidence in this industry, while business indicators edged upwards in construction and trade. The economy ministry’s Federal Planning Bureau recently published its annual medium and long-term projections for Belgium, revising its 2008 and 2009 GDP growth figures down in line with the current slowdown. The ministry said that the latest figures were

compiled “in a context of considerable turbulence in financial markets as a result of the crisis in the US housing market, a sharp rise in oil prices and other commodities”. The figures show that Belgium’s GDP growth is expected to slow to 1.7% in 2008 and 2009 down from 2.7% in 2007. The figures are much closer to those of the euro area, which is expected to show 1.6% and 1.5% growth in the next two years.


The current slowdown in GDP growth can be largely attributed to the steep fuel and food price increases, which saw Belgium’s year-on-year inflation rate hitting a 24-year high of 5.8% in June 2008. The National Bank of Belgium (NBB) estimates that the average inflation rate for 2008 will be just under 4% and that this will ease to an average of 1.9% in 2009. However, the current figure is well above what was

expected following successful inflationtargeting in 2007 and reflects the “sensitivity of the energy component to oil prices in Belgium, some administered tariff increases for electricity and gas and the somewhat larger impact of the food price shocks”. Two sectors feeling the impact of the fuel increases are agriculture and transport. In early July 2008, hundreds of Belgian farmers, truckers and taxi

drivers blocked roads into Brussels on the eve of an EU summit to push leaders for help coping with the skyrocketing fuel prices. While the government is unlikely to give in to demands for fuel subsidies, the impact of these price shocks on the economy is expected to dissipate over the coming months. Business and consumers alike can take comfort in the stability and diversity of the Belgian economy over the past year, which serves as a cushion against possible global knock-on effects. In 2007, despite fears that the global credit crunch would have downward implications for the Belgian economy, the country out-paced most expectations, posting 2.7% GDP growth. The NBB argues that the Belgian economy withstood the turmoil on the world markets in 2007, triggered by the crisis on the US subprime mortgage market and fears about over-exposure from financial institutions, thanks to high private consumption, corporate investments, exports and improvement in the labour market. Further signs of resilience in the Belgian economy were shown by increases in corporate investments, up by 5 % as a result of the increased use of production capacity and higher profits; an improvement of 2.5% in private consumption and purchasing power in real terms, a stabilisation of the savings ration at around 12.5% and the creation of 70,000 new jobs in the economy. Economic reports also showed that the Brussels region is the 3rd richest metropolitan area in Europe, while the port of Antwerp grew by an impressive 10% in 2007, handling 182 million tonnes of freight. Unemployment in Belgium decreased by 7 % in 2007 with twice as many jobs being created in 2007 as in 2006. Belgian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) were responsible for the bulk of the new jobs created and structural employment in SMEs (excluding temporary jobs or student jobs) grew by 3.5 % in 2007, compared to 1.7 % in 2006. These new jobs in turn, resulted in a rise in purchasing power. Even with the current dip in GDP growth, the economy is expected to create 42,000 jobs annually in the next two years. The economy ministry also predicts that despite posting a fiscal deficit of between 0.3% and 0.9% of GDP in 2008 and 2009, the country’s debt will continue to drop, reaching 70.8% of GDP by 2013. As the economy ministry and the NBB’s figures show, Belgium will enjoy “less strong” growth in 2008 and 2009 but the economy will pick up again thereafter with forecasts of 2.2% GDP growth for the 2010-2013 period.

Best of Belgium

149


Enjoy doing Business in Belgium Guy Quaden, Governor of the National Bank of Belgium

Belgium has a long-established position as a highly competitive economy and a prime destination for investors from all corners of the world. The importance of foreign direct investment in the country is clear proof of this reputation: between 2003 and 2006, it

150

Best of Belgium

represented about 12% of gross domestic product, one of the highest levels recorded among the advanced countries. The degree of openness to foreign trade is exceptionally high, reaching some 48% in 2007. One of the main attractions of the Belgian economy is its


geographical location at the heart of one of the biggest and richest integrated economic areas in the world - the European Union comprising almost 500 million consumers, with direct and rapid connections to the biggest European business centres, such as

London, Frankfurt and Paris. This advantage can be fully exploited thanks to an excellent and extensive infrastructure of transport (airports, sea ports, high speed rail and road links), logistics and telecommunications on which the country has built its reputation. The Belgian economy also benefits from being part of the euro area and its financial markets, where firms are not only able to trade in one single currency but also have access to extremely diversified and competitive sources of financing in a capital market which has now progressed to second place in the world rankings. Belgium is also renowned for its highly skilled and highly productive labour force, with a natural ability to work in a multicultural and multilingual environment. Moreover, the fact that several international institutions, such as NATO, as well as the main EU institutions, namely the European Commission, the European Parliament and the European Council, have their headquarters in Brussels, the country’s capital, encourages strategic decisions to locate investment in Belgium. Its macroeconomic policies guarantee Belgium a stable environment that fosters private initiative. Thanks to the monetary policy conducted by the Eurosystem at the euro area level, the Belgian economy enjoyed price stability during many years. Belgium’s fiscal policy is also committed to stability, since public finances were almost continuously in balance over this period. Furthermore, with a view to guaranteeing the sustainability of public finances over the long term, taking into account the impact of the ageing population on future pension and healthcare expenditure, the stability programme endorsed by the Belgian government provides for a budget surplus to be built up in the medium term. Belgium is also implementing policies designed to modernise the economy and conform it fully to the strategic objective set for the European Union by the EU heads of State or government in Lisbon in 2000, namely to become the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world, capable of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion. Constant efforts are therefore being made to ensure that all markets in the Belgian economy are working with optimum efficiency, as well as to encourage innovation and business start-ups. As regards enterprises more specifically, the most significant measures that have been taken in Belgium in recent years have aimed to establish an attractive fiscal framework for companies investing in Belgium, especially with the deduction of notional interest charges, introduced in 2006. With this scheme, Belgium is the only European country to alleviate the differences in tax treatment

between finance raised through risk capital and finance raised through borrowed capital, by allowing companies to deduct a notional charge (not stated in the accounts) from their tax base that corresponds to a specific percentage of their equity capital. Another measure that is much appreciated by firms in Belgium is the one facilitating the very rapid conclusion of agreements with the tax authorities on rulings valid for up to five years. Other significant measures contributed the last years to drastically lighten the administrative burden on businesses, whether by simplifying or reducing administrative procedures - for instance, the time needed to complete the formalities to set up a business has been slashed from 56 days to just three days - or by systematically using electronic means of communication for accounting, tax and social security matters. The fact that Belgium is part of the European Monetary Union means that particular attention has to be paid to the relative movement in wage costs. Legislation in force since 1996 requires the social partners to take account of wage developments in Belgium’s three main trading partners, namely, Germany, France and the Netherlands, in their biennial round of wage-bargaining. Without undermining the flexibility necessary for wage formation, this framework has made it possible to ensure that wage rises remain moderate, whether in relation to these neighbouring countries or compared with the euro area as a whole. Government policy has also made a contribution here through reductions in tax burden, targeted notably on foreign managers or research workers. The Belgian economy has significant potential for development. Its integration into the euro area and the structural reforms that have been undertaken have most certainly helped to strengthen it, as evidenced by the acceleration of its potential growth rate over the last few years: according to the European Commission’s estimates, that rate rose gradually from 1.9% in 2003 to 2.5% in 2006 and 2007 - a sharper increase than in the euro area as a whole, where it has risen from 1.9 to 2.1% over the same period. Last but not least, Belgium offers a quality of life that is the envy of many. Its historical and cultural heritage has had a strong influence across the entire continent and beyond. Brussels has established itself as a capital city of international repute, enlivened by cultural activities that appeal to very diverse and demanding audiences. Moreover, the cost of living in Brussels is still a lot lower than in nearby major capitals. The country has a good many other assets, not least the beauty of its countryside and its excellent gastronomy. Guy Quaden Governor of the National Bank of Belgium

Best of Belgium

151


Economy and Industry

Reforming the State remains a Belgian Imperative

© Christophe Ketels / Compagnie Gagarine

Belgium’s delicately-balanced federal state structure is as Belgian as moules et frites (mussels and fries), luxury chocolate, Tintin and Magritte. Reforming this state structure has become the current political imperative as the long-standing conflict between the country’s two main linguistic groups becomes more acrimonious than ever and threatens to pull the country apart.

One of the big stories in Belgium over the past year has been the political instability at federal level following the June 2007 elections. In those elections, current prime minister Yves Leterme’s Flemish Christian Democrats (CD&V), in alliance with the moderate Flemish nationalist New Flemish Alliance (NVA), defeated former

152

Best of Belgium

prime minister Guy Verhofstadt’s Flemish Liberal Party (Open VLD). With the NVA subsequently withdrawing from the coalition, Leterme was eventually able, after a record 196 days, to obtain a majority vote of confidence with a five-party coalition of his CD&V, its Walloon sister party the CDH, the Francophone Socialist Party (PS), the

Open VLD, and its Wallonian counterpart the MR. The winning alliance campaigned on extending regional autonomy and it has been this regional agenda which has inflamed political sentiments and prevented any lasting stability at federal level. Extending regional autonomy effectively means giving Belgium’s biggest and wealthiest region,


© Christophe Ketels / Compagnie Gagarine

© Christophe Ketels / Compagnie Gagarine

Flanders, more power to run its own affairs while devolving similar economic, industrial and other powers to poorer Wallonie as well as the Brussels Capital Region. BHV issue The most difficult state reform dossier is that of the potential split of Brussels-Halle-

Vilvoorde (BHV), a bilingual electoral district around Brussels within the Dutch-speaking province of Brabant. Unlike Flanders and Wallonie which are each administered by one language group, in BHV voters have the option of voting for candidates from either language group. For the last 18 months Flemish politicians have been calling for an end to this situation in line with a 2003 court ruling. That would stop French-speaking politicians from seeking votes in Flemish areas and effectively end special bilingual rights for some 70,000 French speakers living in Flanders, but outside Brussels. Wallonian legislators on the other hand are blocking these changes, fearing an erosion of their power, and that a divided Belgium would end the subsidies that flow south from richer Flanders. The BHV issue has been a particularly emotive one for both sides. In one incident, Liedekerke, a small town in BHV, controversially sought to bar Frenchspeaking children from school outings such as swimming classes if they can’t speak Dutch. Flemish interior minister Marino Keulen quickly annulled the Leiderkerke decision on school outings, but he too has expressed annoyance at Flemish subsidies to Wallonie. One of Keulen’s officers, Steven Vansteenkiste, was widely quoted in the media complaining about a francophone veto, and the amount of money going from north to south. For both sides there is a lot at stake when Leterme’s government reports back on the progress of the state reform negotiations in mid-July 2008. Any retreat from a regionalist agenda would see Leterme rapidly losing the support of Flemish parties. Belgian

political journalist Peter de Backer sums up the importance of the situation: “The Flemish want and need reforms because that is what they promised their electorate. The French, on the other hand, promised that there would be no reform, because they fear that this will be the end of Belgium.” The international media have been quick to pick up on the threat of Belgium’s demise, and have predicted that the endgame has already started. “Time to call it a day,” declared The Economist cheerily. “Belgium has served its purpose. A praline divorce is in order.” Belgians themselves appear to be more pragmatic about the future of their country with opinion polls showing most Belgians believe that the political leadership, whether led by Leterme or someone else, will “muddle through as usual”. The country has negotiated several rounds of state or “institutional reform” since 1970, which have seen the establishment of the country’s three regions and three cultural communities and Belgium becoming a fullyfledged federal state with various powers devolved to regional and community level. Analysts point to the stability of the economy and to the effective governance at regional level as allowing there to be a fair degree of instability at federal level. And while the likelihood of Belgium bursting in the near future, as predicted by the “België Barst!” graffiti in Liederkerke, is small, the fact that the old antagonisms between the two main groups are out in the open represents a shift in the political landscape. One thing’s for sure: whatever the outcome of the current round of state reform negotiations, no-one can accuse Belgium of being boring.

Best of Belgium

153


Economy and Industry

InBev buys Bud to form World’s Largest Beer-maker

© Christophe Ketels / Compagnie Gagarine

Europe’s biggest brewer InBev has announced it is to merge with U.S. brewing giant Anheuser-Busch to form the world’s largest brewer by volume. The merger of the two brewing giants gives the expanded company an unmatched brand portfolio including the world’s two best-selling beers, Budweiser and Bud Light, and international market leaders Stella Artois and Beck’s.

InBev CEO Carlos Brito will be chief executive officer of the combined company, which will be called Anheuser-Busch InBev. The expanded company will have a leading position on the world’s top five markets — China, the U.S., Russia, Brazil and Germany — and balanced exposure to developed and developing markets. In a statement in July 2008 the companies said the transaction “creates significant profitability potential both in terms of revenue enhancement and cost savings”. The combination is estimated to “yield cost synergies of $1.5 billion annually by 2011 phased in equally over three years”. InBev agreed to pay $70 per share for the maker of Budweiser, up from its original unsolicited bid of $65 per share. This sweetened offer, which effectively means that InBev will be paying $50 billion for the merger, marked a 27% premium to Anheuser’s record-high stock price in October 2002. The combined

154

Best of Belgium

company will generate approximately €22.9 billion in annual net sales and brew about a quarter of the world’s beer. Solvay posts record returns The Solvay Group, a world leader in chemicals, plastics and pharmaceuticals, is continuing its impressive growth and posting record sales and profitability figures. Operating from its international headquarters in Brussels and employing more than 28,000 people worldwide, Solvay had consolidated sales of €9.6 billion in 2007 from its three core areas with operating results (REBIT) up 9% from 2006 at €1.19 billion. Growth in chemicals and plastics was impressive while the Group suffered setbacks in its pharmaceutical division. Recently announced projects in Solvay’s chemical division include expansion in Thailand where the Group is undertaking ground-breaking proprietary technologies in

a hydrogen peroxide megaplant and in an Epicerol industrial unit which will produce epichlorohydrin with natural glycerin. In plastics, the Group is building a world-class vinyls production unit in Russia, which will complement the leadership positions it has built up in South East Asia, Latin America and Europe. In India, Solvay is inaugurating a new manufacturing unit for one of its high value added plastics specialties, Polyetheretherketone (PEEK). Sales in pharmaceuticals remained steady in 2007 but the sector suffered setbacks with the loss of the prescription drug Pantoloc in Canada, negative repercussions from the euro-dollar exchange rate as well as pressure on pricing in several countries and for prescription drugs in Europe. Pharmaceutical sales elsewhere in the world continued strongly with TriCor and Androgel performing excellently in the United States. The sector also suffered a setback in Neuroscience


© Christophe Ketels / Compagnie Gagarine

Bekaert expanding in China Belgian steel cord and wire manufacturer Bekaert is investing €150 million together with major Chinese steel producer Ansteel in the construction of a new steel cord plant in China. The 50/50 joint venture is part of a strategic partnership between the two companies. The plant will be located in the Shuangqiao district within the Chongqing municipality in central China. Bekaert is a leader in advanced metal transformation and in advanced materials and coatings. In 2007 the company had combined sales of €3.4 billion and employed 20,400 people around the world. Consolidated sales rose 15.3% in the first quarter of 2008 with combined sales also increasing significantly to €903 million, an increase of 11.4% compared with the same period in 2007. Bekaert advanced wire products in LatinAmerica and Asia performed excellently, thanks in part to the successful start-up of galvanized wire production in Karawang, Indonesia. Strong local demand for various Bekaert products on the Chinese market and the company’s increasing market share combined to produce remarkable growth in steel cord China. The completion of major capital investment projects boosted annual production capacity of tire cord to 275, 000 metric tons. Umicore increasing investments in clean technology Brussels-based material technology group Umicore is increasing its investments in high-efficiency solar cells as part of its commitment to clean technology applications. Umicore, the world leader in the production of germanium wafers for use in solar cells, is investing €45 million in increasing production of germanium semi-conductor substrates at its Oklahoma plant as well as expanding its capacity for lithium-ion battery materials. The new production capacity will effectively double the group’s wafer

© Christophe Ketels / Compagnie Gagarine

with Bifeprunox, their new schizophrenia therapy co-developed in conjunction with Wyeth, not yet receiving FDA approval.

production to 900,000 from its two sites in Olen, Belgium and Oklahoma in the United States. First quarter revenues were up by 15% in 2008 with strong revenue growth from Advanced Materials as well as from Precious Metal Products and Catalysts. Fortis feeling the credit crunch Belgium’s largest financial services company Fortis became the first large European bank to lose its chief executive as a result of the credit crunch which started in the summer

of 2007. Jean-Paul Voltron’s resignation in July 2008 occured after he proposed cutting shareholder dividends as part of the Bank’s attempts to raise €8.3 billion to boost its capital reserves. Like many banks, Fortis needed extra capital to deal with the global credit crunch and also to fund its €24 billion acquisition of parts of Dutch bank Amro, which analysts say was over-priced. Fortis’s shares fell by 60% over the course of the year and the shareholder dividend cut was seen as the last straw by angry investors.

Best of Belgium

155


Belgium Leads the Way in Eco-Business Thomas Leysen, President Federation of Enterprises in Belgium

Thomas Leysen - President of the FEB

Population growth, the depletion of natural resources and climate change are issues affecting all countries in the world, both developed and developing. From an entrepreneurship point of view, it’s each company’s duty to look after these evolutions and continually launch new applications to meet them. Europe’s businesses have chosen to transform constraints into opportunities. At the heart of Europe, Belgium has also taken up the challenge of green technologies with a relish. Many Belgian companies have become world leaders in renewable energies, water

156

Best of Belgium

management and waste processing. With the backing of internationally renowned university and private research centres, Belgium has responded to the need for a greener global economy by investing heavily in six areas of the eco-business: renewable energy, energy efficiency, air, water, soil, recycling and waste. Developing clean-energy partnerships According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), global energy consumption is set to increase by 50% by 2030. The sun, wind and water are potential climate-neutral energy sources. That’s why Belgium boasts

many innovative companies operating in the field of renewable energy and Belgian industry encourages partnerships with developing countries. Belgium has particularly acknowledged expertise in solar and wind energy sectors. The world’s largest offshore wind farm is for example currently being built in the North Sea, off the Belgian coast. Around 40 Belgian companies are involved in this project. Towards improved energy efficiency Energy efficiency is a priority for all governments. Belgian industry boasts a


Traffic, industrial processes and building heating systems release smoke, carbon monoxide and dioxide, heavy metals and other noxious substances into the atmosphere. Fortunately, enormous technological progress has already been made and new innovations are emerging all the time. Belgium has for instance the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s leading producer of catalytic converters for private vehicles. This technology consists in increasing the reduction of the engines pollution.

number of flagship companies specialising in three sectors: energy-efficient construction (windows, solar control, PVC, insulation, natural ventilation, cooper conductors, floor solutions, architecture), energyefficient consumption (lighting, home automation, heating devices, heaters and fireplaces, transport) and energyefficient production (industrial installations and power generation plants). Breathing pure air Improving air quality is one of the challenges of sustainable environmental management.

Water management: a global issue The issue of drinking water is a key challenge for the 21st century. The substantial growth in the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s population is placing ever more pressure on the Earthâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s freshwater reserves; at the same time, the amount of waste water produced is increasing, bringing with it a mounting risk of pollution. The scarcity of water, especially in African and Middle Eastern countries, calls for dynamic management of this life-essential resource. Technologies designed in Belgium can help in the development of water treatment and purification projects that could improve the quality of life of local people and reduce the amount of waste water discharged into the seas. Soil remediation While it may be making our everyday lives easier, industrial development has sometimes also caused serious environmental problems. Some 250,000 polluted sites requiring urgent remediation have been catalogued in

the 32 member countries of the European Environment Agency (EEA). According to the EEA, this number could increase by 50% between now and 2015. European industry, including Belgian companies, has responded to this challenge with a raft of innovative ideas - with knock-on benefits for the rest of the world. Extracting economic value from waste Recent studies confirm that recycling also reduces greenhouse gas emissions since it uses less energy than manufacturing from raw materials. For this reason, Europe advocates sustainable management of resources and waste. The technologies developed by industry in this area range from transforming waste into raw materials to recovering it for use as fuel. In this highly competitive and diverse sector, there are a number of Belgian companies capable of exporting their know-how. Many Belgian firms boast acknowledged expertise covering every area of waste management from collection to soil remediation via composting, recycling and biomethanisation. As an innovative and outward-looking country, Belgium has invested in the research and the development of effective environmental solutions. Many companies have developed a significant know-how in the fields of green technologies and eco-efficiency. Today, this expertise is waiting to be exported. Thomas Leysen President of the FEB

Best of Belgium

157


Economy and Industry

Belgium, a Home Base for the Chemical Industry Belgium has been a home theandchemical industry Place of thebase Belgian for chemical life sciences industry in the world thanks to major innovations and the pioneering role of several 19th-century Belgians such as Ernest Solvay, Lieven Gevaert, LĂŠo Hendrik Baekeland and Albert Meurice.

07

Belgium: a small country, a major player in the worldwide chemical and life sciences industry In more recent decades, people such as Paul Janssen and Christian de Duve played a major role in the development of the pharmaceutical industry. The spectacular development of the port area of Antwerp since the 1960s has been of vital importance for the growth of the base chemical industry in Belgium. Thanks to considerable investments by Belgian and foreign companies in the petrochemical industry and other major chemical activities, Antwerp has developed into a leading global petrochemical center. The pharmaceutical industry, meanwhile, expanded rapidly during the past 20 years in Flanders as well as in Wallonia. A very diverse portfolio of chemistrybased industrial activities developed through the past two centuries in Belgium. The Belgian chemical sector today has one of the highest degrees of specialisation in the world.

2007 figures

CHINA

USA

JAPAN

Population (Belgium = 1) Degre of specialization in the chemical and life sciences industry

Ireland Belgium

China

Netherl. Germany

Japan

France

Italy

Spain

USA

UK

0.8

0.7

Specialization index

3.5

2.3

1.6

1.4

1.2

1.0

1.0

0.9

0,8

Population (Mio)

4.1

10.4

1,313.9

16.5

82.4

127.5

62.8

58.1

40.4

Sources: Cefic - OECD - Eurostat - IMF. Calculations: essenscia, the Belgian Federation for Chemistry and Life Sciences Industries. Note: the specialization index is the ratio of a country's chemical and life sciences industry turnover to its gross domestic product, divided by the same ratio for the whole of the considered countries. 2006 figures for China, USA and Japan.

158

Best of Belgium

298.4

60.6


The Chemical Industry and Life Sciences in a Nutshell 18 Facts & Figures

2008

Exports and imports of chemical and life sciences products: geographical breakdown 2007

Exports 25.5% Germany 11.9% France 7.2% The Netherlands 6.1% United Kingdom 7.1% Italy 3.6% Spain 11.1% Other EU 27.5% Outside EU

Imports 25.6% Germany 9.1% France 11.6% The Netherlands 6.0% United Kingdom 5.4% Italy 16.7% Ireland 5.9% Other EU 19.8% Outside EU 3.9

• The industry’s turnover exceeded 54 billion EUR in 2007, accounting for one-fifth of total turnover in Belgium’s manufacturing sector as a whole. • Direct employment in the chemical and life sciences industry totals about 94,000 jobs, or 16% of all employment in the entire manufacturing sector. In addition, the chemical and life sciences industry generates about 150,000 indirect jobs in other sectors of the Belgian economy. • The chemical and life sciences industry is highly export-oriented. Exports amounted to 99.2 billion EUR in 2007 (including transit). Exports of chemicals, pharmaceuticals, plastics and rubber generated a positive trade balance of more than 18 billion EUR in 2007, contributing to the growth of the Belgian economy. • Since 2005, the trade balance of the chemical and life sciences industry exceeds the total trade balance of Belgium as a whole. • Invesment amounted to 1.96 billion EUR in 2007, representing more than one quarter of total investment in the manufacturing sector. The basic chemical industry accounted for nearly half of all investment, two-thirds of which was in the Antwerp region. • Research and development expenditure in the chemical and life sciences industry totalled an estimated 2.32 billion EUR in 2007. This represented nearly half of all private-sector R&D spending in Belgium. Life sciences, which includes pharmaceuticals and biotechnology, accounted for about three quarters of the sector’s R&D. • The Belgian chemical industry accounts for more than 6% of the total European turnover in this sector, even though Belgium’s share of the total EU population is only 2.1%.

Sources: National Accounts Institute / National Bank of Belgium. Harmonized System Sections VI+VII (Chapters 28-40): Chemical and life sciences products including plastics and rubber articles. Calculations: essenscia, the Belgian Federation for Chemistry and Life Sciences Industries. Note: Including all transit activities and international distribution centres.

Best of Belgium

159


Economy and Industry

The Belgian Automotive Industry in a Nutshell Located right in the middle of the European automotive industry, gifted with a wide knowledge and a lot of know how and a flexible and productive workforce: welcome to the Belgian Automotive Industry!

Home to four major passenger car assembly plants (Ford, General Motors, Volvo and Audi), one truck assembly plant (Volvo Truck), two large bus and coach manufacturers (Van Hool and VDL Jonckheere) and many manufacturers of trailers and bodyworks, Belgium is a key player in the European automotive industry landscape. Moreover, there is an abundance of suppliers focused on leading-edge technologies. The diversity of manufacturers and assembly plants has over the years produced a rich network of automotive parts suppliers and service providers in Belgium.

160

Best of Belgium


Colleges and universities here have been graduating highly qualified and specialized young people for decades. The Belgian automotive workforce is renowned for its hands-on attitude, its customer and quality focus and overall automotive mind. Several research institutions, each with their own focus, perform far-reaching research for the automotive industry – from ride and control systems, via new materials and alternative energy sources, to electronics and ICT for vehicles.

Finally, Belgium is the ideal bridgehead for companies wanting to make inroads in Europe. First of all there is its location: right in the middle of the most prosperous and industrialized region in Europe, with direct access to all the surrounding markets. And then there is its infrastructure with one of the most modern and densest networks of roads, railroads and waterways in the world. Home to the largest transshipment port for new cars on the continent, Belgium also has three other seaports, a national airport and several regional airports.

“Belgium has a lot to offer: we are located right in the centre of the European automotive industry, we have a wide knowledge and a lot of know how, and we can call on a flexible and productive workforce.” Erik Vandervreken, Director, Agoria Automotive. Support innovation through the creation of clusters Innovation is a hot topic for the many companies that supply the automotive industry. “Agoria Automotive works closely together with Flanders’DRIVE, the innovation platform and partner in innovation for the vehicle industry,” Vandervreken continues. “Flanders’ DRIVE focuses mainly on three priorities: light weight materials, alternative powertrains and active safety. We want to create clusters around these in order to share the R&D efforts and to develop new modules and components. This will allow us to further strengthen the rich network of suppliers. Agoria Automotive encourages suppliers to make optimal use of their know-how and experience and thus become true partners with the automotive industry.”

Today approximately 300 companies create added value for the automotive industry. They are engaged in a large range of activities: from research and design to production, testing and certification. Many of the suppliers are small- and medium-sized enterprises that frequently work together. They form a strong network, whether clustered or not around the assembly plants. On top of that, renowned research centers and universities drive the knowledge-intensive Belgian economy. Together with the industry, they are on a continuous search for new technologies that can help shape the future.

An industry with influence The automobile industry is very important for Belgium. Every year over 700,000 cars and over 40,000 commercial vehicles, buses and coaches roll off the assembly lines. Belgium has one of the highest motor vehicle production per capita in the world. The export ratio for assembled vehicles exceeds 80%. Directly and indirectly nearly 10% of the Belgian workforce is employed by the automotive industry. The influence of the organizations that represent the latter’s interests should therefore not be underestimated.

Agoria Automotive is a division of the technology industry association Agoria, set up to represent the Belgian automotive industry. Agoria Automotive defends the interests of the manufacturers of cars, buses, trucks, trailers and supply industry. For more information and contact details: www.agoria.be/automotive.

Diamant Building, A. Reyerslaan 80 B-1030 Brussel Tel: +32 (0)2 706 78 00 Fax: +32 (0)2 706 78 01

Best of Belgium

161


Economy and Industry

Winning Cards for the Belgian Food Industry The food industry occupies an essential position in the “from land to worktop” chain.

The activities range from industrial to traditional businesses, from drinks to sweets, bread to meats, dairy to stock cubes, etc. The same characteristics can be found in this enormous diversity: processing raw produce into safe, tasty and user-friendly food for everyone. Over the years, the Belgian food industry has taken up a dynamic position in a competitive market, as indicated by the following figures: Annual turnover: €33.2 billion (2006) With 13.6%, the food industry takes second place of total Belgian industry. Added value: €6.0 billion (2006), or 12.6 % of Belgian industry. Making it third place. Employment: 89,994 employees (2006) This makes the food industry the second largest employer. The food industry is pre-eminently a SME branch of industry.

162

Best of Belgium


As indicated in the table below, the food industry contains many branches, listed according to turnover and employment (expressed in %). Branches Abattoirs and meat Dairy Cocoa, chocolate and confectionery Bread, pastries and biscuits Feeding of livestock Grain processing, pasta and starch Fruit and vegetable processing Water and soft drinks Breweries Vegetable and animal oils and fats Sugar industry Other Total Food-wise Belgians live in the land of plenty. Almost everything’s available at affordable prices. This wasn’t the case fifty years ago, when 40% of the family income was spent on food. Today the figure is just 15%. Food was much more expensive for our parents and grandparents, simply because there was so little of it. Our farmers just didn’t produce enough to feed their own population. The European agricultural policy didn’t exist yet and Belgium had to import sugar, grain and milk year after year to supplement its production shortages. Only the rich could afford luxury products. Despite the price increase of agricultural raw produce during the last months, tasty and healthy food remains fundamentally cheap and available to all. Thanks to our diet, Belgians live longer and healthier than their parents and grandparents. The current life expectancy of the average Belgian is 13 years longer than in 1950. In 1950, eight year-old boys from poor families were on average 4 cm smaller than their wealthier playmates. Since then, the success of the European agricultural policy has led to a major revolution. The average agricultural yield has increased by on average 2% annually during the past few decades. These days, growth in the food industry is no longer a matter of more, but of better. Better when it comes to ingredients, freshness, vitamins, antioxidants, etc. Because what the food industry wants

Turnover (2006) 16.8 % 11.1 % 10.1 % 8.8 % 8.5 % 8.3 % 7.1 % 5.8 % 5.5 % 5.5 % 3.5 % 9.0 %

Employment (2006) 16.2 % 8.1 % 8.3 % 29.2 % 3.5 % 3.5 % 8.7 % 4.5 % 6.5 % 1.2 % 1.8 % 8.5 %

100 %

100 %

is a healthy consumer who enjoys his food and drink but eats a balanced diet and therefore eats in moderation. Consumers abroad have also learned to appreciate Belgian food products, as the fast growth of export indicates. In 25 years time, turnover figures state that the export share of the Belgian food industry has risen from 20% to 50%. This requires new products, packaging, sales channels and consumption moments. There is constant innovation to tap this potential. The Belgian food sector has winning cards to face the future with confidence!

Packing Waste Success Story Packaging is no longer an environmental problem in Belgium today. Reusable bottles are being introduced on a large-scale, being ecologically and economically sound and over 90% of one-off packaging is now recycled, thanks to the initiative of FOST Plus and the entire population’s cooperation. This result makes Belgium Europe’s number one. But Belgium also scores pretty well when it comes to prevention. In 2003 in Belgium, 157kg domestic and industrial packaging waste was produced per inhabitant, which is the third lowest figure in Europe.

Food Safety Succes Story The Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain (FASFC) has brought a completely new dynamic to the Belgian agro food chain, ranging from mixed feed manufacturers, to agriculture and food industry to distribution and the catering industry. This is the result of a unique form of dialogue between the FASFC and the sectors. This dialogue has been transformed into complementary government and business efforts to protect consumer health. • The FASFC completely reformed food chain monitoring on the basis of a new concept, focusing on the chain’s approach and integrating the various inspection departments in one umbrella monitoring organisation; it thoroughly monitors contaminants, works on the development of tracing and optimum quality control throughout the agro food chain • The producers pursue a strong brand policy of total quality; they write guides for guaranteeing quality and food safety per sector, enter into agreements about quality control in consultative bodies per market and organise hygiene and quality control training for their staff. Thanks to this unique cooperation between government and private operators, the Belgian food safety monitoring system has become a reference in Europe in just a few years time.

FEVIA Fédération de l’industrie Alimentaire asbl 43 Avenue des Arts 1040 Brussels Tel: 02/550.17.40 Fax: 02/550.17.59 Email: info@fevia.be www.fevia.be

Best of Belgium

163


Textile, Wood and Furniture: Industry with a Future

Balta

In 2007 the Belgian textile, wood and furniture industry realised a turnover of 14 billion euro, of which 70% has been realised abroad.

The 2,680 companies of this industry jointly employ 57,000 people and invested over 400 million euro last year. With added value worth 3.2 billion euro and a positive trade balance of 2.7 billion euro, the sector offers a major contribution to Belgiumâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s prosperity.

Extremis

Innovation and diversification The current position of the Belgian textile, wood and furniture industry is partly due to a strategy of innovation and diversification. During the past 20 years our industry

164

Best of Belgium

has undergone an extremely important adaptation process. There is one major constant: the companies increasingly aim to distinguish themselves from the competition by developing and manufacturing other, different products. Today we note that there is major diversity of products in the textile, wood and furniture industry and this will undoubtedly increase further. Each company sought a niche â&#x20AC;&#x201C; although this is sometimes a volume product â&#x20AC;&#x201C; that is defendable in a global context.


Recticel Bedding Sioen

top when it comes to design garden furniture, where our companies excel because of their advanced design as well as their innovative choice of materials. Within the growing subsector of technical textiles, a number of companies are specialized in protective textiles. They manufacture materials with specific characteristics which protect people in their work: fire fighter clothes, bullet-proof vests, signalisation clothing for road workers, etc. Currently, artificial grass is one of the hightech products of the Belgian carpet industry. Three Belgian manufacturers are world players in this field. Many national and international football teams play their home matches on Belgian artificial grass.

Worldwide players In some of these niches, Belgian textile, wood and furniture companies are among the world leaders. For instance, Belgian laminate flooring manufacturers arenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t only pioneers, but also worldwide market players in their segment. Through a combination of technological innovation and design, Belgian manufacturers of mattresses and bed bases have managed to achieve a leading reputation in Europe. Belgium is also among the absolute world

Interior The home interior is an important market for the textile, wood and furniture industry. Over half the products are intended for the interior. Just think of the furniture industry (furniture, seating, mattresses, etc.) and the interior textiles industry (carpets, upholstery fabrics, textile wallcoverings, etc.). But our industry also produces many other interior products and building components, such as laminate flooring, parquet, doors, windows, frames, etc. Other important subsectors of the textile industry are clothing fabrics, spinning mills

and textile finishing. In the wood and furniture industry, there is also major production of board material â&#x20AC;&#x201C; especially chipboard and fibreboard, both rough and processed - and wooden packaging such as crates, pallets and tailor-made packaging. This mosaic of extremely diverse and specialized activities and products are what makes our Belgian textile, wood and furniture industry so high achieving. The textile, wood and furniture industry: 10 main subsectors - interior textiles - technical textiles - clothing textiles - spinning mills - textile finishing - furniture industry - wood based panels - building components - packaging - other wood products

More information: Fedustria Hof-ter-Vleestdreef 5 bus 1 B-1070 Brussels Tel: +32 2 528 58 11 info@fedustria.be www.fedustria.be

Best of Belgium

165


Stûv, The Essential Fire

Stûv 60 – The very first Stûv ! It was designed to hang up to a wall. Closed, it was a match for the very best wood stoves. It worked in slow-burning mode : fed in the evening, it could be rekindled the next morning even after a long night. It would open in a snap and provide the joys of an open fire. And even be used for a barbecue !

166

Best of Belgium

Photo Szczepaniak

Timeless, sober, and – beyond its visual aspect – it is deeply respectful of the users, their household environment, of the Environment itself, of those people who build them and install them.

A fireplace in its simplest expression, a self-effacing design meant to emphasize the architecture and the fire itself.


Photo Vandentempel

Photo J-L laloux

Barbecues – With the Stûv grill, the food is not placed over the embers but in front of the flames. The food is cooked by radiation and there is no danger of it being carbonised by drops of fat that blaze up as they fall into the fire.

Stûv 30 : 3 stove in 1! It can operate behind its glass door, as openfire and barbecue or as a slow-burning fire. Other similar models are available : a stove to be integrated in the construction or a wall-suspended model.

History In 1983, Concept & Forme is a two-man band : Gérard Pitance and Benoît Lafontaine who decide to become partners on the development and production of a very special wood stove (the current Stûv 60) designed by Gérard Pitance. They sub-contract the production of components and do the assembly and installation themselves. Their capital : creativity and motivation. Early days are laborious but the firm slowly develops, progressively tools-up, staff increases little by little, offers new types of stoves ; products are carefully finished and highly efficient. Today Concept & Forme offers 120 jobs, produces 14,000 units annually, delivers a highperformance infrastructure and exports to all European countries (> 70% for export). Stûv has always endeavoured to produce high-performance stoves. Today all models officially conform to European standards. They have been tested in laboratories which use the European standards EN 13229 (inserts) or EN 13240 (stoves). Company philosophy One can only reach such levels by developing competences in all areas : technical,

administrative, financial, human resource, management, marketing... but there are two areas that characterize this company : the design of its products and a permanent attention to human problems. The design of Stûv stoves has nothing much in common with the current and somewhat flashy “trendy” designs one sees in magazines ; it is timeless, sober, and – beyond its visual aspect – it is deeply respectful of the users, their household environment, of the Environment itself, of those people who build them and install them. Distinctions • Entreprise de l’Année 2006 (Company of the year 2006 in Wallonia) • Great Prize “Wallonia Export 2006”, “young exporters” category • Design Prize, Batimat 2003 • Concours Lépine, the President’s Prize, Paris show 2001

Concept & Forme sa rue Jules Borbouse 4 5170 Bois-de-Villers Belgium E-mail: info @ stuv.be www.stuv.be

Best of Belgium

167


Economy and Industry

Brussels: A Rich, Vibrant and International City

© Christophe Ketels / Compagnie Gagarine

Brussels is one of the world’s great cosmopolitan centres and is the ultimate European city.

The home of the European Union, NATO and other international organisations, Europe’s de facto capital has a reputation for bureaucracy and political decisionmaking but there is far more to Brussels than this. It is a city of banking and business, stylish architecture, vibrant culture and exceptional beer and chocolate. Brussels is also dynamic and successful. In a recent study by BAK Basel Economics comparing the Brussels Metropolitan Region (BMR) to 14 other major European metropolitan centres (such as Paris, London,

168

Best of Belgium

Luxembourg, Madrid and Dublin), Brussels emerged with the highest level of productivity and one of the highest GDPs. The backbone of this successful economy is its services sector, which accounts for around 88% of jobs in the region. Services include banking, research, information technologies, tourism, transport and health. The star performer in this area is the financial sector, where Brussels has an established banking tradition, a respected stock exchange and a variety of insurance, leasing and investment fund firms including major financial

services groups Fortis and KBC. Brussels is regarded as the fourth-most attractive city in Europe for starting a business. Brusselsbased journalist Leo Cendrowicz explains that the city “has many hidden advantages, such as a strategic geographical location in Europe, some of the most productive workers in the world, excellent transport connections with other cities and a plentiful supply of relatively cheap office space”. A key growing sector in Brussels’ economy is information and computer technology, with around 4,500 ICT companies employing


© Christophe Ketels / Compagnie Gagarine

© Christophe Ketels / Compagnie Gagarine

© Christophe Ketels / Compagnie Gagarine

75,000 people. Health is another vehicle for growth and employment, while excellent university research has contributed to the city’s leading role in developing life sciences, including biotechnology and pharmaceuticals. With the decline of traditional industrial activities in the region, it is the international character of Brussels which has assumed vital economic importance. The city is the second-largest diplomatic city in the world and is host to 159 embassies and some 2,500 diplomats as well a vast contingent of EU officials, civil servants, interpreters,

lobbyists, consultancies, advertising agencies and journalists. Many Belgian companies have their headquarters in Brussels even if business activities are centred elsewhere. The capital is home to 54,000 businesses, of which 2,000 are foreign, and the city attracts over 1,000 business conferences annually. From a quality-of-life point of view, the city boasts numerous attractions for young and old alike, a vibrant cultural life and a wealth of quality restaurants. Tourist landmarks include: the Grand Place, the majestic town square which is home to terrace cafes and functions as the venue for numerous concerts; the Atomium, a giant model of nine linked spheres which represents an iron molecule’s atoms and which serves as a symbol of the city; the impressive EU headquarters; the Royal Palace; the neoclassical Palace of Justice, and the town’s gothic town hall. Museums and galleries honour artistic talents Peter Brueghel, Tintin creator Hergé, surrealist painter Magritte and Art Nouveau’s Victor Horta. The city also has its own style district around the rue Dansaert with numerous boutiques, trendy restaurants and art galleries. There are countless restaurants offering fine food, from the national dish of “moules et frites” (mussels and chips) to ethnic dishes from Turkey, China, Morocco, Vietnam, Tunisia, Italy and elsewhere. Belgium’s most famous food export, chocolate, is well

catered for with houses like Godiva, Pierre Marcolini, Wittamer, Leonidas and Neuhaus represented. Brussels also has numerous taverns to sample the country’s 450 worldrenowned beers, which include delicious local specialities such as Trappist beer and the yeast-free ‘lambic beer’. All of these attractions contribute towards Brussels’ success, as does its international character as a cultural meeting-place. This multi-culturalism is not without its challenges, however. In some respects Brussels reflects the broader historical, political and linguistic divisions of Belgium itself, and greater cooperation with the Flemish and Walloonian authorities would increase the city’s standing as a world-class cosmopolitan city. Economically, while the Brussels region is a rich and successful one, levels of unemployment are high (above 20%), especially amongst the growing sector of less-educated immigrants from Turkey, Greece and North Africa. Companies and international experts recommend better education and retraining of the unemployed, both in technical and language skills, to improve the situation. Given its long history dating back to the 13th century of making the most of changing circumstances, Brussels will continue to meet these new opportunities and remain one of Europe’s most dynamic and desirable cities.

Best of Belgium

169


Economy and Industry

Brussels Emmanuel Van Innis, Chairman Brussels Enterprises Commerce and Industry (BECI)

170

Best of Belgium


Brussels: a metropolis on a human scale. Brussels has become the beating heart of Europe, where expats, tourists, business people, civil servants, commuters and residents from all corners of the world meet each other and live together. Brussels is since a number of years again fully in motion. The city attracts people and businesses; it is the largest student city of the country, a dynamic and provocative global meeting place: it is the place where it happens. Besides, Brussels has much to offer. It lies at the crossroads of Belgium and Europe, with a multicultural composition which doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t bear comparison: approximately half of the population has no Belgian roots. No other city in Europe houses so many different European immigrants. That interaction and cooperation between people with a different background, who work for the many multinationals, the European decision making, the local commerce or an international organisation, provide an added value and a wealth which has moved Brussels into the top three of Europeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s wealthiest regions. Brussels alone is responsible for 20% of the Belgian GNP, employs 700,000 people, of whom more than half are from Flanders and Walloon. It has furthermore succeeded to retain its human face and a quality of life that belongs to the top regions in Europe. The European parliament, the European Commission, the Council of Ministers of the EU, NATO, the Benelux and some 1400 international organisations make it the capital of Europe. 3,800 diplomats, 13,000 lobbyists, 1,000 international journalists, 4.5 million tourists per year make it the gateway of Belgium to the world and bring the world to Belgium. There are only a few other places in the world where so many international meetings are held. When the Magritte museum and the Congressenpaleis (Convention Centre) are opened next year, the international influx will only increase. But this city is more than a centre for international headquarters or political power: with a highly educated work force, the highest productivity in Europe and excellent accessibility, it also succeeded in developing a new economy and in becoming an important business and financial centre. The region of Brussels is the signboard and the economical motor of the country and its proximity to large economic centres (London, Paris, Amsterdam and Cologne are situated within 250km and the HST train brings all these very close together, within less than 2.5h of travelling time) makes it interesting for both multinationals and tourists. The ICT sector and business services have known

such dynamics in few other cities in Europe as in the Belgian capital. Brussels is a cluster of people, talent and activity and is a source of creativity and innovation. The challenges which belong to such an internationally tinted economy are substantial. Brussels will, in order to be able continuing to practice and strengthen its role as international centre and capital of Europe, have to invest in infrastructure, mobility, urbanism and city marketing. Another challenge which Brussels, just like many other cities will have to face, is the green economy: the city wants to take the lead to tackle the mobility problems, improve the energy performance of its businesses and housing stock and bring into practise the CO2 guide lines of Kyoto and Europe. Brussels could be a perfect test environment for a green economy and measurements, which regulate the quality of life for the city and strengthen the natural environment and can stabilize its attraction to businesses, knowledge and talent. The different union organisations of Belgium; the Flemish VOKA (Flemish Economic Association), the Walloon UWE (Union of Wallonian Enterprises), the Brussels BECI (Brussels Enterprises Commerce and Industry) and the federal VBO (Federation of Enterprises in Belgium) have joined hands to think together about the economic future of the region of Brussels and its hinterland. They work on a route plan for the whole metropolis, including the periphery that outlines which sectors should be expanded and/or supported. In that cooperation between the different communities hides not only the reason of existence, but also the strength of Brussels. Emmanuel Van Innis Chairman Brussels Enterprises Commerce and Industry (BECI)

Best of Belgium

171


Antwerp - Expanding Logistics Hub Antwerp is strengthening its position as one of the world’s key logistics hubs through expanding its port, road and rail networks.

Major infrastructure projects already underway or in the pipeline include a bridge and tunnel road link which will complete the circle of the Antwerp ring, further deepening of the river Scheldt, an expansion of the harbour, and a railway link between Antwerp and Brussels airport. Strategically located in the heart of Europe, Antwerp has long had a strong tradition in logistics thanks to its inland location which gives it excellent rail, water and road connections to Europe’s leading economies: the Netherlands, France, Germany, Luxembourg and also the United Kingdom.

172

Best of Belgium

In 2007 Antwerp, which is Europe’s second largest port, handled 183 million tonnes of freight from almost 17,000 cargo-carrying ships, increasing its annual handling volume by 9.3%. The main driver of this growth is general cargo with a sharp rise in container cargo in 2007 to nearly 95 million tonnes. This growth is set to continue with further deepening of the Westerschelde scheduled to be complete by 2009. Deepening work, which is necessary to guarantee navigability and keep up with developments in ship construction, got underway in December 2007. Big container ships (up until 12,000

TEU) will soon be able to navigate unhindered right to the Deurganck dock. Work on widening the navigation channel by up to 370 metres between the Europaterminal and up to 500 metres upstream of the Deurganck dock is set to commence following the implementation of environmental protection measures from October 2008. There is strong political commitment to this project from the Flemish government, with Flemish Minister-President Kris Peeters stressing that “widening the navigation channel in the Westerschelde is of great


the structure, which will have a spacesaving double-deck construction. The aim of the Oosterweel link is to take heavy goods vehicles through a tunnel under the Scheldt and across the city on a viaduct to join the Ring close to the Sportpaleis. The project has faced strong opposition, however, from Antwerp residents and political groups such as Groen! who are concerned about the environmental impact, the route of the Link and the choice of a tunnel-viaduct combination. The authority responsible for the development, the Mobile Antwerp Management Company (BAM) has also had to revise its cost projections, pushing up the price to €2.54 billion from the €1.85 billion ceiling set in 2007. The completion date for the project will also be shifted, with optimistic calculations suggesting that work can begin in autumn 2009.

importance for the economic development in Flanders and the Netherlands”. Peeters added that the “expected profits from transport as a result of this third deepening of the Westerschelde up to 2030 are estimated at between €0.7 and €1.1 billion for Flanders alone”. The cost of the dredging work is €100 million. Improving road mobility The fast expansion of Antwerp’s port is also leading to faster than expected growth in road haulage. Antwerp’s already congested road network is becoming even busier as

more and multinationals choose Belgium as their European distribution centre on the grounds of its exceptional location, road network and logistics know-how. To ease this congestion and allow for smooth expansion, Antwerp is planning a bridge and tunnel link (known as the Oosterweel link) to complete the circle of the Antwerp ring. Dubbed the Lange Wapper after a figure in Antwerp’s folklore, the 2.4 km state-of-the-art cable-stayed bridge will be an impressive feat of engineering and serve as an eye-catching icon to the city. Five 110-metre pillars will support

Rail link In terms of rail infrastructure, Belgium has one of the most comprehensive rail networks in the world and transported a total of 188 million passengers and 62 million tonnes of freight in 2006. Regional improvements are set to benefit Antwerp as well with the Diabolo project currently underway resulting in Brussels airport becoming a major junction in the Belgian and international railway network. By providing a new direct rail link between Brussels airport and major railway stations such as Mechelen and Antwerp, the project will significantly reduce travel times on existing services. Antwerp also provides excellent access to Belgium’s extensive network of inland waterways (1,532 km) which provides fast, environmentally-friendly and cost-efficient transport to the heart of Europe. Whatever the outcome of the wrangling over Antwerp’s road infrastructure development, the city’s expansion as a multimodal logistics hub is strengthening its global competitiveness.

Best of Belgium

173


Economy and Industry

Having a Vision Offers a Great Head Start

© Christophe Ketels / Compagnie Gagarine

Robert Voorhamme, Councilor for Education, Work & Economy - City of Antwerp

© Christophe Ketels / Compagnie Gagarine

Situated between Amsterdam, Lille and the Ruhr, Antwerp is a modestly populated region with 466,000 inhabitants. It is the economical centre of the Flanders region. This is mainly due to Antwerp’s unique location and its harbour. The Antwerp harbour processes more than 180 million tons on a yearly basis, and is the fourth busiest harbour in the world. An important part of the harbour’s business comes from the chemical and petrochemical shipments it handles. Most large companies in this industry will not settle for anything less than the best facilities in the world, and Antwerp is proud to be able to offer this. While industry represents twenty percent of Antwerp’s enterprises, the service sector is by far the most important part of the

174

Best of Belgium


economy, representing seventy-five percent of all activities. The government plays a key role in this matter, working proactively in order to boost the economy, making sure all policies are environmentally friendly, and ensuring that the companies involved are included in any relevant debates. Antwerp is the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s diamond and fashion centre, and the city has become famous for these two creative and high profile industries. Antwerp also offers a wide variety of theatres, museums, cafes and restaurants and has become renowned as the shopping city of Belgium, with the Antwerp Meir being the most popular shopping centre in the country. Antwerp is also a university city. It is home to a management school as well as a number of international schools.

The city has invested a lot of money and effort into improving its infrastructure and accessibility to visitors. Antwerp has its own TGV station and a planned direct connection with the airport of Zaventem will soon make the city even more reachable to international travellers. Antwerp has effective policies in place to attract future orientated investors. The city council has founded an agency whose goal is to attract new industry, retailers and companies to set up their regional headquarters in this city. On a yearly basis more than 350 international companies look for a new office location in Europe, so there is a lot of potential for growth in this sector. When it comes to attracting new investments, the government has to

provide consistent policies, and the policies as well as the people who implement them must have a vision for the future, and uphold the highest standards. Antwerp is a world leader in the protection of the environment. The cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s environmental regulations are among the most stringent in the world, but these regulations are respected and upheld. We believe that companies who have to comply with stricter regulations in this regard will end up being twice as competitive in the international market. Robert Voorhamme Councilor of Education, Work, Economy and Middle Class Stad Antwerpen City of Antwerp

Best of Belgium

175


Sustainable Logistics Alex Van Breedam, Director - Flanders Institute for Logistics

Logistics has secured a place as a strategic sector for Benelux. The added value of logistics is over 8% of the gross domestic product, and it employs over 8% of the working population. These figures alone show that logistics is more than just transport and warehouses. Furthermore, logistics today can only flourish

176

Best of Belgium

sustainably if the connection with industrial activities is strong enough. This means that the boundary between logistics and production is becoming less defined. This can be seen in the changing design of larger warehouses. For example the pure storage space is increasingly making way for added value activities with an increasingly industrial

character, such as assembly, adding options or kitting. These types of activities are labour intensive, providing work for more than 30,000 people in more than 790 European distribution centres (EDCs) supplying at least five European countries. Aside from the obvious benefits of logistics for the economy, the social and ecological


costs cannot be denied. Scarcity of land, increasing traffic congestion in the region and increased emissions of harmful gasses are a few examples of this. This means that a new challenge presents itself: sustainable logistics. Sustainability is generally defined as meeting present needs without mortgaging the needs of future generations.

Until now, companies had the goal of optimising their supply chains to be more efficient and more effective, without very much consideration of sustainability. Maximum efficiency in this is usually expressed in a minimal total logistical cost, or total supply chain cost. Effectiveness generally refers to the service level that is offered to the client, often expressed in terms of delivery frequency, delivery quantities, delivery times, etc. Performant supply chain management makes it possible to improve efficiency and effectiveness together, to a certain level. Beyond that level the company has to choose for efficiency or effectiveness, depending on its strategy. More and more companies are starting to demand sustainable logistics. This means that the existing trade-off between effectiveness and efficiency must now be expanded to include sustainability as well. The result is that the space to optimize the three criteria at once becomes very tight. It is hard to imagine that a company can minimise its supply chain costs by making all its transport comodal, and simultaneously making more frequent deliveries in smaller quantities. Yet the opportunities are there: collaboration, consolidation, in other words bundling streams is the key word. Companies that are prepared to bundle their streams horizontally will succeed in improving all three of their supply chain demands at once. To be able to offer the logistics sector as many opportunities as possible to develop towards sustainability without significantly increasing social impacts, the Flemish Logistics Institute has developed the “Extended Gateway® Flanders” concept. First of all, the Extended Gateway® Flanders concept responds to a trend that has already been apparent for some time. Sea and air ports are taking initiatives in the area they serve to increase their competitiveness. Hence the term Extended Gateway® Flanders. The goal is also to place the (industrial) logistical activities in the correct location, which is the place where the minimal total logistical cost generates the least social impact. Originally conceived as being more a question of business economics, themes such as the environment, quality of life, mobility, regional planning and work activity are increasingly being linked to logistical development. By clustering logistical activity in carefully chosen regions, the flow of goods can be bundled and multimodality can be expanded sustainably. With the Extended Gateway® Flanders Flanders concept, gateways and hinterland find each other. The concept also offers enormous development opportunities both for the gateways as well as for the Flemish and, with expansion, European hinterland. In this way, hinterland locations are

expanded in terms of job opportunities and consolidated delivery of goods flows, while the gateway increases its attractiveness for these flows of goods by establishing them more deeply. Moreover, the gateway is able to reserve maximum space for those industrial and logistic activities that are more port related, such as basic chemical activities or processing large volumes. The ultimate goal of the Extended Gateway® Flanders is to lead the right investment in the right location through a structured, integrated approach. The concept that was originally concerned with business economics and logistics is gradually becoming a broad social project that concerns regional planning, mobility, a healthy labour market, environmental aspects and the optimal expansion and use of the infrastructure. Not all activities need to be concentrated in the gateways. According to the total logistical cost ratio, this is actually not recommended. If the hinterland is selected, then clustering is recommended: logistical and industrial activities are bundled to be able to achieve optimal economies of scale. The focus is primarily on (a limited number of) favourable hotspots, regions that are particularly well suited to logistics. The cluster effects can then be further developed concretely to the level of business operations. In short, companies must be encouraged to bundle streams. At present the Extended Gateway® Flanders is being given a concrete form and is being increasingly used as a leading instrument for the further development of sustainable logistics in Flanders. In this way Flanders will be able to further develop itself into a logistical port for Europe with maximum benefits and minimal costs. In this process, sustainability is not a cost, but an opportunity to get all parties onto the same wavelength and focus on one concept. The government creates the framework - the Extended Gateway® Flanders - in which the logistical players have every opportunity to reach high goals in the areas of cost efficiency, customer service and sustainability. In this way Flanders can maintain and expand its position as a top logistical region.

Vlaams Instituut voor de Logistiek (VIL) Flanders Institute for Logistics Jordaenskaai 25 B-2000 Antwerpen (Belgium) Tel: +32 (0) 3 229 05 00 Fax: +32 (0) 3 229 05 10 E-mail: info@vil.be www.vil.be

Best of Belgium

177


Economy and Industry

Gosselin takes International Moving and Logistics to another Level Whether you’re relocating from rural China to the outback of Chile or just across the city, the Gosselin Group ensures a completely thorough and professional moving experience.

Gosselin, an Antwerp-based moving and logistics group of companies with more than 75 years of professional expertise, has taken the business of moving and logistics to another level. Started in 1930 as a local Belgian moving company, the firm has evolved over the years into an impressive international moving empire with 48 branches in 32 countries.

178

Best of Belgium

The company’s core activities cover every aspect of the removal business: moving, linehaul, warehousing, packing and unpacking of containers, customs clearance, and road, sea and air transportation. These activities are divided according to the three divisions: Gosselin Moving, Gosselin Logistics, and Gosselin Support Services. The two driving forces behind Gosselin’s

international success have been former company chairman Dolf Gosselin and the current CEO, Marc Smet. Dolf Gosselin was a “real Antwerpenaar”, a “mover and shaker” who expanded Vivet-Gosselin from a local moving company into Gosselin World Wide Moving, a major player in the international moving scene. They oversaw its steady expansion within Western, Central


and Eastern Europe, the Caucasus as well as mainland Asia, and actively sought the acquisition of smaller regional firms. Gosselin is also perfectly placed to serve the diplomats who are posted to Belgium, the EU and NATO as well as the executives of national and international companies. These VIP contracts have resulted in the company acquiring a wealth of international experience which is constantly being added to and refined. The international character of the organisation means that the different country offices learn from each other through exchanging professional expertise and local knowledge. Over the years Gosselin has evolved beyond recognition, adding invaluable sidelines to its overall package of services. More than just a moving and logistics company, Gosselin positions itself as a partner in moving and logistics. Gosselin is able to take care of all elements of moving to the most challenging destinations from outer Mongolia to central Africa and rural Chile. They are extremely thorough and careful in their approach and each move requires a meticulous master moving plan. Multi-modal logistics Gosselin’s multi-modal logistics encompasses road, air and water transportation. In addition to its hundreds of road vehicles, the Group has its own air cargo company at BruCargo (Brussels airport cargo park) while on the

water front their inland container terminal at the Albert Canal in Antwerp handles 70,000 TEU’s (twenty foot equivalent units) a year. This shift from road to water transportation won Gosselin an industry award for contributing to the growth of inland water freight, as well as the praise of the EU Commission, for its contribution to the environment. The company has its own in-house customs clearance office which speeds up the administrative side of the process. Another critical factor in moving and logistics is warehousing. Gosselin operates an impressive 60.000 square metres of warehouse space (and takes ownership of another 13,000m2 in September 2008). From a quality control point of view, the company proudly boasts the distinction of being the first Belgian moving business to achieve the international moving industry’s most prestigious accreditation, FAIM / ISO. As part of this quality assurance, Gosselin operates an internet tracking system that provides 24 hour visibility within a secure environment. Personal touch Offering a comprehensive service to customers is integral to staff training. The corporate philosophy at Gosselin is based on

expertise, commitment to excellent service and team spirit. As big as Gosselin has become, the Gosselin Group management team is committed to retaining the personal touch. Moving is not a mass expedition, it is an emotional experience and respect for the treasured possessions of families who are relocating is the key to Gosselin’s business. The logistics of people’s emotions here are as important as the moving of their family furniture. One of the most important ingredients of Gosselin’s ongoing success is the trust they have built up with their customers. Given the sensitive nature of the goods, it is this trust within the world of multinationals and diplomats which gives them their competitive edge.

Gosselin Group YOUR PREFERRED PARTNER IN MOVING & LOGISTCIS Belcrownlaan 23 2100 Antwerp - Belgium Tel: +32 / 3 360 55 00 Fax : +32 / 3 360 55 79 moving@gosselingroup.eu www.gosselingroup.eu

Best of Belgium

179


The Westerlund Group Westerlund’s worldwide paper chain offers a complete solution

The Westerlund Group is a world leader in the handling and logistics of paper, pulp and other forest products and provides a complete distribution service for producers and consumers through its port terminals in Antwerp, Rouen and Changshu. When Captain John Westerlund, a ship owner from Gothenburg in Sweden, settled in Antwerp in 1903, he set up a business

180

Best of Belgium

supplying ship’s provisions. Over 100 years later, the Westerlund Group has a strong tradition in forwarding and warehousing paper, pulp and forest products and is continuing its global expansion through strategic acquisitions and buyouts. In 2008 the Westerlund Group handled over nine million tons through its regional operations in Belgium, France, the United

Kingdom and China, and the group also owns and operates the world’s largest terminal specialising in forest products. Westerlund’s steady expansion and then specialisation in forest products received a massive boost in 1968 when the founder’s sons built one of the first large modern terminals in Antwerp to specialise in pulp, paper and forest products. 1987 marked the


Port Autonome de Rouen © P. Boulen

dust-free) bulk kaolin receiving terminal on Antwerp’s right bank. A key aspect of Westerlund’s success has been the growth of its regional operations. In Europe, Westerlund France started operating a marine terminal at Rouen in 1993 and also runs a container freight station at Marseilles/ Fos. Westerlund UK started running its business from Tilbury in 1995. In France, Westerlund recently strengthened its position as a market leader through the acquisition of Cimep-Mondia Forest Products. This buyout increased its French activities by 50% and enlarged its storage capacity in Rouen to 85,000m2. In Asia, Westerlund commenced business in 1996 with the building of terminals in the new Chinese port of Changshu, west of Shanghai on the Yangtze River. Westerlund Changshu nearly doubled its handling volumes from one million tonnes in 2004 to almost two million tonnes in 2007. A newly opened office in Shanghai coordinates the group’s Asian logistics.

start of a period of significant growth as the company opened the very first terminal on the left bank of the river Scheldt. Doubling its capacity four years later, Westerlund’s Antwerp terminal became the largest in the world specialising in the handling of paper and pulp. It covers an area of 880,000m2 with 260,000m2 of covered storage. In addition the group operates Europe’s largest (and

Full logistical services Westerlund’s activities have developed rapidly over the past few years beyond traditional stevedoring to include full logistical services, including complete distribution to final clients as well as the exporting of paper from Europe. The group combines its expertise in pulp and paper handling with strategic partners in order to offer a seamless logistics network. Forwarding by road, rail, barge or sea, or any combination thereof, is carried out by a single service provider for reliable and competitive export solutions. A worldwide network of company-owned and managed terminals ensures high quality warehousing for safe storage and efficient handling. As part of its comprehensive service to both producers and consumers, the group also provides a full online tracking system to monitor shipments at all stages of the paper chain. A major accomplishment with regards to quality control was Westerlund’s achievement in 2002 of simultaneous ISO 9001 and ISO

14001 certification, becoming the first Belgian terminal operator to obtain this distinction. Ongoing investment in systems, procedures and training at its various terminals ensures that Westerlund provides the highest quality service while having the least impact on the environment and the community. BBI buyout consolidates Westerlund’s global position 2008 has seen a major development for the group with the decision by Babcock & Brown Infrastructure (BBI), Europe’s largest bulk and break bulk operations group specialist, to acquire the Westerlund Group. Through its majority-owned subsidiary Benelux Port Holdings, BBI acquired a majority shareholding in the Westerlund Group as part of its long-term business strategy of acquiring and developing high quality port companies. BBI employs 2,900 people worldwide in its port holdings and operations and handles approximately 150 million tons of various commodities annually. In 2007 BBI achieved group revenue of €0.8 billion. Jean-Jacques Westerlund, who remains CEO of the Westerlund Group, assured all stakeholders that the quality and commitment of Westerlund would remain unchanged. “Babcock & Brown has a record of operating to the same high quality standards as Westerlund is known for, and you may be assured that Westerlund will continue providing the dedicated service and attention to your interests in all the ports we operate,” he said. “We firmly believe that the new shareholding structure will allow our company to successfully pursue growth in our major markets and to serve our clients even better in future.”

Philip De Mulder Group Commercial Manager Westerlund Group Email: Pdemulder@westerlundgroup.com www.westerlundgroup.com

Best of Belgium

181


Boeckmans Shipping and Forwarding Boeckmans powering ahead at a rate of knots

182

Best of Belgium

SHIPPING & FORWARDING

BOECKMANS BELGIE


In the world of maritime trade, the port of Antwerp has been recognised for centuries for its commercial strength. Barring the odd catastrophe (for example when the Dutch blockaded the river Scheldt in the 17th century), shipping lines are all but guaranteed to enter and leave the port fully laden. Antwerp-based shipping agent Boeckmans maintains this tradition of commercial success. Even in today’s massively consolidated shipping industry, Boeckmans remains independent and continues to thrive. The company won the prestigious Trends Gazelle Award for rapid growth during the period 2004-2005, an expansion driven largely by its increasingly strong reputation in the transport of conventional cargo, and bolstered by investment in its own shipping line. At the heart of Antwerp. At the heart of Europe Boeckmans was founded in the 1930s. Originally an expedition agent , the company emerged after the Second World War as a shipping agent. Majority shareholding is owned by the Durot family, who have steered the firm through the troughs and swells of the shipping industry since the 1970s. They are keen to maintain the firm’s status as an independent agent and to further develop their expertise and know-how in shipping and logistics. The company’s headquarters overlook the river Scheldt in Antwerp, perfectly placed for their shipping and forwarding role. Europe’s second largest port after Rotterdam, Antwerp has a strong tradition in logistics thanks to its inland location which gives it excellent multi-modal connections to the heart of Europe’s economies. The city also has a well-established commercial reputation, one that is strong in all areas — be it vehicles, break-bulk, containers, dry bulk, cooled transport, chemicals or fresh fruit. In 2007, the port handled 182 million tonnes of freight with container cargo making up the lion’s share.

A three-pronged attack Boeckmans is recognised for its focus on conventional cargo (non-containerised cargo such as steel, pipes, paper and forestry products, palletized and other unitary cargo). This specialisation developed as a result of the consolidation of container lines in the 1980s and 1990s, a period which saw the creation of huge multinational companies (such as Maersk) that then expanded their activities into the shipping agent role. Independent shipping agents were faced with a stark choice — be swallowed up by the big container lines or find their niche. Boeckmans followed a two-pronged strategy, specialising in conventional cargo and in specific regions (the Mediterranean, Middle East, South America and South-East Asia). A third, equally important priority has been the provision of a fully integrated service to its clients — both shipping lines and forwarders (and their customers). While Boeckmans’ prime service to shipping lines is commercial in nature (centred on finding cargo), it also offers an integrated suite of administrative and operational services. These include customs clearance, cargo handling, warehousing, distribution and control, trans-shipment, ship re-supply and more. Integrated computer systems enable efficient distribution and tracking of cargo through communication with local port custom authorities, ship owners and clients. Furthermore, market research technology and computer-aided traffic analysis systems allow for geographical area analyses, plus account profiles and statistics on imported and exported cargoes, by principal and by customer. As part of its integrated service, Boeckmans prides itself on offering an all-round, one-stop service that covers all ports in the Benelux. Investing in shipping and its people In addition to its agency role, Boeckmans is also thriving as a shipping line. Its short sea

service, Scaldic Med Line, owns three vessels and has two more on long leases. These currently operate the Mediterranean and North African routes. In line with Boeckmans’ chosen specialisation, Scaldic Med Line concentrates on conventional cargo. Since 2001, the company has seen strong growth on the back of these shipping line investments, culminating in that coveted Trends Gazelle Award. As an organisation with several decades of experience in shipping and logistics, Boeckmans has successfully managed to exploit the challenges and opportunities of a changing industry. Its expertise in maritime transport continues to develop and deliver results, both for its customers and for the company itself. One of the many ways it does so is in the employment market. Boeckmans is a sought-after employer because of the ideal learning environment it provides for all those committed to the maritime transport business.

Boeckmans Belgie n.v. Van Meterenkaai 1, B-2000 Antwerpen Belgium Tel: 32 (0)3 202 02 02 Fax: 32 (0)3 202 03 93 E-mail: info@boeckmans.be www.boeckmans.be

Best of Belgium

183


Belgiumâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Export Performance stays Strong Thanks to its strong industrial base and excellent transport infrastructure networks, Belgium is able to export three-fifths of its annual industrial output. Exports in most sectors have shown good growth in the past two years. Roughly 80% of Belgian trade is with neighbouring EU member states and the main export markets are France, Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Italy.

184

Best of Belgium


The most important sectors for Belgian exports are iron and steel, chemicals, textiles, machinery, motor vehicles, diamonds and precious metals, and prepared foodstuffs, notably chocolate and beer. Belgium’s total exports amounted to €236 billion in 2007, which represents an increase of 2.8% from 2006. Approximately€188 billion of this was intra-EU trade. In the 1st Quarter of 2008, exports amounted to €64.2 billion, an increase in volume of 3.3% from the equivalent three-month period in 2007. Belgium’s leading export market, France, made up 23% (€11.85 billion) of this total while Germany’s share was 21% (€11.21 billion). Belgium’s top five trading partners in the EU together account for 78% of Belgium’s intra-EU exports. Within the EU, Poland and Finland are emerging as growing markets for Belgian goods with exports to these two countries increasing by 33% and 29% in value respectively in April 2008 compared to the equivalent time period in 2007. Poland bought €419 million worth of Belgian exports in March 2008. Extra-EU exports grew marginally faster than intra-EU exports from 2004 to 2007, posting a cumulative growth rate of 27.2% in comparison with 24.7% for intra-EU exports. Outside of the EU, the largest market for Belgian exports is the United States with exports to this market totalling €10.18 billion in 2007. Exports to India amounted to €5.19 billion in 2007 while those to China increased to €2.8 billion for the same period.

Main export sectors One of the best-performing export sectors in 2007 was iron and steel, which grew its exports by a massive 65% to €6.61 billion in the 4th Quarter of 2007 in comparison with the equivalent time period the year before. Belgium’s top export performer over the past two years has been the chemical sector with foreign sales of over €8.73 billion in the 4th Quarter of 2007, marginally down on the 2006 4th Quarter figure of €8.79 billion. Machinery and vehicle sales were the second and third largest export sectors for the period, with figures of €7.96 billion and €7.56 billion respectively. With mineral exports (notably iron and steel) taking the fourth place, exports of non-ferrous metals amounted to €6.59 billion for the same three-month period, making this the fifth largest export sector. Plastics exports grew by 6.8% to €5.58 billion in the 4th Quarter of 2007 while exports of diamonds and precious metals increased marginally to €3.58 billion. Largely as a result of the steep fuel price hikes in 2008, imports increased by 32% in April 2008 compared to the same month in the previous year. This pushed Belgium’s trade deficit to €5 billion for the first four months of 2008. The National Bank of Belgium predicts a slowing of Belgian exports of goods and services in 2008 in line with flagging global demand but forecasts that exports will start to recover again from 2009.

Best of Belgium

185


BRICâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Breaking the Mold Bernard Pierre, Ambassador of Belgium to China

The global economy is going through rough times. As the dust of the subprime crisis settles, and western economies brace themselves for more, not less uncertainty, one undeniable truth looms large. The epicenter of the global economy is shifting to the east. Or rather more precisely: it is heading into BRIC territory. This is an unavoidable trend. And one that will speed up in the decades to come. The Chinese economy will have

186

Best of Belgium

caught up with the American economy by 2035, as a recent Carnegie Endowment for peace report predicts. It will be twice as large by 2050. The BRICS by that time will have dwarfed the size of the G7 by over a hundred per cent. Does this mean the demise of the old continent is near? I would argue quite the contrary: BRIC markets offer us an unprecedented opportunity to add wealth to our own societies as long as we are able to

expand our exports and attract investment. True, Belgium could do better in this respect. While we are still the fourth most popular investment destination world wide (UNCTAD stats 2006), we seem to find it more difficult to attract BRIC investments. Also, we should urgently increase our export market share in BRIC territory (27th out of 30th place in terms of growth of BRIC exports between 2002 and 2006). The Belgian government however is fully


committed to take up the challenge. It will be all important as Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr Karel de Gucht has repeatedly pointed out, to speedily optimize our economic and public diplomacy tools. Belgium’s trade and investment relations in China are a case in point. Essentially, we will have to shape our answers around a number of key questions: how do we generate a multiplication effect of the investors which are already present in Belgium? How to tap into the resources

of the CIC, China’s Sovereign Wealth Fund? Can we convert technological cooperation into more trade and investment? To what extent does Belgium and its private sector need to brand themselves abroad in a really  country-specific manner? These are issues that trade and Investment Agencies all over in Europe are trying to come to grips with. As BRIC economies and multinationals are maturing, they call for a qualitative leap in our investment policy frameworks. In Belgium’s case, my view is that such a comprehensive approach will depend hugely on intense coordination between all levels over government and, crucially, with the private sector. The ‘how’, so to speak, will be as important as the ‘what’.   Bernard Pierre Ambassador of Belgium in China

Bernard Pierre - Ambassador of Belgium in China

Best of Belgium

187


Economy and Industry

Free-of-Charge Expert Advice Flanders is a small region, but big in doing business with the rest of the world. To support its fast-growing economy, both local and foreign companies can count on the support from Flanders Investment & Trade. As a government agency, we provide free-of-charge expert advice to foreign companies who have their eye on Flanders.

Los Angeles

St. Petersburg Moscow Nizhny Novgorod Kiev

Montreal Toronto New York Chicago Atlanta

Algiers Casablanca

Mexico City

Tripoli

Tasjkent

Istanbul

Tunis

Teheran Damascus Bagdad Kuwait

Tel Aviv Caïro

Riyad

Havana

Beijng

Seoul

Tokyo Osaka Shanghai

Islamabad New Delhi

Dubai

Guangzhou Hanoi

Mumbai Bangalore

Taipei Hongkong

Bangkok

Manilla

Abidjan Bogota

Nairobi

Singapore

Kinshasa Jakarta

Sao Paulo

Helsinki

Oslo

Johannesburg

Stockholm

Santiago Buenos Aires

Montevideo

Edinburgh

Copenhagen

Sydney Vilnius

Warsaw Birmingham Berlin The Hague Poznan London Cologne Lille Prague Stuttgart Paris Geneva Munich Bratislava Vienna Zürich Budapest Ljubljana Lyon Zagreb Milan Bordeaux Bucharest Belgrado Rome Madrid Sofia Barcelona Lisbon Athens

Dublin

Our worldwide network

Looking to locate or 1expand your business 315/29 Wereldkaarten FIT-Netwerk.indd in Flanders? Flanders Investment & Trade can assist with your plans to locate your operational base in Flanders, at the heart of Europe. We provide you with useful insights and up-todate information on a wide range of aspects relating to business relocation, such as:

• site selection and local labor supply; • legal aspects, tax benefits and government incentives; • business, government and academic contacts; • integration into local community life.

188

Best of Belgium

Once established in Flanders, we assist you, among other things, with your expansion plans and help you identify new export markets. Looking for high-quality suppliers? If you are a company selling foreign products, Flanders is a place worth running your ruler over. Its industries offer many high-quality, innovative and semi-manufactured products that will astound you. This region is noted, the world over, for its • renowned chemical, logistics, automotive and life sciences industries;

• cutting-edge building materials,10-04-2008 interior 14:47:39 design and environmental technology firms; • top fashion designers and diamond cutting industry; • breweries and producers of delicious chocolates. We can help you get in touch with the many suppliers of profitable products developed and produced here in Flanders. Looking for support in your quest for innovation? Flanders Investment & Trade supports both local and foreign companies in their ongoing


© Imec

© Imec © Televic

quest for innovation. We provide, among other things, expert advice and guidance for: • Obtaining government subsidies for innovation projects; • Tax incentives for R&D staff and for patentderived income; • Partnerships with our research centers and knowledge cluster; • Joint ventures and transfer of technology with Flemish hi-tech companies. To encourage the flow of innovative and technological know-how between Flemish and foreign companies, centers of knowledge and

government bodies, Flanders Investment & Trade had posted several technology attachés around the globe: • Information and Communication Technology (Mumbai, India); • Biotechnology and Nanotechnology (Tokyo, Japan); • Biotechnology (New York, USA); • Environment & Energy (Beijing, China); • Information and Communication Technology (Los Angeles, USA). Our global network at your service Flanders Investment & Trade has an extensive

network of representatives in over 90 cities around the globe. To find out more on what Flanders has to offer foreign companies looking to do business in and with the European region of the future, visit: www.flandersinvestmentandtrade.com

Flanders Investment & Trade Gaucheretstraat 90 1030 Brussels, Belgium Tel: +32 2 504 87 11 Fax: +32 2 504 88 99 E-mail:info@fitagency.com www.flandersinvestmentandtrade.com

Best of Belgium

189


Economy and Industry

In One City… All of Europe BRUSSELS: the decision-making heart of Europe

Headquarters of the majority of the European institutions and of many international organizations, the Brussels-Capital Region is not only the political decision-making center of the EU, it is also a major financial centre. Furthermore, thanks to its position in the economic heart of Europe and its excellent accessibility, the Region is an ideal gateway to the wider European market. The importance of Brussels as an economic centre cannot be overemphasized. In numerical terms, Brussels accounts for 20 percent of Belgium’s overall GDP and 17 percent of the nation’s jobs. It is also home to some 54.000 companies and exports more than half of its production. Brussels’ economic fabric is mainly made up of SMEs. They are export-oriented, diverse and successful, often building their business around “quality” and “know-how”. Indeed, the Region has acquired a reputation for the diversity and creativity of many of its companies. In order to boost the economic success of companies either already in Brussels or setting up in Brussels, the Region offers two comprehensive support services: • Brussels Exports, one of these services, works to promote trade between companies in Brussels and companies abroad. Created through a partnership between the Foreign Trade Department of the Ministry of the Brussels-Capital Region and Brussels Enterprises Commerce and Industry (BECI), the agency assists Brussels exporters by offering a wide range of services, including: - Information regarding Brussels products and services for foreign companies; - Customized assistance for exporters from Brussels and abroad, thanks to a network of over eighty economic and commercial attachés worldwide; - Organization of economic missions, contact days, stands on international trade fairs and meetings with foreign buyers;

190

Best of Belgium

- Management of a Brussels’ exporters database, available on www.brusselsexporters.be; - Answering of any questions related to EU matters by way of the “Enterprise Europe Brussels”. • Invest in Brussels, a second support service, operates within the Brussels Enterprise Agency, an organization supported by the Brussels Regional Government. It promotes inward investment by providing assistance to overseas companies planning to set up and develop a business in Brussels. Besides supplying free office space as part of a Welcome Package, Invest in Brussels supplies free and confidential advice in matters of taxation, legal issues, public grants and business development.

www.brussels.irisnet.be

E-mail: infos@brussels-export.irisnet.be www.brusselstrade.be www.brussels-exporters.be

E-mail: info@bea.irisnet.be www.investinbrussels.com


<:C:G>H"6EGDEDHĂ&#x201E;Â?E>8IJG:H/IDB6HO<JAA6!9G:6BI>B:"6C9GwHI:K:CH"GN6CB8K6N!E=DID9>H8"7GJCD76AH6B6"6G8=>I:8IH/E#K6C9:GHIG6:I:CH><B6(!E=#H6BNC

Wallonia Foreign Trade and Investment Agency

8gZViZ  :mX]Vc\Z  <gdl

Although Wallonia generates only 0.60% of European Union GDP, its share of exports is almost twice as high. Walloon sales as part of total European Union external trade have grown by 15% over the past 10 years. This means that the trend amongst Walloon enterprises has been to increase their market share against their European counterparts throughout the world for the past decade. Exports are on an identical trend, rising by an annual average of 8.5%. This result places Walloniaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s performance at a higher level than that of its immediate neighbours and of the EU15 as a whole. Foreign investment is also a driving force of regional development as foreign companies setting up in Wallonia represent 75% of turnover, more than 70% of employees and 55% of its exports. During the past 7 years (2000-2007), foreign companies have invested close to 5 billion euros in Wallonia, leading to the creation of more than 13,290 jobs. This trend indicates real business dynamism. It is the fruit of the changing economic and industrial environment in Wallonia which started to develop ten years ago. This success results largely from the ability of its enterprises to innovate. The high percentage of SMEs (95%), offering flexibility and a multilingual and

LVaadc^V

% 8 [ b ] _ k c

:mXZaaZcXZ Vii]Z]ZVgid[:jgdeZ

J^[Wii[ji\eh]hemj^

"NTUFSEBN -POEPO

 ;  ^cVcX^Va^cXZci^kZh[dgZmedgihVcY^ckZhibZci! adlZgWjh^cZhhiVmZhVcYZVhnVXXZhhidXVe^iVa Wddhi\gdli]^cLVaadc^V#

#SVTTFMT

LVaadc^V

7Ykbjkh[e\fWhjd[hi^_f

 L  Vaadc^VĂ&#x2030;hZmXZaaZcXZ^hWVhZYdci]ZZm^hiZcXZ d[VcZildg`d[]^\]anh`^aaZYaVWdjgVcYd[G9 jc^ihYZY^XViZYid^ccdkVi^dc#

'SBOLGVSU 1BSJT

7Yecf[j_j_l[h[]_ed

 I  gVchedgiVcYad\^hi^Xh!VZgdcVji^XhVcYheVXZ ^cYjhign!V\g^Wjh^cZhh!bZX]Vc^XVaZc\^cZZg^c\! VcYa^[ZhX^ZcXZh/*edaZhd[XdbeZi^i^kZcZhh VcYhZkZgVadi]ZgXajhiZghejiLVaadc^VVii]Z [dgZ[gdcid[egd\gZhh#

highly qualified labour force, has enabled Wallonia to position itself in a number of niche sectors. Although the spirit of enterprise appears to be vital to any economic redeployment, the mobilisation of all its energies â&#x20AC;&#x201C; academic, scientific and political â&#x20AC;&#x201C; is also a key factor of its success. These are the principles that underpin the Walloon governmentâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Marshall Plan for Wallonia, designed to stimulate the creation of businesses and jobs. With a major transversal international dimension, the Plan aims to focus on a few major economic fields in which Wallonia is highly competitive (aeronautics-space, food processing, life sciences, mechanical engineering and logistics-transport). In this framework the actors involved have pooled their strengths to accomplish shared objectives. The Plan also provides tax breaks to boost the competitiveness of enterprises with the creation of free zones and a strong focus on training, job support and the social sector. These are just some of the measures that will increase the attractiveness of Wallonia, which naturally already benefits from many international assets, for both buyers and investors: its central geographical position just a short distance from the EU Capital, its multimodal communication

lll#lVaadc^V"^ciZgcVi^dcVa#WZ

infrastructure fully interconnected with the European networks, the availability of space in industrial and science parks, its level of education and training, its culture of partnership with scientific and technological centres of excellence (300 research centres; 60% of Belgian spin-offs), the networking of its high added value industrial fabric, the availability of its managersâ&#x20AC;Ś and so on. Not forgetting its human qualities! Wallonia is a welcoming and friendly region, rich in tradition and proud of its multicultural components, which have forged a spirit of tolerance. It is quite simply a beautiful place to live and to discover!

www.wallonia-international.be

Best of Belgium

191


Economy and Industry

Belgians Building the Middle East Belgium’s top construction and dredging companies are closely involved in the multi-billion dollar building boom in the Middle East with major construction and land reclamation projects in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Burj Dubai - Tallest Building in the World

One of the most striking projects in the Middle East building boom is the construction of the world’s tallest tower, the Burj Dubai, scheduled for completion and occupation in the UAE’s financial and trading hub in September 2009. The projected final height of the Burj Dubai remains a secret but industry observers estimate it will be approximately 818 metres high with 162 habitable floors, making it the world’s tallest free-standing structure. Top Belgian construction firm Besix is one of the primary builders on the project together

192

Best of Belgium

with Samsung Engineering & Construction and Arabtec. Besix is also involved in the construction of a $40 billion development on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi which includes a retail centre, hotels, a leisure complex and a Formula One motor racing circuit. Qatar’s building boom has also provided exciting opportunities to Belgium’s leading dredging groups, Dredging, Environmental and Marine Engineering (DEME) and Jan De Nul, who between them had an annual turnover of €2.5 billion in 2007 and employed 7,800 people worldwide.

DEME was closely involved in the Pearl Qatar project which features a 400hectare residential island. DEME’s €152 million share of the project consisted of dredging, reclamation, soil improvement, dry earth and rock excavation, onsite quarrying, and shore protection. In 2007 the group also completed a 1,700hectare land reclamation to create a platform for the new Doha international airport in Qatar’s capital city. Fellow Belgian dredging giant Jan De Nul recently signed a contract with Qatar


Emirates Tower Dubai

The Palm Jumeirah

Petroleum to extend the port of Mesaieed. The €330 million contract, awarded to a consortium of Jan De Nul and STFA, will see Jan De Nul constructing an extra 350 metre quay wall and dredging five million m³ of relatively hard rock to a depth of -15.5m and over a distance of 4.5km. The total duration of the contract including the civil works is two years. World’s longest bridge DEME is also part of a consortium that recently signed a $3 billion design-build

contract with the Qatar-Bahrain Causeway Foundation for the construction of a 40 km causeway between the two countries. The “Friendship Bridge” as it is called will be the longest bridge in the world and consist of a 2x2-lane, fixed motorway link between the two Gulf states. It will feature 18 km of embankments and 22 km of viaducts and bridges, including two 400-metre cable-stayed bridges allowing shipping to pass through deeper waters. The other partners in the consortium are Vinci Construction Grands Projets, Hochtief

and CCC. The dredging work will be undertaken by the Middle East Dredging Company (MEDCO), a subsidiary of DEME. The causeway will cut the current five-hour road journey between the two countries to 30 minutes and be a major boost for trade and tourism. Following rigorous environmental and ecological assessments, the four-year project is scheduled to get underway in early 2009. The bridge will come into service in 2013 with an estimated daily traffic of 12,000 vehicles.

Best of Belgium

193


Economy and Industry

Creating New Land Worldwide through Comprehensive Engineering

© Legendes

Dredging, land reclamation, silt and soil cleaning, creating, transforming, restoring, rehabilitating and marine engineering. The successful Belgian-based Dredging, Environmental and Marine Engineering (DEME) group does all of these (and more) as part of its comprehensive engineering efforts across the globe.

Port development, Sepetiba, Brazil

With 150 years of experience, an annual group turnover of €1.3 billion in 2007 and a combined workforce of 3,500 people, the DEME group is a world leader in its sector, providing a diverse range of high tech operations across the globe — from Europe, the Middle East, Africa, India, China, and Australia to South America. DEME was established as a holding company in 1991 and includes names such as Dredging International and Baggerwerken Decloedt in the dredging sector, Tideway, GEOSEA and Scaldis Salvage & Marine Contractors in marine engineering and oiland-gas related activities; DEC, de Vries & van de Wiel and Ecoterres in environmental techniques; and DEME Building Materials (DBM) in fluvial and marine aggregates. The group’s success can be attributed to the unique and valuable contributions of each member, which complement the activities of the other companies. In its home market of Europe for example, the group’s headline project in Belgium, the construction of the C-Power far-shore wind

194

Best of Belgium

farm, involves a range of specialist activities. This contract requires thirty 45 metre-high gravity-based foundations to be installed on pre-dredged foundation pits 30 km. off the Belgian coast for its 5MW wind turbines. “In this project we have dredging, heavy lifting at sea, stone dumping activities, trench dredging, cable laying and directional drilling – and the whole project delivers renewable energy,” says Hubert Fiers, communications manager for DEME. “So it is a really good example of how the synergies within the one group can work.” While DEME’s European base provides a backyard to try out new things and train its staff for their overseas contracts, 80% of the group’s turnover is generated in other regions. In the Middle East DEME has recently built, in partnership, a 400-hectare residential island in Qatar. Here petro-dollars can purchase the creation of entire islands. DEME’s €152 million contract in this so-called Pearl Qatar project involves dredging, reclamation, soil improvement, dry earth and rock excavation, onsite quarrying, and shore protection. In

2007 the group also completed a 1,700 hectare reclamation to create a platform for the new Doha international airport. In the UAE, DEME is constructing the Al Raha Beach waterfront in Abu Dhabi and the Al Marjan artificial islands in Ras Al Khaimah; A new 350 million Euro contract has been awarded there for the construction of the huge artificial island Al Dana. Important international projects in Asia and Oceania include the construction of two new ports in India at Damhra and Gangavaram, the creation of Jurong island in Singapore and the operation of one of DEME’s jumbo trailers in several port access channels in China for the past two years. The project in Singapore entails the joining of seven islands into one to create a petrochemical hub for the East Asian region. Some 5000 hectares of land are being created in the process and 70% of the project has so far been completed. I n Australia, DEME has just finished a deepening project on the west coast at Cape Lambert while it recently won contracts for maintenance dredging at


© Legendes

© Legendes

© Legendes

Stone revetment works for the protection of the new industrial areas reclaimed at Jurong Island, Singapore

© Legendes

Thorntonbank wind farm off the Belgian coast

Al Marjan Island Development – Ras Al Khaimah – U.A.E.

Bunbury, Port Hedland and for deepening the approach channel to the port of Gladstone. In a new €100 million contract, DEME undertakes a major extension of Newcastle, Australia’s major coal port. In South America, DEME has completed a major port development at Sepetiba in Brazil and has started a new port access dredging work in Itaguai, also in Sepetiba Bay. Maintenance dredging works have been executed in the Orinoco River and Maracaibo Lake in Venezuela for a number of years now. In West Africa, DEME coordinates its activities in the region from its base in Nigeria whilst the group’s projects in South Africa include the creation of an entirely new access channel to the port of Durban and extensive maintenance dredging in Richard’s Bay. In Angola, Luanda Bay is being given a new waterfront, while a new site platform is being reclaimed in Soyo. Environmental projects Approximately 10% of DEME’s business entails environmental projects. This is

Rainbowing activities for the Coega harbour development in South Africa

but one aspect of DEME’s contribution to sustainable development. DEME focuses on environmentally-friendly dredging techniques while also carrying out remediation and decontamination of silt and soils. DEME’s work treating dredged materials includes working on landside projects, cleaning up the soils of petrochemical sites, brownfield rehabilitation, remediation of so called “black spots”, remediation of waste deposit areas, and landscaping. Its UK subsidiary, DEC UK, participates in the cleaning of 500 hectares of contaminated soil on the area earmarked at Stratford for the London Olympics 2012 site. Positioning for the future While DEME will always be, first and foremost, a dredging company, they have established satellites around this core business in support. Two important strategies for the future are the maintenance of a “good geographical spread” and a multi-disciplinary approach. Fiers points out that having a worldwide presence makes the group less dependent on cyclical fluctuations

while a wide spread of activities gives DEME the opportunity to offer total turnkey solutions and packages to clients. “What we do allows future generations to prosper,” says Fiers. “We are creating new infrastructure, new ports, new residential areas and new sites for sports and recreation facilities. We are making positive tracks to create a better living world for tomorrow.”

DEME Dredging, Marine, Environmental Engineering Haven 1025, Scheldedijk 30 B-2070 Zwijndrecht Belgium Tel: +32 (0)3-250.52.11 Fax: +32 (0)3-250.56.50 E-mail: info@deme.be www.deme.be

Best of Belgium

195


The Belgian Innovation ‘Formula’

Innovation is a hot topic in Belgium, perhaps too hot, with the result that the term is often abused in hollow marketing slogans. But we need to be clear: from an economic perspective innovation is of fundamental importance to this country. The European Commission’s review of innovation policy (INNO Policy Trendchart 2007) sums it up nicely. Firstly, economic forecasts predict that Belgian growth rates in the coming years will not be sufficiently high to prevent the reappearance of public deficits, or in another scenario, sufficiently high to maintain social protection for an ageing population. Secondly, there is a longterm trend of declining rates of productivity growth. Thirdly, exporters are losing market shares due to the decline in (external) competitiveness of our main export industries. There is only one way out of this economic doom scenario and that is via innovation. It is via innovation that Belgian companies will be able deliver superior value on world markets, thereby increasing revenues and

196

Best of Belgium

margins, and thus economic growth. The alternative is declining wages and protracted social conflict. Looking at Belgian innovation achievements—in sectors such as biotech, engineering, microelectronics, materials, aerospace, industrial design—there are some clear patterns to be observed. To start with the cliché, most Belgian innovative companies are ‘niche’ players, i.e., they are active adjacent to the main categories in their market. They make the often invisible components in the products we as consumers experience. They often occupy a spot earlier on in the value chain, producing a component or supportive system that is required by another product, or a next phase of the value chain. This is no accident. Most Belgian innovative companies have a clearly outlined strategy in that regard. They have identified their category, their market segment, and their strategy is to dominate or lead that category worldwide, both from a technology and market (share) perspective. For example, it is estimated that ICOS Vision


Systems has 70% market share globally in the market for inspection systems for semiconductor manufacturing. EVS, supplier of production systems for TV broadcasters, is the undisputable leader in this category. Melexis—your car is likely to have multiple components made by this company from Tessenderlo. nWave—world leader in 3D films screened on IMAX and theme-park screens worldwide. Also, nearly all these companies are truly global—but not necessarily very large (typically between 50 and 300 million Euro in turnover). The innovation strategy of these companies follows their corporate strategy. The goal, that is, worldwide technical leadership of their category, determines where and how they will invest in innovation. It is not necessary to invent it all oneself—acquisitions and partnerships will do the job too. A second common characteristic that can be observed is the structure of their innovation process. If we conceptualise the innovation process as moving through three phases (Hansen & Birkinshaw, 2007): - idea generation (finding relevant ideas, both within and outside the organisation) to - idea development (screening and funding of new ideas, developing them into viable products or businesses) to - idea diffusion (‘selling’ the ideas to other business units, to distribution channels, to customers) What is remarkable at companies like ICOS Vision Systems, LMS, Bekaert, Umicore, but also smaller companies like Xenics and FOS&S, is that their innovation value chain is anchored at both ends to an innovation ‘ecosystem’, a web-like network of customers, universities, research institutes and suppliers, that feeds the chain with ideas on one end and ensures successful diffusion on the other end. There is no debate about ‘open innovation’—most Belgian innovators are avid proponents of an open approach to innovation. This is entirely in line with the data reported by the European Innovation Scoreboard, that Belgian companies are strong collaborators in their innovation activities. And it is an approach that is only likely to be pushed deeper in the economy, as Wallonia’s Marshall Plan competitiveness poles and the Flemish clusters begin to do their job. Working with universities and research centres is one thing, but it is also apparent how close these companies are working with their customers, such as setting up joint R&D projects. Though not at the scale of a typical multinational, many of these companies are still making the effort to set up offices all over the world. They maintain ‘service’ divisions, even

though their revenues come from product sales. Also, many of these companies are vertically integrated, retaining significant manufacturing operations, even in the face of high operating costs. All of this makes sense, though not in terms of the classic economic models, like economies of scale and competition on the basis of efficiency. These tactics make sense if one competes on the basis of knowledge and know-how, or on the basis of one’s ability to change, to always be at the forefront from a technological perspective, to always be developing new and better products, to respond faster and more effectively to changing market needs. Thirdly, there is the challenge of translating good ideas into feasible products or services—the second phase in the innovation value chain described above. Since much of the innovation in Belgium is technical in nature, companies (and policy makers) have learned that technical innovators, the scientists and engineers, are rarely equipped to bring their technologies to the next level, ready for the market. This is where the most interesting lessons come from companies like Alcatel-Lucent, with its “boot-camp” for new venture teams. Or the Flemish Institute for Biotechnology (VIB), with its professional tech transfer unit that focuses on creating spin-off companies that develop into world-class companies. Or soil fertility specialist DCM, who has set up a research institute that is dedicated to applied research—bringing the world of science and academia closer to economic enterprise. So is there such a thing as a Belgian way, a Belgian approach to innovation? Rationally, it sounds ridiculous. Business is business, wherever one is, the same principles apply. On the other hand, looking at it historically, one could argue that the small size of the Belgian market and its lack of a strong national identity (and lack of a strong federal government), have led to the emergence of niche players. The argument is well known: a large home market enables the development of large companies, hence the prominence of so many large US companies on the world stage. Also, a strong (or chauvinistic) national government will do its best to help set up and protect large national enterprises. Hence the approach of successful Belgian companies: keep a lower profile, do not create too much noise, focus on a niche where the crowd isn’t looking, work hard to offer quality, and work smoothly with others, be it your customers, your suppliers, whoever you need to work with. Chauvinism is not the Belgian way, unless you get us started on food. So much for the niche players, the technical innovators—but what about the strategic innovators, the business

model innovators? It seems clear that the Belgian innovation story, if we must simplify and summarise, is one that in the main is concerned with technical innovation. Numerous commentators make the point. We seem to lack the high-growth companies, the companies that are able to “upscale” their assets rapidly and globally. Also, the business model innovators are a rare species in Belgium. There are such major structural shifts happening globally in the music industry, in media, in travel. Even the financial sector seems to be at the brink of major change. Markets worth billions are evaporating to be claimed by new emerging business models. Jobs are being lost, but thousands more are being created. There do appear to be some interesting Belgian companies who are recognising those shifts and figuring out ways to ride those waves. Companies like Netlog, a social networking site, with a membership base of 30 million users. nWave is another company to watch, if the shift toward 3D media does occur then this is a company that will truly explode in the value it is able to create. These are not specifically technical innovators; instead, they tweak business models or combine existing technologies in new ways to create new user experiences. Muriel Scherre (La Fille d’O) is another entrepreneur to learn from, in the way she is creating an entirely unique user experience. We have a sense that many more such companies are emerging in the country, we just cannot recognise the winners yet. Entrepreneurship is increasingly ‘cool’, there is a tremendous well of creative and technical talent to draw on, and there is capital available. Admittedly, this is not a tidal wave of inspiration—the potential is much greater. But the energy, the creativity is recognisable, for the casual observer perhaps most obvious in music and the arts. Let the entrepreneurs now follow.

This article is based on the recently published book ‘Innovators: Innovation & Design in Belgium’, published by The Fifth Conference in 2008.

Best of Belgium

197


Economy and Industry

Belchim Crop Protection A strong challenger in the European crop protection market

From its origin in a potato shed twenty-one years ago to its position as a leader in the crop protection industry today, Belchim Crop Protection (Belchim) has shown remarkable growth and has adapted well to the changes in the industry. In 2007 it earned consolidated annual revenues of â&#x201A;Ź170 million and currently operates in 19 European countries. Managing director and the driving force behind Belchim, Dirk Putteman was introduced to the crop protection industry at the young age of 21 at Schering. At the age of 30, he founded his own crop protection business, Belchim, in 1987. By the late 1990s, after expansion in The Netherlands, Belchim Benelux was ready for further enlargement and Putteman sought and found

198

Best of Belgium

a strategic partnership with two established international research and development companies which allowed not only a more specialised product portfolio, but also further expansion into Europe. The company was renamed Belchim Crop Protection (Belchim) and is now a large player operating in the European crop protection market competing with Syngenta, Bayer Crop Sciences and BASF. Belchim operates in 19 European countries and has plans to extend operations to the newer European member states. The company operates from its HQ in Londerzeel, Belgium, but a flexible reporting structure enables the various European entities to retain a strongly market-oriented approach.


State-of-the-art products Belchim carries a broad range of state-of-theart crop protection products which include specialty products for important European crops such as potatoes, grapes, vegetables and maize. The product range is adapted to the needs of each country. For example in the Benelux countries products are geared towards potatoes and vegetables while in France, Germany and the United Kingdom the product range covers vines, potatoes, oil seed rape and vegetables. Putteman says that Belchim has been well received in the market since it provides a welcome alternative to the big multinationals. Some of the products, such as RANMAN® against late blight in potatoes, have become the standard in crop protection.

“Filling the gaps” A major challenge to the European crop protection industry has been the increasing demands from the agrifood sector and consumers alike for more targeted use of plant protection products, as well as more environmentally friendly pesticides. This has led to an active phase of mergers and acquisitions and increasing internationalisation as smaller companies have seen their profit margins shrink. Belchim has been able to take advantage of the changing market dynamics and has strived to fill the gaps that have opened up. For instance the product SPOTLIGHT®, from its origin an herbicide to be used for weed control in cereals has been introduced in the cultivation of potatoes as a harvest aid and has recently been developed in the vine growing too. Belchim has launched the insecticide TEPPEKI® against aphids in various crops. This innovative product has a very good toxicological profile and can be used in IPM, Integrated Pest Management. TEPPEKI® kills the aphids that are harmful to the crop, but leaves the beneficial insects, the natural predators of the aphids such as the ladybird, unharmed. This way, nature and chemicals work side by side to protect the plant. Putteman says that they are working towards further expansion of Belchim Crop Protection’s Bioline (such as biopesticides) which is good not only for clients but also for

the image of the company and the sector as a whole. An exciting development in this regard has been the cooperation with the German Prophyta Biologischer Pflanzenschutz GmbH company. Belchim markets Prophyta’s biological fungicide, CONTANS®, which is a natural fungus that successfully counters Sclerotinia, a plant disease which affects over 300 different field, vegetable and herb crops. In the face of stricter industry norms and consumer pressure, Belchim has seen impressive growth, which resulted in acquiring the Belgian crop protection company Protex. This recent takeover is estimated to increase Belchim’s Belgian market share by 5% and will add another €10 million to its annual turnover. Putteman says that as the registration holder and exclusive supplier of more than 100 different products, Protex brings a wealth of experience to Belchim. Such knowledge is invaluable in helping Belchim to continue to provide state-of-the-art crop protection products, service and advice to its customers, and in keeping Belchim’s stakeholders, staff and strategic partners happy.

Belchim Crop Protection nv/sa Neringstraat 15 B-1840 Londerzeel Belgium Email: info@belchim.com www.belchim.com

Best of Belgium

199


The Vitalo Group Founded in 1936, the Vitalo Group became one of Europeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s leading producers of plastics solutions for various economic sectors.

The Vitalo Group has a strategic global presence, headquartered in Belgium, ensuring its right place to react rapidly and professionally to the demands of its global client base. Besides its presence in Belgium, the group has production facilities in China, the Philippines, Thailand, India, Mexico and Slovakia. The group also has sales offices in Japan, Korea and the US and competence centers in Belgium and the Philippines. Mid 1998 the Vitalo Group became a part of Koramic Investment Group from the Belgian entrepreneur Mr. Christian Dumolin. Today, the Vitalo Group employs over 1000 people and realizes a consolidated revenue of more than 85 million EURO. The Vitalo Group is specialized in thermoforming and over the years, the company has developed expertise in a wide

200

Best of Belgium


range of plastics processing technologies, including single and twin sheet vacuum forming, acoustic materials and thermocompression of natural and synthetic fibres. The Vitalo Group has two divisions, Vitalo Packaging and Vitalo Industries. Vitalo Industries excels in the design and production of thermoformed and insulation components for earth moving equipment, agricultural vehicles, bus and railway, healthcare, electronics and industrial equipment. Vitalo Packaging specializes in developing and producing high–end thermoformed precision packaging and technical components. Vitalo Packaging integrates in-house design, tooling and production know-how with a flexible, customer driven approach for the medical, HDD, electronic and telecom markets. Tight specifications and sharp detail are the buzzwords for the Vitalo Group. The properties - antistatic or conductive - can be as important as the shape of the packaging itself. For medical equipment, the packaging must offer total physical protection for the product it contains. Complete sterilisation is mandatory, and Vitalo meets and surpasses the internationally agreed standards for the packaging of these materials, which is done in specially designed cleanrooms. The Vitalo Group has experienced healthy and continued growth since its early days, and spurred on by the unique and specific challenges in each different market, it has expanded into a total solutions company for plastic solutions. It works closely with clients, developing the right concept for each individual requirement and bringing these concepts to fruition in the most efficient and cost-effective manner. Clients are encouraged to get involved at the earliest possible stage. This enables them to benefit from Vitalo’s expertise every step of the way

from initial conceptualization right through to manufacturing and supply. The end product is a seamless integration of concept, design, and meticulous product development processes. Rigorous testing takes place before it is released into the market. In addition to its technical know-how and core design skills, Vitalo’s other major advantage is its global reach. Vitalo has a presence in all the major time zones of the world. These factories’ operations are all standardized. Each one uses exactly the same processes and equipment to provide clients around the world with consistent products, punctual deliveries, and the minimum time from design to market. Thanks to the consolidated global supply management in Vitalo’s worldwide locations, it can also guarantee the best raw material sourcing possible. The Vitalo group has recently undergone an organizational increase of efficiency by integrating Vitalo Packaging with Vitalo Techcenter, the company’s engineering and competence centre. This has streamlined the operation, allowing it to be even more responsive to its clients’ needs. In the fast-changing world of thermoforming, ongoing research and development is an integral part of Vitalo’s strategy. Every year, a larger budget is allocated to research and development, to advance the strong global and technical platform, which keeps it at the forefront of its business. The most important consideration at present is the environment. With clients who are increasingly environmentally focused and aware, the Vitalo Group is constantly working to source more environmentally friendly solutions that are still competitive on price. The company invests in its own research and development, collaborates with research institutes and universities, and sponsors

the theses of university students who are exploring environmental shifts. This way it keeps up to date with the latest advances in environmentally friendly developments, and has a head start in bringing these innovations to market. With its wealth of experience and its ongoing investment in research and strategic thinking, Vitalo’s future looks bright. The company has exciting plans ahead, with product differentiation providing a new key to success.

Vitalo Group Bruggesteenweg 7 B-8760 Meulebeke Belgium E-mail: group@be.vitalo.net www.vitalo.net

Best of Belgium

201


Hansen Transmissions Hansen Transmissions is an established global wind turbine gearbox and industrial gearbox designer, manufacturer and supplier, with a leading position (by MW supplied) in the wind turbine gearbox market.

Hansen supplies gearboxes to four of the five largest manufacturers of gear-driven wind turbines globally and provides durable gear drives for a wide range of industrial applications throughout the world. Hansen plans to increase its wind turbine gearbox manufacturing capabilities nearly four-fold, from 3,800MW per annum as at 31 March 2007, to 14,300MW, by 2012. In addition to its principal manufacturing facilities in Belgium - comprising a wind turbine and industrial gearbox plant at Edegem and a fully integrated state-of-the-art dedicated wind turbine gearbox manufacturing facility at Lommel - Hansen has a large new plant

202

Best of Belgium

under construction in Coimbatore, India and in China. Hansen has strong research and development operations to maintain its technological leadership and employs more than 1800 people worldwide. In addition to wind turbine gearboxes, Hansen Transmissions supplies drive solutions for a wide range of industrial applications in industries such as the chemicals, energy, material handling, environmental, extraction, pulp and paper, steel and metal, food and beverage, and construction, including such areas as bucket elevators, car crushers, cement kilns, conveyor systems, industrial mixers, paper mills, pulpers, and water


treatment systems like aerator drives, screw pump drives and brush aerator drives for waste water treatment plants. To respond to increased demand from our wind turbine customers as well as the forecast increase in global demand for wind energy generally, we are taking steps to increase our manufacturing capabilities from 3,800MW per annum (as at 31 March 2007) to 14,300MW per annum by 2012. This resulted in an expansion project at our Lommel facility to treble the current manufacturing capabilities, as well as in the construction of new plants in Coimbatore, India and in China. Our expertise in the design and manufacture of gearboxes has resulted in high quality products and efficient manufacturing processes. Our tailor-made wind turbine gearboxes have low noise and vibration levels and high torque density and power to weight ratios. We have strong in-house testing and quality control capabilities and devote significant resources to our research and development operations to maintain and enhance our technological leadership. Wind Turbine Gearboxes The gearbox is a critical component of gear-driven wind turbines. It converts the motion of the rotating blades to a higher speed which is required to drive an electric generator. The load and torque characteristics of wind applications are such that the design and manufacture of wind turbine gearboxes is very demanding and requires specialist expertise and highly specialised manufacturing capabilities. Hansenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s wind turbine gearboxes are designed by us in close collaboration with our customers for use around the world. Our wind turbine gearboxes have developed over time to meet customer demands for larger and more powerful wind turbines. Our first range of wind turbine gearboxes were of a standard type with an initial capacity of 30kW, increasing to 1.5MW by 1995, which today is at the smaller end of the scale in our wind turbine gearbox product range.

Increased trends towards larger and more powerful turbines in recent years have led to the development of larger wind turbine gearboxes with increased capacity and we are in the process of developing larger and more powerful gearboxes and integrated gearboxes with additional accessories. Hansenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s current wind turbine gearbox product is the Hansen W4 which is a tailormade gearbox for wind turbines in a power range that varies between 1.5MW and 4.5MW, and we are also currently developing gearboxes with a capacity of up to 6MW. Our extensive expertise in the design and manufacture of gearboxes has resulted in high quality products and efficient manufacturing processes. Our tailormade wind turbine gearboxes have low noise and vibration levels and high torque density and power to weight ratios. Industrial Gearboxes Our industrial gearbox product range consists of a core standardised selection covering over a hundred different applications in a torque range from 6kNm to 800kNm which are suitable for both right angle and parallel shaft configurations in either horizontal or vertical arrangements. Throughout our history, four generations of standardised industrial gearboxes have been developed, the latest generation being the Hansen P4 which is a modular design that can be adapted to suit customer requirements through extensive applications engineering during the sales process. We have also expanded our traditional product portfolio for the industrial market through the development of a new series of industrial gearboxes, the Hansen M-Series, which is also based on a modular design, enables a configured-to-order approach, and delivers a competitively priced product at the lower end of the Hansen P4 torque range. Technology is key Our strong track record and existing customer relationships are beneficial for the generation

of new business opportunities. We provide a strong technological track record and the ability to offer additional services such as commissioning of equipment, as well as strong product development skills and an understanding of the importance of research and development expenditure to develop cost competitive manufacturing processes for the production of high quality industrial gearboxes. Finally, industrial gearbox customers are increasingly looking for gearbox manufacturers with a global service and sales network and proven distribution and support capabilities. We have strong in-house testing and quality control capabilities, and devote significant resources to our research and development operations to maintain and enhance our technological leadership. Our extensive expertise in the design and manufacture of gearboxes has resulted in high quality products and efficient manufacturing processes. This, coupled with our growing Services offering, supports our leading role in the gearbox industry.

Hansen Transmissions International NV Leonardo da Vincilaan 1 B-2650 Edegem (Antwerp) Belgium Tel: +32 (0) 3 450 12 11 Fax: +32 (0) 3 450 12 20 E-mail: sales@hansentransmissions.com www.hansentransmissions.com

Best of Belgium

203


Economy and Industry

Randstad: Making Business about People Belgium is full of talent, and Randstad’s role is to bring that talent together with world class organisations.

Its innovative view of work is summed up in the motto, “to know, serve and trust”: and that motto holds true not just for Randstad but for the entire employment chain. This dedication to its position as a “people services” company, and its commitment to community, has led it to be the first company in Belgium to achieve the SA 8000 accreditation for decent working conditions.

204

Best of Belgium

For over 40 years, Randstad has been providing companies and employees in Belgium with staffing services. That mission has evolved through the years along with the needs of the job market. From its beginnings as a temporary employment agency, Randstad has developed into a leader in matching demand for and supply of labour and HR services.

Randstad, with its global headquarters in the Netherlands, is the third largest staffing company in the world based on revenue. In 2007, it generated revenue of €9.2 billion, with a net income of €384.9 million, from its 2,886 branches located in 19 countries around the world. In Belgium, Randstad employs weekly 35,400 people working for 17,000 different


clients, making it the most important private employer in the country. Its multiple subsidiaries guarantee its position as an allround service-provider in the area of human resources: Randstad Belgium, Randstad Construct, Randstad Household Services, Randstad Professionals, Randstad HR Solutions and Randstad Training. The services it offers are divided into five categories. Mass-customised is what Randstad considers to be its ‘regular’ business. This includes staffing, permanent placement and (high-volume) specialties. The in-house category involves on-site presence at the employers’ premises, to handle total HR management, including recruitment and selection, training, planning, retention and management reporting. Interim professionals, the third category, matches specialists and consultants with professional qualifications in ICT, technology, finance domain and life sciences to interim middle and senior management positions. Finally, HR solutions includes HR project management, HR management and HR consultancy services. What makes the company special, though, isn’t just the many services it offers. Randstad instead differentiates itself on the basis of its values, philosophy and certification. Values: Randstad actively promotes the interests of everyone in the employment chain. This goes far beyond employees and employers, and includes its own staff, shareholders and other stakeholders such as ministries, trade unions and suppliers. Since the beginning, the company has recognized that by helping everyone – for example, by helping companies and institutions develop networks, Randstad benefits as well. © Reporters Philippe Buissin – Randstad, official partner of Justine Henin

Philosophy: Randstad’s philosophy is based on the understanding that doing business is a continuous process of interchange between commerce and society, to the benefit of both. For that reason, the company makes sure to represent equally the positions of the two sides of the job equation: both the employer and the employee. Its CSR activities – including work on diversity and involvement with international development organisation Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO), reflect this inclusive philosophy. Certification: Being a responsible member of the Belgian community is a priority for Randstad, which was the first business in Belgium to gain SA 8000 accreditation. This international ethics standard covers topics such as child labour, forced labour, health, safety, trade union rights, discrimination, working hours, pay and communication. “A

company whose essential activity is to create connections between people and employment cannot do otherwise than be involved in society,” explains Herman Nijns, Managing Director, Randstad Group Belgium. Randstad also holds ISO 9001:2000 certification. This focus on “fair play” and ethics, along with Belgian pride, has led Randstad to sponsor another top performer: Justine Henin, the Belgian World Champion tennis player. The company sees Justine as an excellent representative of its own values: she strives for perfection, she is innovative, she is a source of inspiration and she works hard to win. She is also involved in the fight against doping in sports, and was awarded the UNESCO ‘Champion of Sport’ prize in June 2006. With her international image highlighting strength of character, commitment to excellence, fair

play and integrity, she is an ideal platform for Randstad’s international branding. Randstad’s growth continues apace, thanks to its buy-out of Dutch staffing company Vedior. While this merger will result in the company becoming the 2nd largest staffing company in the world, for Randstad its true importance lies in the expanded market presence it brings. The merger will significantly increase Randstad’s position in specialist areas for skilled workers like nurses and accountants, the fastest-growing segment of the staffing market. It will also strengthen Randstad’s overall situation, as demand for workers slows in some European countries.

www.randstad.be

Best of Belgium

205


People Management

Introduction “Because people are important”. This classic among the elections slogans has developed over the course of the years into the icon of one-liners. Enter “because people are important” just on Google today and you get 3,710,000 hits. Not bad, definitely not if you compare it with “washes whiter than white” that only gets 12,800 hits. Politics revolves around people. OK, but management just the same. Because what makes the difference between successful and lesssuccessful businesses? Not the quality of their fleet or the power of their computers, also not the raw materials or thousandand-one things that we use daily. Is it possible that the simple slogan of days past contains a wealth of truth? Undoubtedly! People are our most important capital. With this bromide we already get closer to the traditional management-speak. The pronouncement is not in the least popular. Only 84 hits. One of it leads to an amusing website (http://taan.eu) where the intriguing

206

Best of Belgium

observation is made that most companies, however, talk a lot about “people are our most important capital” but in reality perform more maintenance on their copying machines than on their people’s capacities. Beautiful quote but grossly exaggerated? Yes, of course. Only it can’t do any harm not just to listen to what is being said but also to have a look at what is being done. What does personnel policy mean in reality? What could it be? What does it produce? Are companies with a sophisticated and, admittedly, a personnel policy that costs quite a bit, also more effective? Differently said: is it worth it to invest in people?

A little bit of literature as a warm-up exercise Before entering into the pragmatics of dayto-day personnel policy, it’s worth the effort to quickly get into the helicopter and admire the landscape. First just look at the forest and then at the trees later. It’s impossible to keep pace. It’s a full-time job just to read

the back flap of all the new books which appear about human resources, personnel & organization or whatever you’d like to call it. Let alone each time embark on the complete book. And nevertheless, to read something from time to time… rewards the (big) effort. But then what to choose from that supply of thousands of “classics”? Take, e.g., “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey. And, no doubt, for those for whom the whole tome is too weighty, a summary exists somewhere.

Why would we make the effort? For quite a few people personnel policy consists of recruiting people, spotlessly administering their file, ensuring that they are correctly paid at the end of the month, each day arranging more than a hundredand-one things (holidays, time credit, part-time working…) and - for a lot of HR hands-on people a serious chunk out of their time budget – hopefully maintaining good relations with the trade unions.


Must all that take place? Of course! But don’t think that “human resources” are adequately covered by this. That you are “a people manager”. Therefore, it is a good thing to take just a step aside from time to time and perhaps float a little. Because, who sits too deep in the mud for too long, no longer moves. And then a Stephen R. Covey or a Jim Collins (“From Good to Great”) can do wonders.

Phases If we quickly look at the agenda of the personnel manager and how that has evolved over the past years, then we can distinguish 3 periods. That is important because we see in this way also how for HR the bar is being raised higher all the time. And rightly so. At a first stage the emphasis lay without further to do on remuneration administration and recruitment & selection. In both cases it is about activities with a high degree of technicality but with a strong repetitive

character. It is, therefore, not surprising that this type of activity was rapidly seen to be entrusted to specialized offices. Rightly so, because no company can afford to have a badly functioning remuneration administration and the wrong recruitment costs a lot of money. The need for carried through professionalization, however, resulted in human resources (or whatever it is called) into a more and more technical function, a specialty, something complicated. Employees didn’t see eye to eye with “the personnel services” and whoever had to be there… didn’t usually come on their own initiative. A second important episode started when job descriptions and, in its slipstream, competence management made their entrance. The central phrasing of the question was very clear: what is the fundamental contribution of each function and what do you need for that? Up until the present this input still lives strongly in a lot of organizations, although here and there dissonances resound nevertheless.

Let’s just put things into perspective. There can’t be any objection against concisely describing someone’s contribution (in terms of function or role). However, the condition is that the description satisfies a number of requirements: • it must comment concisely on the added value of the role or function and cannot degenerate in an interminable enumeration of what someone does in one day; • it must be sufficiently recognizable for the individual employee and nevertheless be sufficiently general, i.e., there must be a balance between the more general (abstract) and the concrete; • it must be formulated result-oriented, and not input-oriented; • it contains the competences which are needed to be able to reach the desired result; • the number of job descriptions may, finally, also not be too large, so that it continues to be manageable to adapt them to changing circumstances.

Best of Belgium

207


Without wanting to fall into dogma, I would state that it must be possible to write out such a job description on at the most 1 page front/back. All else is ballast. Such a job description gives the employee a footing: What is my contribution? On what am I being assessed? Which competences do I have to develop? Also the company can give its personnel policy an amount of structure in this way: functions which are described can also be weighed by means of one or another methodology, call it classify, and based on this the link to remuneration can be made easily. A number of functions are also extensions of each other, as a result of which career paths arise. In short, a coherent whole develops on which may be relied. It is backed by methodology. It is well thought-out.

208

Best of Belgium

However, the obverse is, and here the critics really have a point, that people management becomes very mechanical this way. Developing vision could, however, be a competition that is described, to which points are attached, which make your function weigh more heavily and as a result of which, therefore, a higher level of remuneration is reached… but where is the vision, the charisma, where is the soul, the commitment, why does the one leader succeed in leading people and the other not or less? In short, the critics denounce that who continues to remain behind in functions and ditto descriptions misses the essence of people management: how to allow people to grow so that they ensure the success of the company in this way? And thus we end up at the third phase of human resources. Now it is no

longer concerning the technicality or the mechanic but concerning… people. The question which raises itself now, and now we come very close to the subject of many management books, is how and why some organizations manage to be successful and others not? Pay attention, a soul-saving criterion doesn’t exist. But the cocktail of elements which must be available shows nevertheless large points of similarity. And let us start at the top. Each successful organization, more specifically long-term successful, distinguishes itself in having strong leaders. And of course this observation doesn’t only apply to, however important this person may be, the CEO. Detecting potential and developing leadership throughout the organization are today a key concern of the HR manager. Hence, digression, that it is so


important to invest as a company in good employer branding. Attractive companies succeed after all better in attracting attractive candidates. And the chance that you find future leaders in that target group is after all greater than in an average population. Companies which succeed in “cultivating” leaders and in being attractive, belong to the absolute world top. Not only today, but also tomorrow. This input causes a radical shift in the agenda setting of the personnel policy. It no longer concerns tools, techniques or processes. No, it now concerns company culture, about seeing talent develop, about giving people the space and freedom to do their own thing. In short, HR has undergone a fundamental metamorphosis and is - for those who find themselves in this third phase – the beating heart of the organization.

HR: an overall picture of the action territory There exist innumerable models for looking at HR, one already more complicated than the other. Within our own organization we also have developed one for fitting in all our activities and understanding all elements which together form an integrated personnel policy. And actually we, therefore, state the following: people management includes all these elements. Important to the model is that the several components cannot be seen separately from each other. They form a whole and are in continuous interaction with each other! HR Strategy HR also needs a long-term vision. Moreover, this should be aligned with the strategy of the complete organization. HR may not be an island that stands separate from the business. Competence Management To realize that strategy, the organization needs the correct competences. Randstad distinguishes 3 types of competences: generic competences (frequently also called core competences), which are expected of all employees, behavioural competences, which are inherent to the function and job related technical competences which are directly related to the function. Having a proprietary company set of competences is important for all HR processes. Competences come looking around the corner both during recruitment, evaluation and development. Staffing In-, through- and outflow of employees is a daily worry of each HR worker. Having correct people at the correct moment in the correct numbers is, of course, a permanent objective. Important issues in this respect are: how does your organization recruit, how flexible are you with regard to contract types, how do you treat employees who want or must leave the organization, ... Performance Management Formulating objectives for employees or teams is no sinecure. Irrespective whether

defined by individual or at team level, most of them must satisfy a number of criteria: they must be specifically measurable or at least verifiable, feasible and at the same time ambitious. Moreover, and perhaps most important, they must be an extension of the company objectives. By means of correctly formulating objectives the organization can ensure that everybody is on the same page. Reward Research has shown that remuneration is a very important factor to determine the attractiveness of a company. It is also an essential element for motivation of the employees... An important component of the HR happening has been aimed at dealing with this creatively and purposefully. In addition to a fixed remuneration, a company could also build in a variable element and beside the hard euro there still are numerous possibilities for expressing your appreciation. Talent Management The “war on talent” rages in abundance. The competitiveness and the innovative capacity of your organization depend on the degree in which you succeed in attracting talent, developing it further and preserving it. Organization Culture Each company is different, exudes a different atmosphere. It is that company culture that determines which profile is attracted and

which philosophy lies behind the company processes. For HR that organization culture is a key factor. It determines the learning capacity of the organization, its willingness to change, how people are treated. Social Commitment More and more organizations are themselves aware of their specific role in society. Important social trends translate themselves also to internal company processes: how to treat older employees, how seriously is the slogan “work is fun” taken, how is the lamentation by many employees to be able to realize a proper balance between “work life” and “private life” handled, what can diversity mean to you,… ? Conclusion “Because people are important” the people-oriented aspect in organizations will come more and more to the forefront. HR will be shaking off its “soft” image and be wholeheartedly committing to the business. The language of the future HR manager is business oriented, his eyes are focused on the future and his nose is constantly searching for talent. “You have a nose for talent”… a bigger compliment you cannot get as HR manager. Hugo De Vreese Managing Consultant Randstad HR Consulting

Best of Belgium

209


Economy and Industry

Compagnie Gagarine Creative photography agency

210

Best of Belgium


The Compagnie Gagarine photo agency, based in Antwerp, today provides its high quality photographs to the leading national and international media such as Knack, Le Vif Lâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Express, La Libre Belgique, Trends, Che, De Standaard, Geo Magazine, Belga press agency, as well as working for internationally renowned brands, institutions and publishers such as Burberry, eBay, Punch Graphix, VLM Airlines, Adisseo, Europe Real Estate Publishers, Design Flanders, K.U.Leuven University, the Province of Antwerp and DK Travel Guides amongst other Portrait and concert Compagnie Gagarine is acclaimed for its portrait and concert photography. Celebrities covered by the agency in the past include Depeche Mode, Air, Tracy Chapman, Bruce Springsteen, Placebo, Radiohead, Roisin Murphy, Christophe, Indochine, Jane Birkin, Jean Michel Jarre, Jeanne Moreau as well as Belgian bands and personalities like Vive La FĂŞte, Gabriel Rios, Fien Troch, Ozark Henry,

Best of Belgium

211


Bent Van Looy, Jonas Geirnaert, Sven Van Hees, Sarah Bettens, Daan, Arno, Neon Judgement, Wim Mertens, Axelle Red and Hooverphonic. Architecture and travel Equally important, however, is the agencyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s architecture and travel photography, realising editorial and creative images in Belgium for travel guides, architects, designers and publishers, as well as travelling throughout Europe (France, Holland, Italy, Greece, Spain, England, Switzerland and Germany) to return with artistic impressions of those regions, its people, nature and architecture. Christophe Ketels Compagnie Gagarineâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s founder, Christophe Ketels, is the main photographer at the agency. What drives him is originality, the consistent attempt to photograph subjects from an original point of view, whether it is a building, monument, a person or concert. Photography for Ketels is a constant search for that particular angle and light which no one has found before, or which no one has wanted to try before. It means leaving the normal conventional path and trying something unusual in order to allow emotion and amazement to take over. Perspectives that go far beyond the traditional images, as well as bringing details and objects to our attention which most of us would never have noticed. Just like the astronaut Youri Gagarin was the first man in space, where no man had gone before and what many

212

Best of Belgium


people at the time found a utopia. Ketels’ work is a search for perfection and its originality has become his landmark and style as a photographer, a visual identity. His photographic adventure is lasting over a decade, and results in a diversity of personal impressions, unique on the European continent. Ever since its creation, Compagnie Gagarine has constantly updated its equipment with

the photographic industry’s top brands. 2008 sees the agency making its largest new investments thus far, bringing the company to a next level with the most superior digital and analogue photographic material, yet again to bring the agency a step closer to perfection and being able to offer the highest quality photography. Enjoy several images of main photographer Christophe Ketels throughout this book, and have a look at the website www.compagniegagarine.com.

Compagnie Gagarine Apollostraat 161/1 – 2600 Berchem Tel: 03 297 36 18 0472 / 47 95 28 E-mail: info@compagniegagarine.com www.compagniegagarine.com

Best of Belgium

213


Index Agoria Automotive

160 – 161

Antwerp International School

136 – 137

Antwerp World Diamond Centre

40-41

B-Apparthotels

90 – 91

Barry Callebaut

70 – 71

BBCW Best Belgian Chocolate of the World

66 – 67

Belberry Preserves Belchim Crop Protection Belgacom Memorial Van Damme

62-63 198-199 117

Bocconi Ristoranti Italiano

104-105

Boeckmans Shipping & Forwarding

182-183

Brasserie Pakhuis

106-107

Brussels Enterprise Commerce Industry

170-171

Brussels Export

190

City of Antwerp

38 – 39

Cock’s Fresh / Cock’s Vleeswaren Compagnie Gagarine Conrad Brussels

76-77-78-79 210-211-212-213 84-85

Creamoda

130-131

DEME

194-195

Diamond Museum in Antwerp Duc d’O Chocolaterie

44 – 45 72-73

Essenscia

158-159

Federation of Belgian Enterprises

156-157

Fedustria

164-165

Fevia

162-163

Flanders Fashion Institute

124-125

Flanders Investment & Trade

188-189

Flemish Institute for Logistics

176-177

Gazet Van Antwerpen Cyclo-cross Trophy Ghent International Film Festival Godiva

114 28 – 29 68-69

Gosselin Group

178-179

Hansen Transmissions

202-203

214

Best of Belgium


Healthcare Belgium HealthCity HRD Huis de Colvenier

140-141-142-143-144-145 118-119 42 – 43 102-103

ING Antwerp 10 Miles and Marathon

115

Jules Destrooper

64-65

Kasteel Coninxdonck

92-93

Kasteel van Lebbeke

94-95

L’Albon Chambon

98-99

L&A Jewellery

52-53

La Butte aux Bois

96-97

Les Bijoux de Marie-France

56-57

Meevida

46 – 47

Metropole Hotel

86-87

Modo Bruxellae

122-123

Museum Brasserie

100-101

Muziektheater Transparant

34 – 35

National Bank of Belgium

150-151

Nordic Fire / Crisdiam

48 – 49

Park Plaza Astrid Antwerp

88-89

Pinchasi & Sons

50-51

Pralibel

74-75

Queen Elisabeth International Music Competition of Belgium Randstad ROSAS

30 – 31 204-205-206-207-208-209 32 – 33

Stûv

166-167

The Stage Dinner Theatre

108-109

Tour of Belgium University of Leuven Verbruggen Diamonds & Pearls Vitalo Group

116 134-135 54-55 200-201

Wallonia Foreign Trade & Investment Agency Westerlund Group

191 180-181

Best of Belgium

215

BEST OF BELGIUM - Volume 2  
BEST OF BELGIUM - Volume 2  

Belgium has a vibrant, stable and diversified economy with growth rates consistently above the European average, strong corporate investment...