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Storage

Latest Safestore Half Year Report

22nd June 2020

Highlights:
 
COVID-19:
  • Health, safety and well-being of our employees and customers of paramount importance.
  • No plans to access UK government's COVID-19 related support schemes.
  • Plans to revert to full operations implemented with full observation of social distancing rules and protective personal equipment provided to employees. 
Solid Financial Performance:
  •  Group revenue up 8.5%.
  •  Group like for like UK revenue up 5.8% and Paris up 5.9%.
  •  7.3% increase in the interim dividend to 5.9p 
  •  Profit before tax up to £99.7m from £38.2m in 2019, driven by increased gain on investment properties of £64.0m. 
Operational and Strategic Progress:
  •  Like for like average occupancy for the period up 3.7%.
  •  Like for like average storage rate for the period up 2.1%. 
  •  Like for like closing occupancy of 72.7%. 
Since the easing of lockdowns in our various geographies:
  • Enquiries, new lets and occupancy back above pre-lockdown levels and up year on year in Paris and Barcelona on a like for like basis. 
  • Enquiries in the UK are now back to pre-lockdown levels and up year on year with occupancy improving since the period end.
  • 40,000 sq ft freehold store at Carshalton and 38,000 sq ft long leasehold (130 years) store in Gateshead opened in the period.
  • Further new store openings scheduled for Sheffield in June 2020 and Paris Magenta in early 2021.
  • New 15 year lease signed on Notting Hill store.
  • Extensions of Bedford, Barking and Chingford stores, adding 37,000 sq ft, to be completed by September 2020.
  • Development site in Bermondsey acquired during the period.
  • Acquisition of Fort Box Self Storage (two London stores) on 5 November 2019 for £14.3m.
  • On 30 December 2019 the Group entered the Spanish self storage market with the acquisition of OMB Self Storage SL trading as OhMyBox (4 stores in Barcelona) for €17.25m.
  • Acquired businesses in the Netherlands and Barcelona successfully transferred on to Safestore's global marketing platform with immediate cost and enquiries benefits.  
  • Joint venture with Carlyle acquired Lokabox in Belgium (six prime locations in Brussels (2), Liege (2), Charleroi and Nivelles) in June 2020.   
Frederic Vecchioli, Safestore's Chief Executive Officer, commented:
 
"I am pleased to report a strong performance in a period which included the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the last three months, our priority has been the health and well being of our customers and colleagues. We have continued to operate our stores in all geographies in line with government guidance with restricted opening hours and minimal contact between staff and customers. As lock down measures have relaxed, we have moved towards fuller operational practices, providing personal protective equipment to employees and adhering to government guidance on social distancing measures. As expected, our business is demonstrating the inherent resilience of the model. 
 
"We have made good strategic progress in the first half of the year including acquiring two stores in London and four in Barcelona along with a development site in Bermondsey (London). In addition, we have opened new stores in Carshalton London and Gateshead. During the coming months we expect to open new stores in Sheffield and Magenta (Paris) as well as complete store extensions in Barking, Bedford and Chingford. Our joint venture with Carlyle is progressing well and added the Lokabox portfolio of six stores in Belgium to its portfolio in June 2020.
 
"We believe the resilient characteristics of the self storage industry, together with our leading market positions across the UK and Paris, place the business in a strong position to withstand the economic uncertainty arising from COVID-19. Safestore's scale continues to allow us to invest in our digital marketing platforms and service proposition and this remains a key competitive advantage in a fragmented industry. Our balance sheet remains strong and efficient, with a low cost of debt, £158m of available bank facilities, significant covenant headroom and no imminent refinancing required. This financing capacity, combined with the strong free cash generation of the business, allows us to continue to target selected development and acquisition opportunities. 
 
"Finally, I would like to thank all of our colleagues in the UK, Paris, Barcelona and the Netherlands, for their resilience, adaptability and positive response to the challenges presented by the COVID-19 crisis."