Look around any trade park in the UK, and you're bound to spot a business with stock overflowing out of its shutter doors.

Industrial units are two a penny currently with many that were built after the millennium, now being knocked down and replaced already. However, the recent trend of knocking down disused 1960s era factories and run-down post WW2 business properties to build space-age, new trade parks has left many businesses needing more space. These new gleaming aluminium cubes with electric roller shutter doors have become a staple of the medium-sized companies in the UK over the last ten years, providing safe, secure, modern business units that are also welcoming to customers. Some of these units in trade parks also provide businesses with a retail counter, meaning they no longer need a shop on the high street. The downside of this trend, though, is that many find they struggle for space due to a reduction in the sizes of the property since the 1990s. Where a developer would once have built ten industrial units on a site, he now looks at fifteen or even more. This maximisation of the property footprint has left many medium-sized businesses in a squeeze for space.

Which businesses use these units?

Who rents these units? A look at the local trade estate near me reveals a real mix of business types:

  • Car spare parts
  • Homebrew supplier – beer and wine
  • Exhaust and tyre fitters
  • Screws and nails for fixing things (you know who I mean)
  • Electrical supplies
  • Painting & Decorating Supplies

At least two of these businesses had stock just outside the loading bay doors, as they struggle for storage space. It could be that they have seasonal stock in the unit, which causes a squeeze two or three times a year. Alternatively, perhaps business is right for them at the moment, and although they haven't expanded to the extent that they need bigger premises, they are struggling for space.

The self-storage boom

This is where the self-storage industry comes into the picture. Over the last twenty years, the UK – especially in the South East – has seen an explosion of self-storage. On the edge of nearly every town and city is a brightly coloured self-storage facility. It's one of the fastest-growing industries in the UK, and small to medium-sized businesses have been quick to use them to their advantage. Storage companies offer businesses storage space with a minimum of hassle and commitment. Small and medium companies are finding that these storage facilities can give them storage space without having to sign a long-lease that ties them into a deal for up to a year or more! Some of the prominent attractions to a small or medium-sized business are:

  • Short term commitment – a minimum period of 7 days
  • Free fork lifting and receipt of goods and pallets
  • Only pay for the space you need – 25 to 1,000 square foot available
  • No utility bill, rates or security costs

Imagine a service enabling a business to expand its stock as required for perhaps even just a week! Seasonal stock issues could become a problem of the past for companies as they use the services of their local storage company to their advantage. Costs can be kept to the minimum by only using self-storage space when needed, rather than renting a warehouse on a long-term lease.

The self-storage boom looks set to continue at least for the moment, and this can only help businesses who are struggling for space.


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