Although the industry originated in the United States, it was introduced to Russia decades ago by U.K. expats living in Moscow. It has since been implemented by Russian real estate developers, food-chain stores and other local entrepreneurs, attracting few Western players from Holland, Italy and the United Kingdom.
Most offer a typical Western self-storage facility: neat and clean premises, well-secured, heated and lit with 24/7 access. However, only two of the 10 operators are using solid fit-out material designed and manufactured in the U.K., mainly by Storage Future and Steel Storage. The rest use a local supplier.
More than 80 percent of the marketing budget is applied to Internet search engine optimization, and 70 percent of the clients are moving in after searching the Web for self-storage space. The rest are word-of-mouth and walk-in clients.
The latest demographic study by Safe Box shows customers come from as far as 12.5 miles from the facility. Such distances can take an hour or two in Moscow's traffic, which emphasizes the lack of nearby storage facilities and the strong need for them.
Despite the challenges, there is a largely unmet demand in the Russian self-storage industry. With a thriving Russian economy, it’s expected the self-storage industry in the country will expand at a rapid pace over the next several years.
Shakko Hen is the Russian partner and founder of Safe Box, which operates one facility in Moscow. He was educated in Canada, obtaining an MBA in business management. Hen speaks five languages including English and Russian, and is integral to the day-to-day operations of Safebox. Prior to joining the company, Hen was a sales manager for his family business, operating leather tanneries in Georgia, Italy and Russia. He’s also experienced in the philosophy, politics and culture of Russian business. For more information, visit www.safe-box.ru.
The chart and corresponding map offer a glimpse into the Russian self-storage market.