The second Self Storage Expo Asia was held in Hong Kong on 26-27 March 2014 following the launch of the Association last year. The Conference was host to more than 120 people from Asia and Japan and also included attendees from as far afield as Canada, the US, India, Bahrain, Europe and South America. Australia was also well represented.
The Conference heard from experts in several fields covering insurance, self storage performance, ‘the big transactions for 2013’, maximising returns, online marketing, the online management and administration of self storage and an overview of what’s happening in the USA.
In addition, Simone Hill (Australian SSAA Legal Counsel) reiterated the qualities of and necessity for a strong storage Agreement that can operate throughout the region’s diverse commercial, legal and social backgrounds. Such quality and clarity was reinforced by Carolyn Bigg from Simmons & Simmons Hong Kong, Simone’s counterpart in the region.
One of the many fascinating presentations was the industry panel facilitated by Rennie Schafer, (former CEO of the Australasian Association and now CEO of the UK SSA).
As part of the panel I took part in discussions regarding valuation issues and property ownership and occupancy differences self storage faces within the Region compared to the typical ‘western’, freehold going concern concept we all know well here in Australia.
For example, Hong Kong illustrates a ‘vertical’ market in high-rise buildings with small net lettable area facilities. These facilities are generally located (individually) on upper level floors in buildings shared with other tenants and occupy space under the terms of short-term leases of 2 years or thereabouts, with average unit sizes much lower than those seen in our country. The vast majority of self storage facilities are leasehold, with very few held freehold. The cost of living and leasing residential apartments is such that renting self storage space to store clothing or every day goods is very affordable.
A sense of excitement and vibrancy at the conference was noticeable. The sense of opportunity is obvious however participants must be very well informed and very well prepared before attempting any development. Such a situation absolutely underlines the importance of a well constructed, strongly supported and highly professional association.
The Australasian SSAA provided initial advice and support to the nascent organisation in Singapore and Hong Kong in 2008, especially regarding legal issues. Ben Williams at Storman and I were part of those early meetings. The Self Storage Association of Asia (the other SSAA!) has built upon those initial meetings and with the direct assistance of its major sponsor, Steel Storage, has started in earnest to replicate the best of what the SSAA initially provided.
A Board has now been created, local legal advice obtained and a full-time Executive Director appointed to drive the Association forward into the future. Watch this space!