By Dallas Dogger
While the self-storage industry is a mature asset class in North America, it’s only just emerging in China. One of the newest operators is Locker Locker, which launched this year in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, a major city north of Hong Kong with a population of more than 7 million. The company is the brainchild of Shenzhen business duo Charlotte Sun and Lawrence Yam, whose ambition is to be part of the pioneering group of entrepreneurs spearheading the launch of self-storage in the world’s most populous nation.
Locker Locker’s plan is to become a large operator with a chain of self-storage facilities in as many of China’s major cities and industrial zones as is practical and create brand recognition through the delivery of high-standard services. The company’s philosophy is quality and education. It believes that as it expands, consumer confidence will grow, as Chinese customers prefer larger companies with a good reputation. Locker Locker’s clear ambition is to give customers peace of mind.
An Idea Takes Shape
China's population is 1.35 billion, with a burgeoning middle-class estimated at close to 500 million and growing fast. The country will benefit from self-storage perhaps more than any other, and Locker Locker is at the forefront, creating affordable and convenient solutions to the age-old problem of insufficient space.
Canadian and British team members were brought in to assist in the development of Locker Locker. The owners set forth on a major fact-finding mission, including field trips to facilities in Canada, Europe, Hong Kong and the United Kingdom. They met with existing operators and construction companies on three continents, joining self-storage associations and educating themselves wherever they could.
Locker Locker’s first venture was not without challenges. As with all construction projects, team members had to research site options, undertake difficult negotiations with local officials, educate people about the concept, and overcome the perceived industry risks.