No longer just a place to store your old Christmas decorations, large self-storage centres have now become common sights across the UK.
From near non-existence thirty years ago, the British self-storage business is now the biggest in Europe, with the industry yielding an annual revenue of around £500m. While some have pointed to an increasing materialistic culture amongst a new generation, others have noted that the nature of the current property market means that many Brits simply have less space than previous generations did. The average large family’s home built in 1920 had 3,440 square foot (sq. ft.) of floor space compared to 2,409 sq. ft. now. A typical semi-detached property built in the same time frame had 1,647 sq. ft. compared to 925 sq. ft. now while a terraced home has almost halved in size, going from 1020 sq. ft. to 645 sq. ft.
Despite fears that the introduction of VAT across the industry would impact profitability, the most recent numbers from the UK Self-Storage Association found providers fared far better than previously predicted. 79% of respondents expected an improvement in profits, while 87% were confident they would continue to rise. The report found that because only 38% of the adult population knows “at least a reasonable amount about self-storage services,” the industry had potential for even more growth. Around 60% of space rented was from private customers, while the other 40% was taken by businesses.
New Business Opportunities
Self-storage facilities have commonly been used by businesses in the past to archive documents or excess stock. However, with the advent of the internet, many online retailers have been drawn to the emerging business and certain providers, such as Safestore, have even started offering office space and Wi-Fi so that those looking to become their own boss can run their company from the facility. This has become particularly popular in urban environments like the capital, where property and renting prices have become too high for new entrepreneurs trying to get a foothold in their industry.
Self-storage providers aim to offer flexible monthly contracts that allow users to upsize or downsize as they need to, which is particularly important for companies that see sales peak during certain months. Facilities are also able to sign for deliveries as well as offer 24-hour CCTV surveillance, break-in alarms, and protection against fires. Many of the facilities offer 24-hour access, too, giving business owners unlimited access to their stock.