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Facility Spotlight: Dare Devil Storage of London

Elaine Foxwell Comments
Posted in Articles, Archive

WOULD ANYONE CONNECT A NAME LIKE RED DEVIL WITH SELF-STORAGE? Probably not. That is precisely why entrepreneurs Angus and Simon Burnett chose the name for their corporation. The name, along with its fiendish image, makes the company memorable. And there's no missing the glowing, 8-foot devil on the roof of the Red Devil Storage London headquarters, a former warehouse built around 1900.

Red Devil Storage is on the fast track to success. It opened its first facility in March 1998 and filled less than two months after opening. Today, that first facility remains 97 percent full, and the company has quickly followed with two other central-London facilities. The fourth facility, in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, has just been completed.

Red Devil Storage is part of holding company Eaton Securities, a private company involved with several industries. It is owned and operated by brothers Angus and Simon Burnett. The brothers follow the entrepreneurial footsteps of their father who, after selling his engineering yard on the Isle of Dogs, owned restaurants, petrol stations and car parks. Angus studied business at Manchester University, and Simon obtained a degree in art at the University of Reading, Berkshire.

"We see self-access storage as the area to expand out of the various others we are currently involved in," says Angus. "Our aim is impartial, professional advice to provide storage solutions to suit individual customer requirements."

The brothers' first venture into storage came almost by accident. One of their tenants, a self-storage operator, defaulted on his rent. The facility had been struggling to fill its 7,000- to 8,000-square-foot space it occupied in the brothers' basement car park in Princes Gate, Kennington. It took a great deal of work to make this site suitable.

"Kennington had been derelict for more than two years and was in a dreadful state of repair," says Angus. "We did a lot of power-blasting of walls, painting and making good. Once the partitioning system was in, it hid a lot." Then they focused on marketing the facility; but the building's excellent location almost sold the storage service by itself. "We concentrated on the locality and relied on walking around the area doing leaflet drops," Angus says.

The facility in Aylesbury was formerly a car showroom with a mechanics bay and spare-parts storage. Conversion included installing mezzanine flooring and changes to the existing structure. "It has worked very well," Angus says.

The facilities offer clean, secure storage, and removals and packaging supplies. Conveniently located, the facilities can be accessed seven days a week Patrons have access to archive, storage and wardrobe boxes; padlocks; tape; bubblewrap; racking; mattress, sofa and armchair covers; and a man and van to help move goods. Red Devil is also the agent for Teacrate PLC that makes plastic crates for rent or sale.

How have the Burnetts selected sites for each facility? "Location, location, location ... and price," says Angus. In addition to selecting a highly visible location that draws foot as well as drive-by traffic, marketing for the facilities is done through the Yellow Pages. Although there is strong competition for suitable sites for storage facilities, Red Devil has an ambitious agenda that includes plans to expand to 10 facilities.

Angus is excited about the self-storage industry and his own company. "It's a great business to be in, with good future-growth potential," he says. "You just need to have access to funds to drive it along as fast as you would like to."

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Eaton Securities PLC, a service-based property company, specializes in the operation of car parks and self-storage facilities. The company has four divisions:

  • Red Devil Storage
  • Basicgate, Cobrand Parkin, Hann Turner and Whitelans House Garage—limited car-park management companies
  • Hockmead Petrol
  • Red Devil Scooters

Eaton Securities is also involved in supplying management services to other car-park owners and owners of residential apartment blocks with limited parking.

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