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French Storage Scene Shifts 

The self-storage landscape in France has undergone several changes in recent months, reports Inside Self Storage correspondent Philippe Peyrot, president of Annexx SAS, a self-storage company in the South of France:

  • Armadillo (www.armadillostockage.fr) bought seven former Access sites from Une Pièce en Plus (www.unepieceenplus.fr) in Paris, Lyon and Cannes.
  • Shurgard, in anticipation of a projected sale in spring, enriched its portfolio by buying Box Avenue’s (www.boxavenue.fr) 10 facilities. Shurgard now has 49 sites in France, accounting for 37 percent of the market.
  • Devon (www.devon-europe.com) is for sale. Two sites (Toulouse and Lyon) are expected to be purchased by Homebox, and the facility in Marseille to be bought by Shurgard. As of press time, the buyer for Devon’s German sites was projected to be Lagerbox (www.lagerbox.info).
  • Homebox (www.homebox.fr), which has shown little activity in the last three years, has a new expansion plan. The company seeks to acquire several sites in the south of France.

MiniCo Facility Opens in Hong Kong 

Arizona-based MiniCo Inc. opened a second self-storage facility in Hong Kong in January. The 65,000-square-foot new MiniCo Self-Storage facility is in Chai Wan; the original store was founded in 2002 in Kwun Tong. The company chose Hong Kong as its first international location to introduce the concept of professionally managed self-storage services, according to the company. MiniCo Inc. is known in the United States as a supplier of insurance, products and publications for the self-storage industry.

Big Yellow Looks Rosy 

Big Yellow Group reported a rise in quarterly profit after it bought five new facilities, according to London Sharecast. The U.K.-based self-storage company said turnover for the quarter ending Dec. 31, 2005, was £10.8 million. That’s a 23 percent rise from the same quarter last year. “We opened a 53,000-square-foot store in North Kensington on Dec.12, and initial trading has been encouraging. We expect to open our new store in central Bristol in March 2006, which will be our fifth opening this financial year,” said a company statement.

U.K. Tenants Escape to Units 

Many British people are discovering the beauty of self-storage units, not always for storage, but as a destination, according to articles by the Telegraph and The Observer.

“Warehouse managers” described several offbeat uses for the United Kingdom’s relatively new storage phenomenon, including: A man who practices the flute during lunchtime in his unit; a son who stores only his mother’s ashes and an armchair, which he visits every evening for an hour; couples having illicit trysts; a football team using a large unit as a gym; a man who soundproofed his space to use as a recording studio; a man who sits in his unit drinking the wine he stores there (unbeknownst to his wife); and wives hiding “racy shopping” from their husbands.

Climate-control, 24-hour access, and swipe-card security are believed to contribute to the allure of clean and quiet self-storage units in a country with infamously small homes, reported the Telegraph. The article claims the first storage facility opened in the United Kingdom about 12 years ago, contrary to insider industry estimates of 26 years.


Storage King Takes Over Vacant Space 

Kent-based Storage King of the United Kingdom signed a long-term leasehold for a North-East property recently acquired by Fast-Track Investments of Birmingham. The 70,000 square-foot building on Kingway North had been occupied by Tool Trade, which rented only 6,000 square feet at the time of sale. Fasttrack is continuing to look for similar commercial property in the area, maintaining that “with the right tenant, rental incomes are guaranteed.”

Flexistore co-founders Martin Chalmers (left) and Keith Grant introduced the mobile-storage concept to Britain.

Flexistore Expands to London 

Scotland-based Flexistore, the United Kingdom’s leading mobile self-storage operator, opened its first London center in March. The 85-foot-high facility is one of the tallest industrial buildings in the city, and has the capacity for 3,200 storage units. The new store enjoys a prominent location within a retail park and is highly visible from one of London’s main arterial routes. The new site brings the company’s total number of U.K. storage centers to four; others are in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Manchester.
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