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 venture1 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.

1 – On 30 March 2022, the Group acquired the remaining 80% of the Joint Venture with CERF. Prior to acquiring the 80%, the Joint Venture with CERF, which represented a 20% investment, was accounted for as an associate using the equity method of accounting, as described in the “Investment in associates” note to the financial statements.

Optimisation of Existing Portfolio

With the opening of 22 new stores since August 2016, and the acquisitions of 46 stores through the purchases of Space Maker in July 2016, Alligator in November 2017, our Heathrow store, Fort Box in London and OMB in Barcelona in 2019, Your Room in 2021 and the Benelux JV in 2022, 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 179 stores as at 31 October 2022, 101 are in London and the South East of England or in Paris, with 58 in the other major UK cities and 20 in Barcelona and the Benelux region. In the UK, we now operate 49 stores within the M25, which represents a higher number of stores than any other competitor.

Our MLA1 has increased to 7.7m sq ft at 31 October 2022 (FY2021: 6.96m sq ft). At the current occupancy level of 82.1% we have 1.4m sq ft of fully invested unoccupied space (2.8m sq ft including the development pipeline), of which 1.0m sq ft is in our UK stores, 0.2m sq ft is in Paris and 0.2m sq ft is in Barcelona and Benelux. In total, unlet space at our existing stores is the equivalent of c.35 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 the 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 2022, occupancy of the stores in the portfolio in 2013 that remain in the Group today has increased from 63.1% to 84.2%, i.e. an average of 2.3ppts per year and equivalent to a total of 1.1m sq ft.
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 self storage (source: SSA Annual Report). In the UK, many of our new customers are using self storage for the first time. 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 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 54% enquiry growth for the Group over the last five years. 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.

The Group’s online strength came to the fore during the various Covid-19 lockdowns and has since continued to support customer acquisition growth. Online enquiries in FY2022 rose to 90% of our enquiries in the UK (FY2021: 89%) and 85% in France (FY2021: 84%). The majority of our online enquiries now originate from a mobile device (65% share in FY2022), 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 as a percentage of revenue were 3.6% for the full year (FY2021: 3.7%). This percentage has constantly reduced over the last eight years and is now at its lowest level in that period.

During the 2021/22 trading year, the Group demonstrated its ability to integrate newly developed and acquired stores into its marketing platform with successful new openings at Bow (London, UK), Christchurch (Dorset, UK), Nijmegen (Netherlands), and an additional store in Barcelona. We have now clearly demonstrated that our marketing platform is transferrable into multiple overseas geographies.

In February 2022, Safestore UK won the Feefo Platinum Trusted Service award for the third time. 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 are between 4.6 and 4.8 out of 5. In France, Une Pièce en Plus uses Trustpilot to obtain independent customer reviews and in FY2022 achieved a “TrustScore” of 4.6 out of 5. In Spain, OMB collects customer feedback via Google reviews and has maintained a score of 4.6 out of 5.
Motivated and effective store teams benefiting from improved training and development
In what is still a relatively immature and poorly understood product, customer service and selling skills at the point of sale remain essential in earning the trust of the customer and in driving the appropriate balance of volumes and unit price in order to optimise revenue growth in each store.

In the first half of our 2021/22 trading year, we moved away from Covid-based restrictions to a business-as-usual operating model in stores removing all screens and signage, although we continue to display advisory mask and distancing messages along with safe working protocols for both our customers and colleagues.

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 in-store trusted advisers 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.

IIP is the international standard for people management, defining what it takes to lead, support, and engage people effectively to achieve sustainable results. Underpinning the standard is the Investors in People framework, reflecting the latest workplace trends, essential skills and effective structures required to outperform in any industry. Investors in People enables organisations to benchmark against the best in the business on an international scale. We are proud to have our colleagues recognised to such a high standard, not only in our industry, but also across over 50,000 organisations in 66 countries. This sustained people engagement focus is an essential component of our continuous improvement mentality.

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.

The Covid-19 pandemic provided a challenging environment requiring us to operate in some new and innovative ways. Our online learning portal, combined with the energy and flexibility of our store colleagues, allowed us to not only continue to deliver our award-winning development programmes but also to capitalise on the strength of our IT platforms. As the restrictions in the UK relaxed through the second half of 2021, we were able to combine our newly created technology communication skills with our tried and tested face-to-face training sessions in a newly created “impact” sales refresher.

Following our late 2021 sales refreshers, we took the opportunity to review many of our training, coaching and compliance tools to take advantage of our higher performance levels and skilled colleagues. The integration of flexible contract types and enhanced digital contracts have all been included in our updated version of QUEST, our sales framework. This two-day programme has been delivered, face-to-face, to every colleague in our store and field teams in the first half of 2022.

We recognised the changing needs and demands of our customers, not only through the challenging times of 2020/21, but also through the newly emerging demands and requirements in late 2021. 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. These enhancements have combined to help us create our 2023 QUEST programme which commenced roll-out in late September 2022 focusing on the new contract types and technologies available to us.

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. In May 2022, we began our assessment process for the sixth intake of the SMD (Store Manager Development programme) with a first-class group of candidates ready to learn the necessary skills and attributes they need to become a Safestore Store Manager. 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.

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.

Our Senior Manager Development programme (“LEAD”) focuses on developing our high performing store managers, aimed at preparing them for more senior roles within the business. This programme is built on the foundations of our Store Manager Development programme and included delegates delivering performance-enhancing projects to our wider business. We are proud that all nine participants of our Senior Leadership Development programme (LEAD Academy) successfully completed their Level 5 Management and Leadership apprenticeship; six of those participants were awarded Distinctions.

Furthermore, we have re-launched our Graduate programme, with our first intake commencing in October 2022, providing 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, 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 Forum”, raising and representing the views of their colleagues.
  • 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. In 2022 we maintained our industry-leading independent customer ratings, with a Feefo Platinum Trusted Service award and a 5-star Trustpilot rating, with over twice the reviews of our nearest competitor. Along with our strong Google ratings, these independent assessments further reflect our ongoing commitment to customer satisfaction as the number one storage provider in the UK.
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's 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.

ESG Strategy (Sustainable Self Storage)

Our purpose - to add stakeholder value by developing profitable and sustainable spaces that allow individuals, businesses and local communities to thrive – is supported by the “pillars” of our sustainability strategy: our people, our customers, our community and our environment. In addition, the Group and its stakeholders recognise that its efforts are part of a broader movement and we have, therefore, aligned our objectives with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (“SDGs”). We reviewed the significance of each goal to our business and the importance of each goal to our stakeholders and assessed our ability to contribute to each goal. Following this materiality exercise, we have chosen to focus our efforts in the areas where we can have a meaningful impact. These are “Decent work and economic growth” (goal 8), “Sustainable cities and communities” (goal 11), “Responsible consumption and production” (goal 12) and “Climate action” (goal 13).

Sustainability is embedded into day-to-day responsibilities at Safestore and, accordingly, we have opted for a governance structure which reflects this. Two members of the Executive Management team co-chair a cross-functional sustainability group consisting of the functional leads responsible for each area of the business.

In 2018, the Group established medium-term targets in each of the “pillars” towards which the Group continued to progress in FY2022.

Our people: Safestore was awarded the prestigious Investors in People (“IIP”) Platinum accreditation and was in the final top ten shortlist for Platinum Employer of the Year (250+) category in The Investors in People Awards 2021. The Group’s response during the pandemic lockdowns and aftermath has had a profound impact on trust in leadership and colleague engagement and motivation.

Our customers: The Group’s brands continue to deliver a high-quality experience, from online enquiry to move-in. This is reflected in customer satisfaction scores on independent review platforms (Trustpilot, Feefo, Google) of over 90% in each market. The introduction of digital contracts during the pandemic offers both customer convenience and a reduction in printing, saving an estimated 44,000 pieces of paper each month.

Our community: Safestore remains committed to being a responsible business by making a positive contribution within the local communities wherever our stores are based. We continue to do this by developing brownfield sites and actively engaging with local communities when we establish a new store, identifying and implementing greener approaches in the way we build and operate our stores, helping charities and communities to make better use of limited space, and creating and sustaining local employment opportunities directly and indirectly through the many small and medium-sized enterprises which use our space. During FY2022, the space occupied by local charities in 222 units across 103 stores was 18,903 sq ft and worth £0.7 million.

Our environment: Safestore is committed to ensuring our buildings are constructed responsibly and their ongoing operation has a minimal impact on local communities and the environment. It should be noted that the self storage sector is not a significant consumer of energy when compared with other real estate subsectors. As a result, operational emissions intensity tends to be far lower. According to a 2021 report by KPMG and EPRA, self storage generates the lowest greenhouse gas emissions intensity (5.75 kg/m2 for scope 1 and 2) of all European real estate sub-sectors, with emissions per m2 less than 30% of the European listed real estate average (19.5 kg/m2) and notably 21% of the emissions intensity of the residential sub-sector (27.0 kg/m2). Reflecting the considerable progress made on energy mix, efficiency measures and waste reduction to date, Safestore’s emissions intensity (3.9 kg/m2 in 2020) is considerably lower (-32%) than the self storage subsector average. In FY2022, the Group continued to progress with a further 2.7% decline in absolute emissions despite continued portfolio growth and greater utilisation of stores compared to 2021. Safestore’s absolute (location-based) emissions are now 54% below, and emissions intensity 68% below the 2013 baseline level despite significant growth in portfolio floor space. Moving forward, the Group has a commitment to be operationally carbon neutral by 2035 with a medium term target to reduce operational emissions (market-based) by 50% compared to the level in FY2021 by 2025. The total investment to achieve carbon neutrality should be around £3 million.

In addition to the IIP award and the customer satisfaction ratings, the Group has received recognition for its sustainability progress and disclosures in the last twelve months. Safestore has been given a Silver rating in the 2022 EPRA Sustainability BPR awards. The Global ESG Benchmark for Real Assets (“GRESB”) has once again awarded Safestore an “A” rating in its 2022 Public Disclosures assessment. MSCI has awarded Safestore its second-highest rating of “AA” for ESG in 2022. The Group has also been awarded the highest rating of five stars by Support the Goals.

Finally, the Group has worked with its banking lenders to agree ESG related KPI’s which are linked to the margin payable under its new £400 million facility. Two KPI’s have been agreed, which, when achieved, result in a reduction in margin of up 5bps.

1 – MLA is Maximum Lettable Area. At 31 October 2022, Group MLA was c.7.70m sq ft (FY2021: c.6.96m 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 2022, based on the current level of borrowings and interest swap rates, the Group’s weighted average cost of debt was 2.41% and 93% of our drawn debt was at fixed rate or hedged. The weighted average maturity of the Group’s drawn debt is 5.1 years at the current period end and the Group’s LTV ratio is 24.4% as at 31 October 2022.

Based on our current development pipeline and our internal assumptions on how SONIA and Euribor will grow over the coming months, we anticipate that our weighted average cost of debt will increase to c.2.6% to 2.8% by the end of 2023.

This LTV of 24.4% and interest cover ratio of 11.4x for the rolling twelve-month period ended 31 October 2022 provides us with significant headroom compared to our banking covenants. We had £208.4 million of undrawn bank facilities at 31 October 2022 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.

New financing
In April 2022, Safestore drew its existing uncommitted $115 million Shelf Facility. The facility was drawn in Euros for a 7- year term at an interest rate of 2.45% in order to partially fund the acquisition of Carlyle’s 80% share of the Benelux JV.

Since the end of the financial year, the Group has completed the refinancing of its Revolving Credit Facilities (“RCF’s”) 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 Group will pay 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.

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.

The main covenants under all of the Group’s borrowings are a Group Loan-to-value (“LTV”) covenant of 60% (replacing separate UK and French LTV covenants) which is based on net debt rather than gross debt and an Interest Cover Ratio covenant of 2.4x.

The hedging arrangements under the previous facility agreements have been continued under the new agreements. Therefore, the Group benefits from £55 million of Interest Rate Swaps until 30 June 2023 at a rate of 0.6885%.

Environmental, Social and Governance (“ESG”) KPI’s have been agreed with the Group’s lenders. The margin under the facility is now linked to ESG targets, where met enable a reduction in the margin of up to 5bps.

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 2022, the Group LTV ratio was 24.4%. Under the new revolving credit facility, signed 11 November 2022, LTV is to be calculated against net debt which equates to an LTV of 23.6%.

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 22 new stores: Chiswick, Wandsworth, Mitcham, Paddington Marble Arch, Carshalton, Bow (all in London), Birmingham Central, Birmingham Merry Hill, Birmingham Middleway, Altrincham, Peterborough, Gateshead and Sheffield in the UK, and Emerainville, Combs-la-Ville, Poissy, Pontoise and Magenta in Paris, Nijmegen in the Netherlands and Pronvenca in Barcelona, with a further two stores opening in Madrid in November 2022 adding 1,093,000 sq ft of MLA.

In addition, the Group has acquired 46 existing stores through the acquisitions of Space Maker, Alligator, Fort Box, Salus and Your Room in the UK, OhMyBox! in Barcelona, and the Lokabox and M3 group from our Benelux JV acquisition. These acquisitions added a further 1,844,000 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 our Acton, Barking, Bedford, Chingford, Wimbledon, Edgware, Southend, Paddington Marble Arch, Winchester and Longpont (Paris) stores adding a net 122,000 sq ft of fully invested space to the estate. All of these stores are performing in line with or ahead of their business plans.

The Group’s current pipeline of new developments and store extensions (see below) has grown significantly over the last year and now constitutes c.1,407,000 sq ft of future MLA. The pipeline and store openings since the end of the 2022 financial year is equivalent to c.19% of the existing portfolio. The outstanding capital expenditure of £146 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. £245m. At our usual cash on cash return hurdles of c.10% we would estimate that these stores will add c. £24.5m of EBITDA at stabilisation (c. 4 years after opening).

Property Pipeline

 Open 2022 FH/LH Opening Date MLA Other
Redevelopments and Extensions        
London- Old Kent Road LH Q1 2022 8,500 Extension
London- Woodford FH Q1 2022 10,100 Extension
London- Morden FH Q1 2022 22,900 Extension
London- Bermondsey FH Q1 2022 9,000 Extension
Shoreham FH Q4 2022 11,000 Extension
New Developments        
London- Bow FH Q1 2022 74,000  Conversion
Central Barcelona FH Q1 2022 12,500 Conversion
Nijmegen- Netherlands FH Q1 2022 40,000 Conversion
Open 2023        
New Developments        
Northern Madrid FH Q1 2023 53,000 Conversion
Southern Madrid FH Q1 2023 32,000 Conversion

In September 2020 the Group received planning permission to extend its Southend store by 10,100 sq ft. The existing store has an MLA of 49,400 sq ft and was 86% occupied at the end of September 2020. The extension opened in December 2021.

In January 2021, the Group exchanged contracts on a freehold building in a densely populated area in Central Barcelona. The conversion of the existing building into a 12,500 sq ft MLA self storage facility is complete and the store is now open.

In March 2021 and April 2021, the Group exchanged contracts on two freehold buildings in Southern Madrid and Northern Madrid respectively. Both acquisitions have been completed with planning granted and the existing buildings have been converted into 32,000 and 53,000 sq ft MLA self storage facilities. Both sites opened post-year end in November 2022.

In April 2021, we exchanged contracts on the acquisition of a 0.5-acre site adjacent to our existing London Wimbledon store (MLA 58,800 sq ft). We completed this transaction in December 2021 and construction was completed just after the period end. The existing reception area has been relocated to a more prominent and visible roadside location and a further 9,000 sq ft of storage capacity and 1,000 sq ft of offices have been added. The Wimbledon store’s peak occupancy, prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, was 92%.

In May 2021, the Group completed the freehold acquisition of a 0.8-acre site with a 108,000 sq ft warehouse to the east of London in a prominent position on the A12 in Bow. The building had existing consent for storage and we only required planning consents for some external modifications to the building. Otherwise, the building was suitable for immediate conversion to self storage. The 74,000 sq ft store opened in December 2021.

In addition, in May 2021, the Group exchanged contracts on a leasehold basement car park adjacent to our existing London Paddington Marble Arch store. The occupancy of the Paddington Marble Arch store on 31 March 2021 was 80%. The extension opened in December 2021, adding 8,500 sq ft of MLA.
The Group has also received planning permission to extend its Edgware store by a further 22,900 sq ft. The existing store has MLA of 24,000 sq ft and reached a peak occupancy of 91% prior to extension works commencing. The extension opened in December 2021.

An 11,000 sq ft extension to our existing Winchester store opened in the quarter. The existing store has an MLA of 42,000 sq ft and has peaked at more than 90% occupancy.

In January 2022, the Netherlands business opened a new store in Nijmegen. The store is freehold with an MLA of 40,000 sq ft and is a conversion of an existing building. Nijmegen has a population of 177,000 and the site is well located on a main road with good visibility and access.

Development sites
In June 2018, Safestore opened its Paddington Marble Arch store. A separate satellite store at Paddington Park West Place, with MLA of 13,000 sq ft, will open during 2024.

In April 2021, the Group exchanged contracts on a freehold 1.3-acre site at Lea Bridge in Northeast London. The acquisition of the site has now been completed and we plan to open a 76,500 sq ft MLA store in 2024 as the leases for existing tenants on the site have up to two years to run. Rental income of approximately £170k per annum is currently received on this site.

In addition, in April 2021, the Group exchanged contracts on a freehold site in Woodford in Northeast London. Subject to planning, we will open a 76,000 sq ft MLA store in 2025.

In July 2021, the Group exchanged contracts on a freehold 0.8-acre site in Shoreham, West Sussex. Shoreham is situated between Brighton and Worthing on the south coast of England. Subject to planning, we will open a purpose built 54,000 sq ft MLA store in 2024.

In November 2021, the Group completed the acquisition of a 1.2-acre freehold site off Old Kent Road in the London Borough of Southwark in Southeast London. Subject to planning, we hope to open a c.76,500 sq ft MLA store in due course. Existing tenants on the site will provide a rental income in the meantime.

In May 2022, the Group completed the acquisition of a 2.1-acre freehold site including an existing warehouse in Wigan in Greater Manchester. Subject to minor planning approvals for elevations and signage, we plan to convert the existing building and open a c.42,700 sq ft MLA store in 2023.

The Group has also previously acquired two additional sites in London at Morden and Bermondsey. Morden is a freehold 0.9-acre site in an established industrial location. Planning permission for a 52,000 sq ft self storage facility has now been granted and construction on this site is underway with a view to opening in 2023.  Bermondsey is a 0.5-acre freehold site with income from existing tenants and is adjacent to our existing leasehold store. Our medium term aim, subject to planning permission, is to extend our existing Bermondsey operations with the addition of a new self storage facility to complement our existing store.

In Romford in London, we have secured a freehold site with an existing warehouse which will be converted, subject to planning permission, to a 41,000 sq ft store, opening in 2024.

In Crayford, we have secured a leasehold site on which we will convert an existing warehouse to a 9,400 sq ft extension to our existing Crayford site. We hope to open the satellite store in 2023.

In Walton-on-Thames in London, we have secured a freehold site with an existing warehouse which will be converted, subject to planning permission, to a 20,700 sq ft store. We hope to open the store in 2025.

Our total UK development pipeline now amounts to c.511,800 sq ft of which c.415,100 sq ft is in London.

Safestore has for many years owned a vacant freehold site in the town of Nanterre on the edge of La Défense, Paris’ main business district. This area of Paris is undergoing significant development and Safestore has invested a 24.9% stake in a joint venture development company, PBC Les Groues SAS, which is constructing a c.300,000 sq ft development of offices, retail, a school and residential properties.

Safestore has contributed its Nanterre site into the project, receiving cash of €1.0 million in addition to the delivery of an underground storage area and reception within the complex, ready to be fitted out into a 44,000 sq ft self storage facility. Planning for the project has been received and construction has commenced.

It is anticipated that the project will be completed in 2025 when the self storage facility will open.

In August 2021, the Group exchanged contracts on a freehold site in Southern Paris with a significant frontage onto the N104 motorway. The site includes an existing building which will be demolished and replaced by a 55,000 sq ft MLA store. We expect the store to open in 2023.

Over the first half of 2022 we exchanged contracts on three freehold development sites to the west of Paris. All sites required planning permission and newly built stores of 56,000 sq ft, 20,000 sq ft and 58,000 sq ft were planned to be constructed by the end of 2023. Our Paris West 2 site (20,000 sq ft) did not receive planning permission and has been removed from the pipeline.

Paris East 1 and Paris North West 1 are freehold sites on which we will convert existing buildings, subject to planning, to 60,000 sq ft and 54,000 sq ft stores respectively. We expect the stores to open in 2023.

Our Paris pipeline now amounts to c.349,200 sq ft.

In December 2019, the Group completed the acquisition of OMB Self Storage which operates three leasehold properties and one freehold property, all very well located in the centre of Barcelona. The four locations (Valencia, Calabria, Glories and Marina) have an MLA totalling 108,000 sq ft. A fifth store, in Central Barcelona, was opened during 2022. The occupancy of the business at the end of October 2022 was 78.9% and 85.9% on a like-for-like basis.

The Group is continuing its expansion of the business in Barcelona and its entry into the Madrid market with the acquisition of the following sites.

In April 2021, the Group exchanged contracts on a freehold building in Northern Barcelona. Subject to planning, we will convert the existing building into a 42,000 sq ft MLA . It is anticipated that the site will open in the 2022/23 financial year.

In June 2021, the Group exchanged contracts on a freehold property in South Barcelona. The site includes an existing industrial building which will be converted into a 30,000 sq ft MLA self storage facility. Planning has been granted and we expect to open the site in the 2022/23 financial year.

In August 2021, the Group exchanged contracts on a leasehold site in Central Barcelona. The site is a former car dealership which will be converted to a 24,700 sq ft MLA store which, subject to planning, should open in 2024.
In December 2021, the Group exchanged contracts on a freehold building in a commercial and industrial area of Eastern Madrid. Subject to completion, we will convert the existing building into a 50,000 sq ft MLA self storage facility. It is anticipated that the site will open in 2023.

In August 2022, the Group exchanged contracts on a freehold building in a commercial and industrial area of South West Madrid. Subject to planning and completion, we will convert the existing building into a 46,800 sq ft MLA self storage facility. It is anticipated that the site will open in 2024.

A new freehold site has been secured in Southern Madrid (Southern Madrid 2) on which we will convert an existing building, subject to planning permission, into a 68,800 sq ft storage facility. It is anticipated that the site will open in 2024.

Our Spanish pipeline now amounts to c.262,300 sq ft including 165,600 sq ft across three stores in Madrid and 96,700 sq ft over three stores in Barcelona.

The Spanish business now has seven open stores and a pipeline consisting of a further six stores amounting to c.262,300 sq ft of MLA.

During the year we exchanged contracts on a freehold site at Amersfoort, 40 minutes east of Amsterdam. The acquisition is subject to planning permission and we anticipate that the new store, which will have an MLA of 58,000 sq ft, will be opened in 2023.

The Group completed the acquisition of a freehold site in Almere, a city with a population of 214,000 which is 20 minutes’ drive from Amsterdam. Subject to planning, we will convert the two existing buildings on the site into a 44,500 sq ft MLA self storage facility. It is anticipated that the site will open in 2023.

New freehold sites have been secured in Amsterdam and Aalsmeer where we will build new stores, subject to planning, of 61,400 sq ft and 48,400 sq ft respectively. The two stores should open in 2024.

Since the year end, the Group has secured a freehold site in Rotterdam for construction of a 71,000 sq ft MLA store subject to planning. Rotterdam is one of the major cities in the Netherlands with a population of 588,000 and forms part of the larger Randstad area. The new site forms part of a larger re-development within the heart of an affluent district of the city.

In the Netherlands, our pipeline now consists of 283,300 sq ft of space in five stores.

Store extensions
The Group plans to redevelop and extend its Pyrénées store in Paris. The extension will add 22,200 sq ft and is planned to open in 2023. As of September 2022, the store occupancy was 94%.

Lease extensions and assignments
During the period we extended the lease on our Exeter store in the UK. The lease will now continue until February 2045 with tenant-only break clauses in 2035 and 2040. A six-month rent-free period was agreed as part of the renegotiation.

In Crayford, we have extended the lease on our existing store to 2042, with a tenant-only break option in 2032. A rent-free period of four months was agreed as part of this agreement. The lease on the new satellite store reported above also terminates in 2042.

In Sunderland, we have extended the lease on our store to 2047 with a tenant break option in 2037. A six-month rent-free period was agreed as part of this lease extension.

As part of our ongoing asset management programme, we have now extended the leases on 27 stores or 70% 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.

Site Disposal
In April 2021 we opened our Birmingham Middleway store (58,000 sq ft MLA) and closed our Digbeth store (44,500 sq ft MLA) shortly thereafter. Customers were relocated to the bigger, better located new store. At the time, we stated that we intended to sell the Digbeth site.

We are pleased to confirm that the Digbeth site sale was completed in August 2022. The proceeds received funded the entire acquisition and construction of the Middleway site. As of September 2022, the Middleway site was 83% occupied.

Property pipeline summary
Our pipeline of c.1.4m sq ft represents c.18% of our existing property portfolio.

 Open 2023 FH/LH Status* MLA Other
Redevelopments and Extensions        
London- Crayford LH C, UC 9,400 Extension
Paris- Pyrenees LH C, UC 22,200 Extension
New Developments        
London- Morden FH C, PG, UC 52,000  New build
Wigan FH C, UC 42,700 Conversion
Paris- South Paris FH C, PG 55,000 New build
Paris- West 1 FH CE, STP 56,000 New build
Paris- West 3 FH CE, STP 58,000 New build
Paris- East 1 FH CE, STP 60,000 Conversion
Paris- North West 1 FH CE, STP 54,000 Conversion
Eastern Madrid FH C, PG 50,000 Conversion
Northern Barcelona FH C, PG 42,000 Conversion
South Barcelona FH C, PG 30,000 Conversion
Amersfoort- Netherlands FH CE, STP 58,000 New build
Almere- Netherlands FH C, STP 44,500 Conversion
Open 2024        
Redevelopments and Extensions        
New Developments        
London- Paddington Park West FH C, PG 13,000 Conversion, Satellite
London- Lea Bridge FH C, PG 76,500 New build
London- Romford FH C, STP 41,000 New build
Shoreham FH CE, STP 54,000 New build
South West Madrid FH CE, STP 46,800 Conversion
Southern Madrid 2 FH CE, STP 68,800 Conversion
Central Barcelona 2 LH CE, STP 24,700 Conversion
Amsterdam- Netherlands FH CE, STP 61,400 New build
Aalsmeer- Netherlands FH CE, STP 48,400 New build
Rotterdam- Netherlands FH CE, PG 71,000 New build
Opening Beyond 2024        
New Developments        
London- Old Kent Road FH C, STP 76,500 New build
London- Woodford FH CE, PG 76,000 New build
London- Bermondsey FH C, STP 50,000 New build
London- Walton FH C, STP 20,700 Conversion
Paris- La Défense FH C, STP 44,000 Mixed use facility
Total Pipeline MLA (let sq ft- million)     c.1.407  
Total Outstanding CAPEX (£’m)     c.146.0  


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

Acquisition of Your Room Self Storage, Christchurch2
In December 2021, Safestore acquired Your Room Self Storage in Christchurch, Dorset, for £2.45 million. The freehold Christchurch store has an MLA of 14,000 sq ft and the Group anticipates that the initial yield in the first year will be in excess of 6%.

The Group will rebrand the store and has taken over operation of the site with immediate effect. The store will operate as a satellite store to our two existing Bournemouth stores.

Acquisition of remaining 80% of Carlyle JV1
As announced on 31 March 2022, Safestore acquired the remaining 80% of the equity owned by Carlyle in the Joint Venture1 formed in 2019 (the “Joint Venture"). The total consideration paid to Carlyle was €67 million. The total initial cash outflow was €135.3 million and included the share purchase (€53.6 million), debt purchase (€13.4 million), and refinancing of the existing borrowings (€68.3 million) and was funded from the Group's existing loan facilities. The Joint Venture was acquired based on an enterprise value of €146 million.

The Joint Venture1 was set up in 2019 to acquire and develop assets in the Netherlands and Belgium in order to leverage Safestore's operating platform outside our core markets. Since then, the Joint Venture has grown to a portfolio of 55,000 sq m (600,000 sq ft) of MLA.

The portfolio is made up of 15 high quality properties (twelve freehold properties, two ground leases and one leasehold property). Nine properties are located in the Netherlands, six of which are concentrated in the Haarlem/Amsterdam area with additional properties in The Hague, Het Gooi and the recently opened Nijmegen store. In Belgium, two stores are located in the Brussels area, two in the city of Liege and further properties in Nivelles and Charleroi. Safestore has managed the properties since acquisition by the Joint Venture.

The Group's investment was marginally accretive to Group Earnings per Share in FY2021/22 and supports the Group's future dividend capacity. The expected initial yield based on total enterprise value was 3.9% which we expect to grow to Safestore's normal returns hurdles as the portfolio matures.

New Joint Venture with Carlyle and Investment in myStorage in Germany
Safestore has 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 0.09 sq ft of storage space per capita which compares to 0.76 sq ft in the UK, 0.24 sq ft in France, 0.24 sq ft in Spain, 0.60 sq ft in the Netherlands and 0.20 sq ft in Belgium. According to the 2022 FEDESSA report, there are just 320 facilities in Germany and 7.6m 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.

The occupancy of the portfolio is 67% with two of the stores having opened in 2021.

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.

Portfolio summary
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.95 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.

Our combined operations in London and Paris, with 78 stores, contributed £113.2 million of revenue and £82.3 million of store EBITDA for the financial year and offer a unique exposure to the two most attractive European self storage markets.

1 – On 30 March 2022, the Group acquired the remaining 80% of the Joint Venture with CERF. Prior to acquiring the 80%, the Joint Venture with CERF, which represented a 20% investment, was 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 enterprise value paid for Your Room Self Storage in Christchurch, Dorset, on 7 December 2021 was £2.45 million.
Subscribe to our email alerts
Find a store & Get a quote
Complete your quote

You’re almost done!

Complete your quote at