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“Through much of the year, the Covid-19 pandemic has presented unprecedented challenges and I would like to thank our staff for the tremendous effort and commitment demonstrated over recent months, allowing the business to react positively to the Covid-19 crisis. As we navigate through the current Covid-19 restrictions, I am confident that the business will continue to respond well to the challenge.

Despite the pandemic, the Group’s business model demonstrated its resilience resulting in another strong performance for the year. All geographies have performed well and the UK business has shown particularly pleasing momentum, growing like-for-like occupancy by 4.2ppts to 81.0% at the end of the year.

The Group has also made significant strategic progress during the year successfully expanding into three new countries in the last 18 months. After last year’s acquisition of M3 in the Netherlands, through our joint venture1 with Carlyle, the Group entered the Spanish market with the acquisition of four stores in Barcelona early in the year2. This was followed by entry into the Belgian market with the acquisition of six stores, also through our joint venture with Carlyle. All new geographies are currently performing ahead of their business plans. The acquisition of Fort Box2 brought another two London stores into the portfolio and, further to our successful openings this year in Carshalton, Gateshead and Sheffield, we plan to open new stores in Birmingham-Middleway and Paris Magenta during the 2020/21 financial year.

We believe the resilient characteristics of the self storage industry, together with our leading market positions across the UK and Paris, place the business in a strong position to withstand the economic uncertainty arising from Covid-19. Safestore’s increasing scale allows us to invest in our digital marketing platforms and service proposition, and this remains a key competitive advantage in a fragmented industry.

Our efficient balance sheet remains strong, with a low cost of debt, £148 million of available bank facilities, significant covenant headroom and no imminent refinancing required. This financing capacity, combined with the strong free cash generation of the business, allows us to continue to target selected development and acquisition opportunities.

Since 2013, we have added 19.5ppts of occupancy to the 113 stores still in the Group today, which now have an occupancy of 82.6% (an average increase of 2.8ppts per annum). Over that period the same stores have grown average rate by 13.6% (a CAGR of 1.8% per annum).

Despite ending the year with record levels of occupancy, the business still has 1.4 million square feet of currently unlet space in our existing fully invested estate, representing a significant organic growth opportunity. Our leading market positions in the UK and Paris, in addition to our presence in Spain and, through our joint venture, in Netherlands and Belgium, combined with our balance sheet strength and resilient business model, leave us well positioned for the future.

Pleasingly, the strong performance of the final quarter has continued into the first two months of the new financial year. Whilst acknowledging the potential for disruption arising from current Covid restrictions, the inherent resilience of our business model as well as our recent and current trading allow me to look forward with confidence to the 2020/21 financial year.” 
Frederic Vecchioli, Safestore's Chief Executive Officer

 

 

Overview - Chairman's Statement

Covid-19
 A large part of the last year has involved dealing with the unprecedented challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic. Our priority throughout the crisis has been, and will continue to be, the safety and wellbeing of our staff and customers. The Group has taken measures to make our stores and Head Office Covid-secure, equipping them with Perspex screens, visors, face masks, hand sanitiser and ensuring social distancing measures are implemented. 
 
After a year in the role, I continue to be impressed by the passion, enthusiasm and knowledge of the store and Head Office teams. In addition, the last year has demonstrated a commitment and resilience that has enabled the continued operation of the stores throughout the crisis and which has delivered such a robust set of results.
 
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all my colleagues throughout the Group for their exceptional contributions this year.
 
Financial and Strategic Progress
The challenges of the last year have demonstrated the resilience of the business model at Safestore and I am delighted to announce, on behalf of the Board of the Group, a strong set of results for the year ended 31 October 2020.
 
Our purpose remains simple, to continue to add stakeholder value by developing profitable and sustainable spaces that allow individuals, businesses and local communities to thrive. Our strategy is underpinned by our values, our behaviours and our governance structure which shape our culture and remain central to the way we conduct our business.
 
Over the past year the Group has continued to make strategic progress. The Group has now opened fifteen stores over the last five years and all are performing well. Fort Box Self Storage and OMB in Barcelona, acquired in November 2019 and December 2019 respectively, have been fully integrated into the business and we currently have two additional new sites opening over the next twelve months.
 
Management’s first priority remains to maximise the economic return on our existing store portfolio and its 1.4m sq ft of fully invested unlet space, building on the operational improvements made over the previous six years.
Our joint venture1 with Carlyle and our OMB acquisition in Barcelona provide us with exciting platforms for entering into new attractive geographies. Lokabox in Belgium, acquired by the joint venture1 with Carlyle, is performing strongly and complements the joint venture’s previous acquisition of M3 in the Netherlands. Safestore’s highly scalable platform will allow us to take advantage of further opportunities in due course.
 
Corporate and social responsibility (“CSR”) remains important to Safestore’s business processes and operations. Our CSR agenda developed significantly in the year and is covered in the “Sustainability” section of our Annual Report. I believe the Group has made significant progress in this area, illustrated by a GRESB “A” rating to go alongside the EPRA Silver and Most Improved Awards for the 2019 disclosures.
 
This year’s performance comes on the back of a sustained period of excellent performance by the company. Over the last seven years, the management and store teams have delivered a Total Shareholder Return of 661.3%, ranking at number one in the property sector. Since flotation in 2007, Safestore has also delivered the highest Total Shareholder Return of any UK listed self storage operator.


1 – The joint venture with Carlyle, which represents a 20% investment, has been accounted for as an associate using the equity method of accounting, as described in the “Investment in associates” note to the financial statements.
2 – The consideration paid for OMB on 30 December 2019 was £14.3 million net of cash acquired plus costs of approximately £0.3 million and for Fort Box Self Storage on 5 November 2019 was £13.6 million plus costs of approximately £0.7 million, both net of cash acquired and both are subject to customary working capital adjustment.


 
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