Group First International (GFI), a Hong Kong-based distribution company that serves as the exclusive international marketing and sales representative of Store First, the storage brand of U.K.-based real estate developer Group First, is targeting potential self-storage investors outside the United Kingdom. GFI is a separately owned and managed company, according to the source.
The Store First model differs from traditional self-storage in that units or entire floors are sold to investors, often businesses, with full property title on a leasehold basis up to 999 years, according to the source. The minimum leasehold is 250 years, according to Group First, which typically handles the sub-lease renting and management of space on behalf of investors for an annual fee, the source reported.
“Being a property developer, Group First builds the storage facility, which contains the individual storage units, and then sells these units, through Store First, to investors, who can buy anything from a 25-square-foot space to an entire floor,” said James Young, chief operating officer for GFI.
An advantage to investors is not having to pay the British value-added tax because the purchase price per storage unit is below the £79,000 threshold for a business property. This enables them to rent storage units at a lesser rate than competitors, according to the source.
GFI is marketing the self-storage investment strategy to financial advisers, real estate companies and other financial intermediaries. Entities that already have a large presence in Store First storage properties include the British National Health Service (NHS). “The NHS has a floor in one of the properties, and British Gas has two floors, with a third pending," said Mike Starvis, GFI’s CEO. "Another Store First tenant is Monster Beverage.”
Behind the success of the Store First self-storage model, Group First is expanding the concept to long-term vehicle storage through a new division called Park First. GFI is in the process of securing international marketing and sales rights to Park First and other Group First products, according to the source.
Earlier this year, GFI changed its name from DV Global Capital Ltd.
Group First’s property portfolio includes residential, business, self-storage and vehicle storage assets. The company operates 11 Store First storage facilities in northwestern England and one in Scotland.