The Group intends to continue to deliver on its proven strategy of leveraging its well-located asset base, management expertise, infrastructure, scale and balance sheet strength and further increase its Earnings per Share by:

  • optimising the trading performance of the existing portfolio;
  • maintaining a strong and flexible capital structure; and
  • taking advantage of selective portfolio management and expansion opportunities in our existing markets and, if appropriate, in attractive new geographies either through a joint venture or in our own right.

In addition, the Group’s strategy is pursued whilst maintaining a strong focus on Environmental, Social and Governance (“ESG”) matters and a summary of our ESG strategy is provided further below.

Optimisation of Existing Portfolio

With the opening of 31 new stores since August 2016 in addition to the acquisitions of 47 existing trading stores we have established and strengthened our market-leading portfolio in the UK and Paris and have entered the Spanish, Netherlands and Belgium markets. We have a high quality, fully invested estate in all geographies and, of our 190 stores as at 31 October 2023, 102 are in London and the South East of England or in Paris, with 60 in the other major UK cities and 28 in Barcelona and the Benelux region. In the UK, we now operate 50 stores within the M25, which represents a higher number of stores than any other competitor.

Our MLA1 has increased to 8.1 million sq ft at 31 October 2023 (FY2022: 7.7 million sq ft). At the current occupancy level of 77% we have 1.9 million sq ft of fully invested unoccupied space (3.4 million sq ft including the development pipeline), of which 1.2 million sq ft is in our UK stores, 0.2 million sq ft is in Paris and 0.5 million sq ft is in Barcelona and Benelux. In total, unlet space at our existing stores is the equivalent of c. 47 empty stores located across the estate and provides the Group with significant opportunity to grow further. We have a proven track record of filling our vacant space so we view this availability of space with considerable optimism. We will also benefit from operational leverage from the fact that this available space is fully invested and the related operating costs are essentially fixed and already included in the Group cost base. Our continued focus will be on ensuring that we drive occupancy to utilise this capacity at carefully managed rates. Between the full financial years 2013 and 2023, occupancy of the stores in the portfolio in 2013 that remain in the Group today has increased from 63.1% to 80.7%, i.e. an average of 1.8ppts per year and equivalent to a total of 0.9 million sq ft.
One of the key measures of operational success for a self storage asset is the Revenue per available foot (REVPAF) and Safestore’s priority will remain to maximise its leading REVPAF with a sustainable combination of occupancy and rate. Between the full financial years 2013 and 2023, the company’s REVPAF has maintained industry leading levels increasing 46.5% for the Group, 66.4% for the UK (60.5% for London and the South East; and 84.2% for regional UK) and 32.1% for Paris.
There are three elements that are critical to the optimisation of our existing portfolio.

  • enquiry generation through an effective and efficient marketing operation
  • strong conversion of enquiries into new lets; and
  • disciplined central revenue management and cost control.
Digital marketing expertise – UK Number 1 Self Storage Brand
Awareness of self storage remains relatively low with half of the UK population either knowing very little or nothing about the product (source: SSA Annual Report 2023). In the UK, many of our new customers are using self storage for the first time and it is largely a brand-blind purchase. Typically, customers requiring storage start their journey by conducting online research using generic keywords in their locality (e.g., “storage in Borehamwood”, “self storage near me”) which means that geographic coverage and search engine prominence remain key competitive advantages.
We believe there is a clear benefit of scale in digital capability in the generation of customer enquiries. The Group has continued to invest in technology and in-house expertise which has resulted in the development of a leading digital marketing platform that has generated 43% enquiry growth for the Group over the last five years, an annual growth of over 7%. Our in-house expertise and significant annual budget have enabled us to deliver strong results. Safestore is the UK number 1 self storage brand as it has more new lets per year than any other brand.
Online marketing remains the predominant channel for customer acquisition. Online enquiries made up 89% of all our enquiries in the UK (FY2022: 90%), with 84% in France (FY2022: 85%). The majority of our online enquiries now originate from a mobile device highlighting the need for continual investment in our responsive web platform for a “mobile-first” world. We continue to invest in activities that promote a strong search engine presence to grow enquiry volume whilst managing efficiency in terms of overall cost per enquiry and cost per new let. Group marketing costs for the full year as a percentage of revenue were broadly in line with the previous year at 3.8% (FY2022: 3.6%).
During 2023, the Group demonstrated its ability to integrate newly developed and acquired stores into its marketing platform with successful new openings in the UK (Morden, Wigan, Ellesmere Port), Spain (Barcelona, Madrid) and the Netherlands (Apeldoorn, Amersfoort). We have clearly demonstrated that our marketing platform is transferrable into multiple overseas geographies.
Motivated and effective store teams benefiting from improved training and development

Training, People and Performance Management
Our enthusiastic, well-trained, and customer-centric sales team remains a key differentiator and a strength of our business. Understanding the needs of our customers and using this knowledge to develop trusted in-store advisors is a fundamental part of driving revenue growth and market share.

Safestore has been an Investors in People (“IIP”) accredited organisation since 2003 and we passionately believe that our continued success is dependent on our highly motivated and well-trained colleagues. Following the award of a Bronze accreditation in 2015 and a Gold accreditation in 2018, we were delighted to be awarded the “we invest in people” Platinum accreditation in February 2021.  This is the highest accolade in the Investors in People scale and positions us as an employer of choice. Shortly after our Platinum accreditation, we were shortlisted for the Platinum Employer of the Year (250+) category in the Investors in People Awards 2021. This further endorses the high standard of our teams and the people development programmes that drive our skill and talent retention.

We are committed to growing and rewarding our people and we tailor our development, reward and recognition programmes to reflect this. Our IIP recognised coaching programme, launched in 2018 and upgraded every year since, continues to be a driving force behind the continuous performance improvement demonstrated by our store colleagues.

Our online learning portal, combined with the energy and flexibility of our store colleagues, allows us to not only continue to deliver our award-winning development programmes but also to capitalise on the strength of our IT platforms. We have been able to combine our technology communication skills with our tried and tested face-to-face training sessions in a newly created “impact” sales refresher.

We have always aimed to recognise the changing needs and demands of our customers. Combining new, along with tried and tested, solutions and systems, we are further able to support our store colleagues, allowing them to fulfil the needs of our customers over and above that of our competitors. Our flexible contract types and enhanced digital contract completion further enhance our customer offer and experience.

All new recruits to the business benefit from enhanced induction and training tools that have been developed in-house and enable us to quickly identify high-potential individuals and increase their speed to competency. They receive individual performance targets within four weeks of joining the business and are placed on the “pay-for-skills” programme that allows accelerated basic pay increases dependent on success in demonstrating specific and defined skills. The key target of our programme remains that we grow our talent through our Store Manager Development programme, and we are pleased with our progress to date.

Our internal Store Manager Development programme has been in place since 2016 and is a key part of succession planning for future Store Managers. Funded by the Apprenticeship Levy this programme provides the opportunity to complete a Level 3 Management and Leadership apprenticeship, with the additional opportunity to complete an Institute of Leadership and Management (“ILM”) qualification. In 2023, of the eleven delegates who successfully completed the program ten of them did so with distinction. 

Our Store Manager Development programme demonstrates the effectiveness of our learning tools. In a spirit of constant improvement, our content and delivery process is dynamically enhanced through our 360-degree feedback process utilising the learnings from not only the candidates but also from our training Store Managers and senior business leaders. This allows our people to be trained with the knowledge and skills to sell effectively in today’s marketplace.

Further development opportunities are available through our Senior Manager Development programme (“LEAD”) focusing on developing our high performing store managers. This program is aimed at preparing candidates for more senior roles within the business in addition to attaining a Level 5 Management and Leadership apprenticeship. The relaunch of our graduate program, in October 2022, provides an opportunity for newly qualified graduates to build their skillset and experience resulting in a career with Safestore.

Our performance dashboard allows our store and field teams to focus on the key operating metrics of the business providing an appropriate level of management information to enable swift decision making. Reporting performance down to individual colleague level enhances our competitive approach to team and individual performance. We continue to reward our people for their performance with bonuses of up to 50% of basic salary based on their achievements against individual targets for new lets, occupancy, and ancillary sales. In addition, our Values and Behaviours framework is overlaid on individuals’ performance in order to assess performance and development needs on a quarterly basis.

Our “Make the Difference” people forum, launched in 2018, which is a formal workplace advisory panel, enables frequent opportunities for us to hear and respond to our colleagues. Our network of 15 “People Champions” collect questions and feedback from their peers across the business and put them to members of the Executive Committee. We drive change and continuous improvement in responding to the feedback we receive for “Our Business, Our Customers and Our Colleagues”.

People Champions:
  • consult and collect the views and suggestions of all colleagues that they represent;
  • engage in the bi-annual “Make the Difference” people forum, raising and representing the views of their colleagues; and
  • consult with and discuss feedback with management and the leadership team at Safestore.
​Our values are authentic, having been created by our people. They are core to the employment life cycle and bring consistency to our culture. Our leaders have high values alignment enabling us to make the right decisions for our colleagues and our customers.
Our customers continue to be at the heart of everything we do, whether it be in store, online or in their communities. Our commitment to our customers mirrors that of our commitment to our colleagues.

Technological Developments
After delivering the appropriate technology the Group recently opened its first fully automated, unmanned, satellite self storage centre in Christchurch shortly followed by its second in Eastleigh. Utilising industry leading automated technology, along with in-house created communication and control technologies, customers can securely enter the building and their storage unit from a simple app on their mobile phone Several additional unmanned satellite stores are currently under various stages of development in the UK.

Our customers also have the option to complete a booking and contract for a self storage unit online for any UK store location. The Group’s belief is that its multi-channel sales strategy utilising, full automation, colleague interaction through our store sales teams or our specialist call centre and  National Accounts team provide each type of customer with the most tailored and easy way to buy self storage at Safestore.

Customer Satisfaction
In February 2023, Safestore UK won the Feefo Platinum Trusted Service award for the fourth year running. The award is given to businesses which have achieved Gold standard for three consecutive years. It is an independent mark of excellence that recognises businesses for delivering exceptional experiences, as rated by real customers. In addition to using Feefo, Safestore invites customers to leave a review on a number of review platforms, including Google and Trustpilot. Our ratings for each of these three providers in the UK is 4.8 out of 5. In France, Une Pièce en Plus uses Trustpilot to obtain independent customer reviews with a “TrustScore” of 4.6 out of 5. In Spain, OMB collects customer feedback via Google reviews and has maintained a score of 4.8 out of 5.
Central Revenue Management and Cost Control
We continue to pursue a balanced approach to revenue management. We aim to optimise revenue by improving the utilisation of the available space in our portfolio at carefully managed rates. Our central pricing team is responsible for the management of our dynamic pricing policy, the implementation of promotional offers and the identification of additional ancillary revenue opportunities. Whilst price lists are managed centrally and are adjusted on a real-time basis, the store sales teams have, from time to time, the ability to offer a Lowest Price Guarantee in the event that a local competitor is offering a lower price, or the ability to offer discretionary discounts. The Lowest Price Guarantee and discretionary discount are centrally controlled and activated on a store by store and unit by unit basis.

 Average rates are predominantly influenced by:
  • The store location and catchment area;
  • The volume of enquiries generated online;
  • The store team skills at converting these enquiries into new lets at the expected price; and
  • The very granular pricing policy and the confidence provided by analytical capabilities and systems that smaller players might lack.

We believe that Safestore has a very strong proposition in each of these areas.

Costs are managed centrally with a lean structure maintained at Head Office. Enhancements to cost control are continually considered and the cost base is challenged on an ongoing basis.

1 – MLA is Maximum Lettable Area. At 31 October 2023, Group MLA was c. 8.09 million sq ft (FY2022: c. 7.70 million sq ft).

Strong and Flexible Capital Structure

Strong and flexible capital structure
Since 2014 we have refinanced the business on seven occasions, each time optimising our debt structure and improving terms; and believe we have maintained a capital structure that is appropriate for our business and which provides us with the flexibility to take advantage of carefully evaluated development and acquisition opportunities.

At 31 October 2023, based on the current level of borrowings and interest rates, the Group’s weighted average cost of debt, after adjusting for capitalised interest costs, was 2.97% (FY2022: 2.23%). The weighted average maturity of the Group’s drawn debt is 4.7 years at the current period end and the Group’s LTV ratio is 25.4% as at 31 October 2023.

The Group has £528m of fixed rate US private placement notes which constitute 72% of the total drawn debt. The tenors of the notes are from 2024 to 2033 with €51m of notes expiring in May 2024.

This LTV of 25.4% and interest cover ratio of 6.7x for the rolling twelve-month period ended 31 October 2023 provides us with significant headroom compared to our banking covenants (LTV of 60% and ICR of 2.4:1). The reduction in ICR12 reflects the increased interest costs from funding the development pipeline. We had c. £200 million of undrawn bank facilities at 31 October 2023 before taking into consideration the additional £100 million uncommitted accordion facility.

Taking into account the improvements we have made in the performance of the business, the Group is capable of generating free cash after dividends sufficient to fund the building of three to four new stores per annum depending on location and availability of land.

The Group evaluates development and acquisition opportunities in a careful and disciplined manner against rigorous investment criteria. Our investment policy requires certain Board-approved hurdle rates to be considered achievable prior to progressing an investment opportunity. In addition, the Group aims to maintain a Group LTV1 ratio below 40% which the Board considers to be appropriate for the Group.

November 2022 refinancing
In November 2022, the Group completed the refinancing of its Revolving Credit Facilities (“RCFs”) which were due to expire in June 2023.

The previous £250 million Sterling and €70 million Euro secured RCFs have been replaced with a single multi-currency unsecured £400 million facility. In addition, a further £100 million uncommitted accordion facility is incorporated into the facility agreement.

The facility is for a four-year term with two one-year extension options exercisable after the first and second years of the agreement. The first extension has recently been completed.

The Group pays interest at a margin of 1.25% plus SONIA or Euribor depending on whether the borrowings are drawn in Sterling or Euros. The margin is at the same level as the previous facility agreements.

Environmental, Social and Governance (“ESG”) KPIs have been agreed with the Group’s lenders. The margin under the facility is now linked to ESG targets, which could enable a reduction in the margin of up to 5bps to 120bps.
A commitment fee of 35% of the margin is payable on undrawn amounts under the facility. This has reduced from 40% under the previous facility agreements.

Reflecting the Group’s improved credit profile, the banking group and existing US Private Placement Noteholders have agreed that all of the Group’s previously secured borrowings move to an unsecured basis, thus reducing administrative and legal costs associated with the facilities.

1 – LTV ratio is Loan-to-Value ratio, which is defined as gross debt (excluding lease liabilities) as a proportion of the valuation of investment properties and investment properties under construction (excluding lease liabilities). At 31 October 2023, the Group LTV ratio was 25.4%, calculated on a net debt basis.

Portfolio Management

Portfolio Management
Our approach to store development and acquisitions in the UK, Paris and Spain and now the Netherlands and Belgium, continues to be pragmatic, flexible and focused on the return on capital.

Our property teams continue to seek investment opportunities in new sites to add to the store pipeline. However, investments will only be made if they comply with our disciplined and strict investment criteria. Our preference is to acquire sites that are capable of being fully operational within 18-24 months from completion.

Since 2016, the Group has opened 31 new stores including seven in London, five in Paris, seven in Barcelona and Madrid, six in major UK cities, four in UK conurbations and two in the Netherlands adding 1,446,000 sq ft of MLA.

In addition, the Group has acquired 47 existing stores through the acquisitions of Space Maker, Alligator, Fort Box, Salus and Your Room in the UK, OhMyBox! in Barcelona, the Lokabox and M3 group from our Benelux JV acquisition and a store in Apeldoorn in the Netherlands. These acquisitions added a further 1,890,000 sq ft of MLA and revenue performance has been enhanced in all cases under the Group’s ownership.

We have also completed the extensions and refurbishments of twelve stores across the portfolio adding a net 140,000 sq ft of fully invested space to the estate. All of these stores are performing in line with or ahead of their business plans.

Despite thirteen stores being opened, extended or acquired and c. 500,000 sq ft of new MLA in the period, the Group’s current pipeline of new developments and store extensions (see below) has grown over the last year and now constitutes c. 1,454,000 sq ft of future MLA. The pipeline is equivalent to c. 18% of the existing portfolio. The outstanding capital expenditure of £128 million is expected to be funded from the Group’s existing resources. The total capital expenditure on stores opened in the 2022/23 financial year-to-date as well as the outstanding pipeline is estimated to be c. £251 million. Our industry leading level of REVPAF typically allows us to deliver returns above our cash on cash hurdle of at least 10%. Our current average portfolio cash on cash return is 15%. On a 10% return basis, a further £25-£30m of EBITDA will be generated at stabilisation (c. four years after opening).

Property Pipeline

Open 2023 FH/LH MLA Other
Redevelopments and Extensions      
London- Crayford LH 9,400 Extension
London- Paddington Marble Arch LH 8,400 Extension
New Developments      
London- Morden FH 52,000  New build
Madrid- North FH 53,000 Conversion
Madrid- South FH 32,000 Conversion
Madrid- East FH 50,000 Conversion
Barcelona- South FH 30,600 Conversion
Barcelona- North FH 42,000 Conversion
Barcelona- Central 3 LH 14,700 Conversion
Netherlands- Amersfoort FH 58,000 New build
Wigan FH 42,700 Conversion
Ellesmere Port FH 55,000 New build
Total MLA LH 447,800  
Open 2023 (post-year end) FH/LH MLA Other
New Developments      
Eastleigh   14,000 Conversion, Satellie

Lease Extensions
During the period we completed the extensions of our leases at Edinburgh Fort Kinnaird, London- Charlton, London- Slough and Burnley stores.
The Edinburgh lease has been extended by a further 10 years to 2040.
At London- Charlton we have extended the lease term to 2038. In doing so we have agreed a three-month rent-free period.
In Burnley we have also extended the lease to 2038 with tenant break options every five years.
At London- Slough the lease was re-geared to extend by 15 years, the total lease length at the end of the current financial year is 18 years.
As part of our ongoing asset management programme, we have now extended the leases on 31 stores or 84% of our leased store portfolio in the UK since 2012. As a result, since 2012 the remaining lease length of our UK stores has remained at c. 11-13 years.
Freehold Purchases
In Barcelona, the Group has been leasing its Valencia store since 2013. During the period, the freehold of the site was acquired for €3.6m.
In addition, the freehold of our Oldbury store in West Birmingham was acquired for £5.7m.

Property pipeline summary
Our pipeline of c.1.5 million sq ft represents c.18% of our existing property portfolio.

 Opening 2024 FH/LH Status* MLA Other
Redevelopments and Extensions        
London- Holloway FH C, STP 9,500 Extension
Paris- Poissy FH C, UC 12,000 Extension
Paris- Pyrenees LH C, UC 22,200 Extension
New Developments        
London- Paddington Park West FH C, UC 13,000 Conversion, Satellite
London- Lea Bridge FH C, UC 80,900 New build
Paris- South Paris FH C, UC 55,000 New build
Paris- West 3 FH C, UC 58,000 New build
Paris- East 1 FH C, UC 60,000 Conversion
Paris- North West 4 FH C, UC 54,000 Conversion
Paris- West 4 FH CE, UC 53,000 New build
Madrid- South West FH C, UC 46,800 Conversion
Madrid- South 2 FH C, UC 68,800 Conversion
Madrid- North East FH C, STP 57,000 Conversion
Barcelona- Central 2 LH C, PG 20,400 Conversion
Randstad- Almere FH C, UC 44,500 Conversion
Randstad- Aalsmeer FH C, UC 48,400 New build
Randstad- Rotterdam FH C, UC 71,000 New build
Opening 2025        
New Developments        
London- Woodford FH C, PG 68,700 New build
London- Walton FH C, PG 20,700 Conversion
London- Watford FH CE, PG 46,750 New build
London- Wembley FH C, STP 49,000 New build
Paris- West 1 FH C, PG 56,000 New build
Paris- La Défense FH C, UC 44,000 Mixed use facility
Randstad- Amsterdam FH CE, PG 61,400 New build
Brussels- Zaventum FH CE, PG 47,400 New build
Pamplona FH C, PG 64,500 Conversion
Opening beyond 2025        
New Developments        
London- Old Kent Road FH C, STP 76,500 New build
London- Bermondsey FH C, STP 50,000 New build
London- Romford FH C, STP 41,000 New build
Shoreham FH CE, PG 54,000 New build
Total Pipeline MLA (let sq ft- million)     c.1.454  
Total Outstanding CAPEX (£’m)     c.128.0  


*C = completed, CE = contracts exchanged, STP = subject to planning, PG = planning granted, UC = under construction

The pipeline of 1,454,000 sq ft of future MLA includes:

  • ten projects with c. 456,000 sq ft of MLA in London (31% of the pipeline),
  • one project with c. 54,000 sq ft of MLA in the South East of the UK (4% of the pipeline)
  • nine projects with c. 414,000 sq ft of MLA in Paris (29% of the pipeline),
  • five projects with c. 258,000 sq ft of MLA in Spain (18% of the pipeline),
  • five projects with c. 225,000 sq ft of MLA in the Netherlands (15% of the pipeline)
  • one project in Belgium with c. 47,000 sq ft of MLA (3% of the pipeline)

Since our fourth quarter announcement in November 2023, three sites have had planning granted. Of the 30 projects in the pipeline only six are now subject to planning.

Acquisition of Apeldoorn Self Storage Facility in the Netherlands
During the period, the Group completed the acquisition of an existing 58,000 sq ft self storage facility in Apeldoorn in the Netherlands. The store was operating under the Stoor brand and is situated in an easily accessible commercial district on the north side of the city, which has a population of 165,000.
New Joint Venture with Carlyle and Investment in myStorage in Germany
In December 2022 Safestore entered the German self storage market via a new Joint Venture with Carlyle, which has acquired the myStorage business.

Safestore has developed a multi-country highly scalable platform with leading marketing and operational expertise in self storage, with a proven track record for developing its platform in new markets. 

The acquisition of myStorage represents an excellent opportunity to develop our platform into the attractive German self storage market. The Joint Venture builds upon our previous successful relationship with Carlyle having entered the Benelux market in 2019. Our common intention is to target development and acquisition opportunities through the Joint Venture, providing the opportunity to achieve operational scale and to develop local market knowledge, whilst also retaining the option for Safestore to develop its own wholly owned self storage sites in Germany. We look forward to continuing our working relationship with Carlyle, and to developing a long and mutually beneficial relationship.

The German market is one of Europe’s more under-penetrated markets with just 0.21 sq ft of storage space per capita which compares to 0.82 sq ft in the UK, 0.35 sq ft in France, 0.32 sq ft in Spain, 0.50 sq ft in the Netherlands and 0.20 sq ft in Belgium. According to the 2023 FEDESSA report, there are just 530 facilities in Germany and 17.6 million sq ft of lettable space.

myStorage has seven medium to long-term leasehold stores and 326,000 sq ft of MLA in Berlin, Heidelburg, Mannheim, Fürth, Nuremburg, Neu-Ulm and Reutlingen.

Safestore’s initial investment in the Joint Venture was a c. €2.2 million equity investment for a 10% share of the Joint Venture. Safestore will also earn a fee for providing management services to the Joint Venture. The Group expects to earn an initial return on investment of c. 15% for the first full year before transaction related costs reflecting its share of expected Joint Venture profits and fees for management services.

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