Much like in the United States, construction of new self-storage facilities has slowed considerably. Only 10 percent of U.K. operators are expected to open more than one new store before 2014, according to the SSA-UK report.
Still, some established operators and new investors are breaking ground on new facilities. The Self Storage Company celebrated the grand opening of its first facility in Waltham Abbey in October. The facility is the first of 15 the company plans to open in the United Kingdom.
Big Yellow Group opened two stores in 2011, one in Eltham and another in Stockport. Development is underway for new facilities in New Cross and Chiswick, slated to open in February and May, respectively. Development of the Chiswick facility, which will total 75,000 square feet, is expected to cost £10 million.
Another self-storage company, B.E. Webbe, is also in development mode. The company converted an empty factory in Sutton into a 17,000-square-foot self-storage facility last fall. The £1.2 million conversion included removing the asbestos roof and adding new columns to support a new roof. A mezzanine floor and loading bays were also added. Other changes include new offices, kitchen and toilets. A second phase to add another 17,000 square feet is scheduled for next year.
Safestore has opened 14 stores in the last three years, with new stores at Crystal Palace, Bolton, Southend, Barking and New Southgate opening in the last 15 months. “We remain confident about growth prospects in the market and have recently submitted planning applications on two sites—Wandsworth and Birmingham—showing our commitment to growth and providing new facilities that will meet this increasing demand,” says David Cox, head of marketing.
Although the industry will unlikely see the rapid development growth it experienced from 2006 to 2008 when 119 facilities opened, gradual increases in occupancy and rental rates are on the horizon.
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