The unexpected beneficiaries of the current crisis turned out to be operators of temporary storage warehouses: both entrepreneurs who remained with a large stock of goods and citizens locked in self-isolation transported things to them. As a result, companies from the industry were able to increase revenue by 10-20% amid the pandemic
"Sales in April increased by 15% compared to March," - Sergey Zhuravlev, the head of the Prostor individual storage warehouse in St. Petersburg with an area of 2500 sq. M., Cites statistics, surprising for the period of the coronavirus pandemic. m. His company, which in June expects the opening of the third stage and expansion to 5500 sq. m, is just one of the market representatives that unexpectedly benefited from the crisis.
The pandemic, which hit hard even on the "kings of real estate", had a positive effect on the business of operators of the so-called self storage warehouses - spaces divided into individually rented cells. Forbes' revenue growth was also confirmed by the leaders of the Moscow market, which together account for about a quarter of such warehouses in the capital - Homestore services (17,000 sq. M.), City-Box (20,000 sq. M.), Kyubi and "Attic".
The latter increased the flow of new customers in the "pandemic" months by 30%.
“Revenue in May grew by 20% versus March,” says Merdan Durdymuradov, co-founder of Attic, which has attracted $ 2 million in investments in two years of operation.
Yuri Shishmarev, CEO of City-Box, confirms that "the demand for individual storage warehouses has increased in general." According to him, “the increased demand was influenced by the changed business environment”.
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Revenue "Kyuubi" in May in relation to March also increased - by 10%, says a service representative.
Rising in price "squares"
According to the consulting company Knight Frank and the Association of Individual Storage Companies (ACIH), at the end of 2019, the total area of individual storage warehouses in Moscow amounted to about 200,000 sq. m. According to the calculations of Colliers analysts, in 2019 the segment grew by 20% compared to 2018.
However, its share in the entire warehouse real estate market remains insignificant. Warehouses of all types in the Moscow region occupy about 15 million square meters. m, in St. Petersburg - about 3.5 million sq. m.
“That is, [self storage warehouses] are tenths of a percent of the market,” explains Konstantin Fomichenko, director of the warehouse real estate department at Knight Frank.
Rental rates, according to Colliers, are growing: now 1 sq. m costs 1,500-1900 rubles a month - it comes out on average 20,400 rubles a year. For comparison: a "square" of an ordinary class A warehouse will cost only 3900 rubles per year.
Warehouses for individual storage accept things from both individuals and legal entities. Since the segment is relatively new, the business model was initially built with a focus on Internet services. Self storage services offer customers storage space either by subscription for a month or by paying for a "box" of a certain size. The client orders the removal of things on the website (self-on-demand) or brings them on their own through a third-party courier service, having previously concluded an online contract (classic self storage). In the first case, delivery, packing and return of things is usually carried out by a special employee - the so-called mover. Payment for his labor is included in the cost of the service.
“Everything works online, people can enter and leave [the warehouse] without the participation of administrators, so we do not experience significant difficulties in the sales area,” explains Zhuravlev from Prostor.
During the period of self-isolation on the territory of the St. Petersburg warehouse there were only security and cleaning specialists, and the conclusion of contracts and access to the boxes took place remotely through a personal account on the website or by phone.
Apartment in stock
Who are the clients, thanks to whom the warehouses report the growth of revenue? First, these are tenants who have moved out of their offices. “There is a wave of new customers who are placing office furniture for storage after the abandonment of rented space in business centers,” says Dmitry Mayer, General Director of Homestore. His colleagues from Prostor, Attic, City-Box and Kyuubi drew attention to the same group of clients.
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According to Merdan Durdymuradov, those who plan to return to the office, but decided to significantly reduce the area of the premises, also contacted his service. Such customers subscribe for a longer period. “In the first half of May, 50% of clients were office tenants,” Sergei Zhuravlev from Prostor cites his data.
Some entrepreneurs decided to leave their equipment and supplies in self storage. “If earlier they were purchased for a month, now - for 3-4 months in advance, and we kept the excess,” explains Durdymuradov. He cites the example of cleaning companies and tailoring businesses that bought detergents and fabrics in advance.
Added clients and closed
there are malls. “We are surrounded by shopping centers, people started to move out of there and switched to online sales, they needed to store their stock somewhere, and they turned to us,” Zhuravlev says.
The second group is individual clients. “As usual, people plan repairs and relocations, including summer cottages, for a warm season. The self-isolation regime prompted many to decide to undertake repairs, which had been delayed for a long time, ”says Mayer.
According to Zhuravlev, "since the beginning of April, the wave of new clients consisted of those who settled at home and began to sort out the trash."
But there are also people affected by the crisis who lost their jobs in Moscow or St. Petersburg, could not pay for rented housing and were forced to return to their hometown. These clients rent out entire "apartments" and "rooms" for warehouses, market participants say.
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It cannot be said that the self storage segment did not notice the crisis. For example, the representatives of Home Warehouse were asked by tenants to lower the rental rate or delay payments - each request was considered on an individual basis.
At Prostor, the number of congresses in the "pandemic" months was 10% more than usual. And the revenue, which increased by 15% in April, decreased by 40% in May - also in relation to March. Sergey Zhuravlev explains this by a seasonal factor - the May holidays.
Less than 5% of existing clients refused services of "Cherdak" during the crisis period, revenue grew in May, but still "the expectations of the season due to the pandemic did not come true," says Merdan Durdymuradov.
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Among his colleagues from Kyuubi, "the growth of revenue month on month due to quarantine has slowed down somewhat," says Mikhail Semenov, co-founder of the service. According to him, this is partly also due to the seasonality: “In winter, we store verandas, bicycles, in the spring everyone starts to take them away. At the same time, in the spring, they begin to make repairs, and we have more such clients. " In general, spring, according to the entrepreneur, is "usually a growing season." “We had some seasonal outflow, but we completely blocked it due to the influx of new customers and plan to re-enter the revenue growth rate of 15-20% month on month,” concludes Semenov.
Despite the challenges, self storage operators continue to evolve. Prostor, in which Jensen Group invested 1.5 billion rubles in 2019, plans to open the third stage of the complex on June 15 and increase the total warehouse area to 5500 sq. m. "Homestore" by the end of 2020 will open two additional Storage Centers with an area of 9,200 sq. m (the total area will increase to 26,000 sq. m.) and plans to increase revenue for the year to 202.9 million rubles (excluding VAT, in 2019 it was 171.6 million rubles).
And "Kyuubi" in April, in the midst of a pandemic, even attracted 6 million rubles from the Yellow Rockets fund (the total amount of funds raised in the company is not disclosed). “The attraction of the round was planned back in December 2019, and the quarantine did not affect this process in any way,” explains Karina Lvova, co-founder of the service.