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September 2020

Lille, inside Europe’s Retail Valley 3/3

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Les Hauts-de-France: a region that is constantly evolving


In France, and specifically in the Lille area, business has already experienced numerous crises and the Covid-19 crisis raises numerous questions.

The 1960s saw the textile industry enter into a period of deep crisis related to modernizing output and competition from emerging economies. Since then, that sector has reinvented itself and experienced innovation like La Redoute has done by weathering the end of catalog sales and very successfully switching over to a digital landscape. The Centre Européen des Textiles Innovants (CETI) based in Tourcoing can also tell a similar story.

Retailers located in the North have long been known for their resilience. Resilience is recognized in psychology and management theory as the capacity and ability of an individual, or system, to overcome adversity. In other words, resilience means surviving and striving to prevail over risk and persist in the face of failure and trauma. Experts see resilience as a crucial and necessary prerequisite for emerging from crisis and a key quality in business.

Carte Accessibilité LilleMichel Koch, Director of the Institute du Connected Commerce, considers the North a “retail valley” that remains a strategic choice for the future location of businesses.

The city of Lille leads France in telecommuting rates and it’s less expensive than Paris. The consumer market in the Lille area is one of the most attractive in Europe with a potential 80 billion euros on the table within a 300-kilometer radius.

At a time when employee mobility has been called into question, the region seems to be the perfect compromise between several destinations. Javier Abaroa, in charge of Flying Tiger Copenhagen’s presence in the Northern France, remembers why he made the decision to locate the company in the Lille region. “Our priority was access to Paris, the rest of France and Europe, and then the benefits of a being in a strategic location between the important commercial centers of London and Brussels.”

The North is marked by resilience, mobility and innovation; the Hauts-De-France region will be on the forefront of the transformation needed to emerge from the current crisis. It’s a European laboratory for retail that knows how to mobilize traditional players who are able to reinvent themselves as well as new players who have risen to the fore as result of Covid-19.

This synergy and the propensity to come together during times of crisis has allowed the North to take its place as a leader in transforming the world of retail post Covid-19.


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