The self storage market has been growing consistently for over 20 years across many European countries but few regions offer the unique characteristics of London and Paris, both of which consist of large, wealthy and densely populated markets. In the London region, the population is 13 million inhabitants with a density of 5,200 inhabitants per square mile, 11,000 per square mile in Central London and up to 32,000 per square mile in the densest boroughs.

The population of the Paris urban area is 10.7 million inhabitants with a density of 9,300 inhabitants per square mile in the urban area but 54,000 per square mile in the City of Paris and first belt, where 69% of our French stores are located and which has one of the highest population densities in the western world. 85% of the Paris region population live in central parts of the city versus the rest of the urban area, which compares with 60% in the London region. There are currently c. 245 storage centres within the M25 as compared to only c. 122 in the Paris urban area.

In addition, barriers to entry in these two important city markets are high, due to land values and limited availability of sites as well as planning regulation. This is the case for Paris and its first belt in particular, which inhibits new development possibilities.

Over the last four years the Group has expanded into further attractive, under-penetrated markets in Spain, the Netherlands and Belgium with a focus on the conurbations of Barcelona, Madrid, the Randstad area and Brussels.

As at 31 October 2023, 97% of our Group Revenue, 94% of our stores and 95% of our available capacity are in London, Paris, South East England, major UK cities, Spain, Amsterdam and the Randstad area and Brussels. These major population areas deliver 97% of the Group’s store EBITDA from 95% of our MLA, highlighting the attractiveness of being present in these major cities and conurbations. The current pipeline includes 30 further developments in these areas which will increase the number of stores to 95% of our portfolio.

 Owned Store Portfolio by Region UK France Spain Netherlands Belgium Group Total
 Number of stores 133 29 11 11 6 190
 Let Square Feet (m sq ft) 4.472 1.107 0.135 0.352 0.164 6.231
 Maximum Lettable Area (m sq ft) 5.730 1.360 0.340 0.440 0.220 8.090
 Average Let Square Feet per store (k sq ft) 34 38 12 32 27 33
 Average Store Capacity (k sq ft) 43 47 31 40 37 43
 Closing Occupancy % 78.1% 81.3% 39.5% 80.7% 74.1% 77.0%
 Average Rate (£ per sq ft) 30.25 36.59 28.82 16.20 18.67 30.26
 Revenue (£'m) 166.5 43.9 3.8 6.4 3.6 224.2
 Average Revenue per Store (£'m) 1.25 1.51 0.35 0.58 0.60 1.18

The reported totals have not been adjusted for the impact of rounding

We have a strong position in both the UK and Paris markets, operating 133 stores in the UK, 73 of which are in London and the South East, and 29 stores in Paris.

In the UK, 63% of our revenue is generated by our stores in London and the South East. On average, our stores in London and the South East are smaller than in the rest of the UK but the rental rates achieved are materially higher, enabling these stores to typically achieve similar or better margins than the larger stores. In London we operate 50 stores within the M25, more than any other competitor.

In France, we have a leading position in the heart of the affluent City of Paris market with ten stores branded as Une Pièce en Plus (“UPP”) (“A spare room”). Over 60% of the UPP stores are located in a cluster within a five-mile radius of the city centre, which facilitates strong operational and marketing synergies as well as options to differentiate and channel customers to the right store subject to their preference for convenience or price affordability. The Parisian market has attractive socio-demographic characteristics for self storage and we believe that UPP enjoys unique strategic strength in such an attractive market.

In Spain the Group has eleven stores open in Barcelona and Madrid with a further five stores in the pipeline in these two cities and in Pamplona in the Basque Country, a region with a dynamic and healthy economy.

In the Benelux Region the Group has eleven stores open in the Netherlands and six in Belgium. The pipeline contains a further four stores in the Netherlands and one in Belgium.

In addition, Safestore has the benefit of a leading national presence in the UK outside of London where the stores are predominantly located in the centre of key metropolitan areas such as Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Bristol, Newcastle, Glasgow and Edinburgh.


The self storage market in the UK, France, Spain, the Netherlands and Belgium remains relatively immature compared to geographies such as the USA and Australia. The SSA Annual Survey (May 2023) confirmed that self storage capacity stands at 0.82 sq ft per head of population in the UK. The most recent report relating to Europe (FEDESSA’s 2023 report) showed that capacity in France is 0.35 sq ft per capita. Whilst the Paris market density is greater than France, we estimate it to be significantly lower than the UK at around 0.4 sq ft per inhabitant. This compares with closer to 10 sq ft per inhabitant in the USA and 2 sq ft in Australia. In the UK, in order to reach the US density of supply, it would require the addition of around another 17,000 stores as compared to c. 1,500 currently. In the Paris region, it would require around 2,400 new facilities versus c. 122 currently opened.

In Spain, the Netherlands and Belgium, geographies the Group has recently entered, penetration is similarly low. In Spain capacity is around 0.32 sq ft per head of population and the consumer is serviced by just 585 stores. In the Netherlands penetration is 0.50 sq ft per head of population (320 stores) and in Belgium 0.20 sq ft per head of population (96 stores).

The Group recently entered a JV with Carlyle in Germany. The German market is one of Europe’s more under-penetrated markets with just 0.21 sq ft of storage space per capita and, according to the 2023 FEDESSA report, there are just 530 facilities in the country and 17.4 million sq ft of lettable space.
Our interpretation of the most recent 2023 SSA report is that operators remain optimistic about expansion and the future growth of the industry. The level of development estimated for the next three years is similar to that witnessed in recent years and we do not consider this level of new supply growth to be of concern, especially as we believe new supply helps to create increased awareness of what is a relatively immature product on Europe.  We estimate new supply to represent around 2% to 3% of the traditional self storage industry in the UK. These figures represent gross openings and do not consider storage facilities closing or being converted for alternative uses. We estimate that a small proportion of these sites compete with existing Safestore stores.

New supply in London and Paris is likely to continue to be limited in the short and medium term as a result of planning restrictions, competition from a variety of other uses and the availability of suitable land.

The supply in the UK market, according to the SSA Survey, remains relatively fragmented despite a number of acquisitions in the sector in recent years. The SSA’s estimates of the scale of the UK industry are finessed each year and changes from one year to the next represent improved data in addition to new supply. In the 2023 report the SSA estimates that 2,231 self storage facilities exist in the UK market including around 739 container-based operations. At the point in time that the 2023 survey was written, Safestore is the industry leader by number of stores with 129 wholly owned sites followed by Big Yellow with 108 stores (including Armadillo), Access with 60 stores, Shurgard with 41 stores, Lok’n Store with 40 stores, Storage King with 38 stores and Ready Steady Store with 27 stores. In aggregate, the top seven leading operators account for around 20% of the UK store portfolio. The remaining c. 1,780 self storage outlets (including 739 container-based operations) are independently owned in small chains or single units. In total there are 1,086 storage brands operating in the UK.

Safestore’s French business, UPP, is mainly present in the core wealthier and more densely populated inner Paris and first belt areas, whereas our two main competitors, Shurgard and Homebox, have a greater presence in the outskirts and second belt of Paris.

Our Spanish business currently operates in Barcelona and Madrid. The metropolitan areas of Barcelona and Madrid have combined growing high-density populations of twelve million inhabitants and significant barriers to entry.

Our focus in the Netherlands market is on the densely populated Amsterdam and Randstad conurbations. The Netherlands is the second most developed self storage market in Europe (after the UK) but still remains under-penetrated with approximately 320 stores and 0.50 sq ft per capita of storage space.

Belgium is one of the more under-penetrated markets in Europe with just 96 stores and 0.20 sq ft per capita of self storage space. In Belgium our presence is focused on Brussels and the significant urban conurbations of Liege, Charleroi and Nivelles.

Consumer awareness of self storage appears to be increasing but at a relatively slow rate, providing an opportunity for future industry growth. The SSA survey indicates that approximately half of consumers have low awareness about the service offered by self storage operators or had not heard of self storage at all. Since 2014, this statistic has only fallen 6ppts from 62%. Therefore, the opportunity to grow awareness, combined with limited new industry supply, makes for an attractive industry backdrop.

Self storage is a brand-blind product. 66% of respondents were unable to name a self storage business in their local area (64% in 2022). The lack of relevance of brand in the process of purchasing a self storage product emphasises the need for operators to have a strong online presence. This requirement for a strong online presence was also reiterated by the SSA Survey where 76% of those surveyed (73% in 2022) confirmed that an internet search would be their chosen means of finding a self storage unit to contact, whilst knowledge of a physical location of a store as reason for enquiry was only c. 30% of respondents (c. 26% in 2022).

There are numerous drivers of self storage growth. Most private and business customers need storage either temporarily or permanently for different reasons at any point in the economic cycle, resulting in a market depth that is, in our view, the reason for its exceptional resilience. The growth of the market is driven both by the fluctuation of economic conditions, which has an impact on the mix of demand, and by growing awareness of the product.

Safestore’s domestic customers’ need for storage is often driven by life events such as births, marriages, bereavements, divorces or by the housing market including house moves and developments and moves between rental properties. Safestore has estimated that UK owner-occupied housing transactions drive around 8-13% of the Group’s new lets.

The Group’s business customer base includes a range of businesses from start-up online retailers through to multi-national corporates utilising our national coverage to store in multiple locations while maintaining flexibility in their cost base.
 Business and Personal Customers Group UK Paris Spain Benelux
 Personal Customers 133 29 11 11 6
     Numbers (% of total) 79% 77% 81% 90% 84%
     Square feet occupied (% of total) 61% 58% 64% 84% 76%
     Average Length of Stay (months) 20.9 17.5 26.7 23.2 30.9
 Business Customers 78.1% 81.3% 80.7% 74.1% 77.0%
     Numbers (% of total) 21% 23% 19% 10% 16%
     Square feet occupied (% of total) 39% 42% 36% 16% 24%
     Average Length of Stay (months) 26.7 25.7 28.2 27.0 31.5

Safestore’s customer base is resilient and diverse and consists of around 90,000 domestic, business and National Accounts customers across London, Paris, Spain, major UK cities, the Netherlands and Belgium.

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