Self-storage disruptor launches in Liverpool aiming at redundant high street retail space

Richard Lanyon

The former Next store, on Liverpool’s main city centre Church Street, is the launchpad for a new self-storage business, StoreAway, which aims to transform more than a quarter of a million square feet of redundant retail space on the UK’s high streets.

StoreAway, which claims to be the first venture of its kind, will offer flexible storage space in city centres and urban settings.

Its first site is the former Next retail store on one of Liverpool’s busiest retail locations. StoreAway will take 40,000 sq ft across four floors of the building, above what will be a new Decathlon store.

StoreAway plans to launch 10-15 stores over the next three to five years and has already secured further sites in Birmingham, Basildon, Cheltenham and Bath, which will be unveiled over the next six months.

The new venture says its founders comprise the country’s only independent team of self-storage managers, as well as two experienced executives from the world of fund management and commercial property investment.

The self-storage sector continues to enjoy strong year-on-year growth with a 30% increase in profitability since 2013.

Joint managing director, Richard Lanyon, who has more than 30 years’ experience as a Chartered Surveyor with a UK property investment focus, said: “Prevailing property market dynamics, such as the demise of the traditional retail sector, has allowed us to take relatively abundant existing buildings, in commercially attractive locations, and convert them in order to meet self-storage operational needs.

“StoreAway plans to be disruptive in its UK operations by building up an underlying ‘added value’ operational real estate portfolio.”

He added: “Over the past decade, the self-storage sector has witnessed strong growth rates with demand outstripping supply.

“The COVID crisis has seen revenues, rates and occupancy all hold up proving its resilience. We believe that external trends, such as urbanisation, changing work practices and increased customer awareness will boost demand even further.”

StoreAway users will be able to take control of their storage needs via a smartphone app where they are able to book a space, arrange a drop-in time or visit their designated locker 24 hours a day, with the process also allowing shared access with friends and family.

There is also a measuring tool to quickly determine the storage solution that best suit peoples’ needs and save them paying for more space than they actually require.

Joint managing director Christian Yates, who was formerly CEO of Julius Baer in London and CEO International at Bear Stearns Asset Management, said: “We wanted to create a service that fits in with the modern lifestyle and that means there is no one size fits all approach – if the pandemic has taught us anything it’s that people are looking for flexibility and control over their own time, space and routines so that’s exactly what we’re giving them.

“The idea has been designed to fit for many demographics, whether that is tourists looking to drop off a suitcase for an hour, a family moving home and needing to store furniture as part of a long term solution, or a student trying to declutter their flat while they’re in university accommodation. Flexible lease options will allow people to determine what works for them.”

Click here to sign up to receive our new South West business news...