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The enduring appeal of Northern France

29 Oct 2014 | A region on the move

In a study commissioned by Nord France Invest, KPMG updated its 2011 data on the region's appeal for foreign multinationals, interviewing executives at 100 of a total 762 subsidiaries with over ten employees.*

Why they came


Three-quarters of the businesses surveyed came to Northern France primarily to boost sales and win new markets. Companies in production and construction also cited increased capacity (20% of respondents) and/or a need for specific skills (16%).


In the abstract, respondents named location (79%), the local economy (54%) and a strong labor pool (53%) as the top reasons to choose one region over another, but 94% said they had chosen Northern France because of its location. 

What they say about Northern France today

A great place to live and work

89% of respondents describe their image of Northern France as satisfactory or even very satisfactory, though 26% had a poor image when they arrived. But once here, even skeptical respondents discovered that the reality was different, and the hospitality, friendliness and strong work ethic of the local community erased the negative stereotype of a dreary rust belt with cold, inclement weather.

Strong infrastructures

72% view the region’s infrastructures as an asset. Northern France gains from its own sea, air and land infrastructure—in particular excellent road, rail and mass transit networks—as well as that of major cities nearby, including airports serving Paris and Brussels and ports in Antwerp and Rotterdam.

Impressive labor pool

Northern France won high marks for the commitment, productivity and quality of local workers: 62% of respondents described themselves as satisfied or very satisfied with the regional labor pool. 

The bottom line


Respondents saw Northern France as marked by two strong values: friendliness (42%) and hard work (38%). They frequently mentioned its hospitality, friendliness and good quality of life together with its resilient, committed, hard-working people, noting that their friendliness brought a powerful, much-appreciated human touch to their strong work ethic.


88% of respondents would advise another corporation to set up a subsidiary in the region, and 17% said they had already recommended Northern France to others.

Download the study (in French)



Study results based on interviews with 100 of the 762 subsidiaries of foreign corporations with over 10 employees doing business in the region. Respondents were chosen using quota sampling, based on two criteria: site location and parent company’s nationality. Interviews were conducted between March and June 2014. 

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