Space Station – More Space, More Room 

Space Station, the British self-storage specialist, continues to expand despite challenging market conditions, remaining true to its core value of delivering service excellence.

While there are many self-storage companies, Space Station is a bit different – the company offers storage units in a range of sizes, for both short- and long-term hire, and stands out with its exceptional level of customer service and flexibility. Whether a customer needs a locker or an entire warehouse, Space Station’s team can find the right solution.

We spoke to company CEO Mr Prince last year and he affirms that the company’s core values remain unchanged. “Exceptional service is in our blood. Ensuring our standards are second-to-none is at the heart of everything we do, and our team works hard to make sure your experience with Space Station is something you’ll never forget.”

“Every unit is individually locked and selected units are alarmed with PIN code access and 24hr CCTV, and thanks to the free removal service, customers won’t have to lift a finger to transport their belongings to their chosen Space Station store.”

Unsurprisingly, the company boasts high client satisfaction, as summarised by one happy customer in February: “Probably the best customer service I have ever received! I have told so many people about them, I just wish every company were like this, as the world would be a better place. Just a really nice bunch of people, I know it is just storage space, but they have been great. Thanks so much to all involved.”

Proven resilience

Space Station was founded by former McClaren Formula 1 team manager Alastair Caldwell, way back in 1983. Inspired by the concept of self-storage during one of his trips to the US, he opened the first Space Station store in Colbrook in 1983.

The number of stores grew steadily over the following decades and today the company offers a wide selection of over 4,000 storage units, suitable for business or personal use, across its stores in London, Berkshire, Birmingham, and the Midlands. In 2023, the year of the company’s 40th anniversary, Space Station continues its expansion, unhindered by current market challenges.

While house movers are still the largest segment of Space Station’s customer base, the changes in mortgage rates have certainly been felt. “I anticipate that house moves by volume will be lower than they have been for the last couple of years. However, new business drivers emerge, such as e-commerce or new SMEs; self-storage is also an ideal solution for transition from a home-based business to a permanent location,” reflects Mr Prince.

He points out that the sector, a relatively new industry that only started up in the UK in the 1980s, tends to be very resilient. “Every year, the turnover of the industry has grown; there has been only one year that the industry took a step back financially in the UK, and that was in 2012 when Treasury imposed VAT on the sector. But generally speaking, self-storage is a robust sector, surviving the booms and busts of the economy very well.”

“So, although there may be some concerns about the drop in the housing market, there are new opportunities which we have utilised. We have increased our market share and continue to expand.”

People’s business

He affirms that ESG is ingrained in the company’s philosophy and Space Station is committed to being carbon neutral by 2030. “We’re well on our way to achieving Carbon Footprint Standard certification. Space Station uses wind and solar energy to power some of its sites and strives to use only 100% recycled packaging cardboard materials.”

The company is well aware of the importance of its most valuable asset, says Mr Prince. “People are always the key aspect of any business but it’s particularly true of my sector. We all build similar sheds; we all use the same contractors to fit them. And apart from a few different colours here and there, there is actually not a lot of physical difference between us. It is the people and their performance that make that difference.”

“We have great staff engagement and are well on track to a zero gender and gender pay gap. I am passionate about investment in people. It is quite tough getting a job working for us. We are very selective. We do data entry alphanumeric testing. We do behavioural profiling. We do intelligence assessments for all job roles, regardless. And by design, we deliberately recruited positive people.”

“We consider our amazing staff as family, and invest in their well-being, training and development to ensure they’re always able to deliver outstanding customer service.” He affirms that the “human touch” also applies to suppliers. “We have a policy for using local contractors and prefer-long term partnerships. Some of our suppliers have been our partners for a long time, such as Tuch Design, a graphic and brand design company we have worked with for almost twenty years, and Janus Security, a provider of security solutions.”

On the right track

The company takes great pride in its facilities, investing in and updating them regularly. This includes investment in the latest technology in line with customers’ expectations – keyless entry methods, as well as building in-house platforms to make use of data.

Mr Prince affirms that business development has been firmly supported by Heitman, Space Station’s owner. “Heitman, the biggest investor in self-storage in the world, acquired the company in the middle of the lockdown, a brave step, demonstrating their belief in the potential. They’ve continued to invest heavily, and they’ve backed any acquisitions that I’ve targeted since then.”

The company is launching three new sites imminently and is looking to further grow through acquisitions, warehouse re-development and new developments. Space Station’s teams conducted considerable research last year, taking developers on board, and have 11 trade sites under consideration.

“Despite the gloomy forecasts we are still expanding strongly,” Mr Prince points out. “Heitman has been robust in their enthusiasm for this sector and continues to invest in it. So, although I’m expecting this year to be a bit tougher than last year, I remain optimistic and am looking for further growth.”

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