This is first of all a success story the European way. It all starts in 2003 when Jourdan Serderidis, a Greek entrepreneur who has made his career in Belgium, founds Arηs in Luxembourg. he name chosen by the young forty-year-old looks promising: Arηs, pronounced [aris], is the son of Zeus and the God of War in Greek mythology. To lead his company into the software market, he assembles a (small) army of thirteen employees.
Eighteen years have passed and, it has to be said, the promise of the early days has been fulfilled. Arηs has won so many battles that today it is growing by 20% a year and has… 2,000 employees.
Being somewhat cramped in its historical premises, Jourdan Serderidis decides to move. And this is where AGORA comes in. The boss of Arηs will choose Belval. And build a stylish state-of-the-art building on the former steelworks site.
Two years after opening, in September 2019, he is still delighted with this choice.
Can we first of all introduce your company?
Yes, absolutely. So I founded Arηs in 2003 in Luxembourg. It is a company specialising in the development of customised software for large accounts. Our clients are for example banks, institutions or public authorities.
You moved to Belval in 2019. Why?
We were previously based in Bertrange but we were beginning to feel cramped… you see Arηs is growing by 20% a year Today the company has 14 entities and almost 2,000 employees. So, five or six years ago, we started looking for a suitable location for our new headquarters. Belval quickly became the obvious choice.
Why were you convinced by Belval?
The site has many strengths. Firstly, its position. We did not want to be in the city centre, in Luxembourg, for reasons of mobility, price per m and density. Here, in Belval, we are close to the capital, yet next door to France (where 20% of our employees come from) and Belgium, all in pleasant surroundings. Another argument: being able, thanks to AGORA, to construct a building that looks like us. In fact we wanted a headquarters that was both comfortable for our employees and remarkable for our clients.
Was the history of the site a factor?
I immediately fell for this post-industrial landscape. I find that Belval’s past gives it a lot of character and distinguishes it from the usual soulless, unattractive business parks. And then, here beyond the industrial setting, there is the view: our offices look out onto the green, rolling French countryside, full of forests. It’s beautiful and relaxing. Whereas in the town centre, we would have a view of… the building next door.
So in 2019 the Naos building rose up… Can you tell us about its birth?
When we decided on Belval, AGORA offered us several options. Either construct a pre-designed building or adopt a building that was still under consideration, to which we could add our own personal touch. We chose this second option. The aim was, with the architect, to customise the preliminary project to better adapt our future headquarters. This is how Naos, which means temple Greek, came about.
In concrete terms, what were you able to adapt?
A lot of things. Firstly, the visual identity of the building, since we chose a new colour for the façade, with an elegant combination of black and blue. On the underground infrastructure side, it was possible to add a parking floor (three instead of two, to give a total of 155 spaces). As for the interior design, it was adapted to our needs. For example, was asked for a 300-seat auditorium and we were even able to start, on the ground floor, a restaurant that turns into a wine bar in the evening. It opened in June 2021.
In short, when it comes to real estate, it is as if nothing is impossible in Belval…
That’s true. In fact, we had not initially planned such a venture: we arrived needing 5,000 m2 and we finally came up with a joint development of a 14,000 m2 building, on 8 floors, with a restaurant seating 120, open to all… Note that all this was made possible thanks to AGORA and the municipality of Sanem. Both of them really welcomed us and were great facilitators. There was an instant rapport.
In view of this positive result, are you thinking of starting all over again in Belval?
Absolutely. After selling the Naos building to an insurance consortium in 2018 (we are now tenants), we are looking for a site for a new building to accommodate our growing workforce. I would like to see this done within three years.
“REGARDS CROISES” is series proposed by AGORA with the aim to tell the story of a project since its birth.
Discover all the articles of this series by clicking on the tag below.