On 2 June 2020, Hong Kong Economic Times featured their interview with Simon Tyrrell, CEO of RedBox Mini Storage, on how the company managed to expand business against Covid-19 by targeting small and medium-sized enterprises users.
The interview also touches upon RedBox Storage‘s newly developed fire safety unit following the Amoycan Industrial Centre fire in 2016. After long-term testing, the fire safety unit now adequality satisfies all necessary fireproofing performance requirements.
Read the translated article content below to learn more about the interview:
Despite Covid-19, some industries maintain a steady growth. RedBox Storage is one local company that has been less affected by Covid-19 and is looking to expand business by recruiting more SME customers.
Neither local or global businesses and economies will inevitably be impacted by the coronavirus. Simon Tyrrell, Chief Executive Officer of RedBox Storage Limited has been keeping his chin up. “In general, the storage business is not affected a lot by the ups and downs of economic cycles. As local demand in storage space is huge, our storage business was not largely impacted by Covid-19, although revenue growth is less than expected, we are still doing well,” he said.
Temporary equipment storage with large demand from SMEs
The storage business did not drop along with the economy and received quite a few enquiries. Simon mentioned that individual customers make up 78% of the customer base, with the remaining 22% being SMEs. “In terms of
individual customers, as most countries are locked down and the tourism industry has been put on hold, quite a lot of customers are keeping their suitcases in our storage buildings.” He added that customers are worried about going out, so most chose the door-to-door service to send over their storage items.
Simon noted that there has been a change in the type of SME customers contacting RedBox during Covid-19. “Most SME customers were seasonal, as some of them have to wait for certain festivals to sell their stock. Recently, we saw an increase in corporate customers who were looking for space to store financial and legal documents as they had to work from home. Also, due to office closures, corporate customers had to move their office equipment to storage until the office or retail store reopens.”
Before the pandemic, Simon anticipated revenue growth would reach 25% this year. “Although Covid-19 has had limited impact on us, we will reduce our revenue growth forecast to 20%. To meet this goal, we will continue to
focus on attracting SME customers and rely on the marketing and sales department to promote our brand through online channels.”
A space with great lighting and surroundings
Most storage buildings are located in industrial buildings with a plenty of space but quite a lot of problems. Simon noted that customers still have an image of mini storage as being a “dirty and crowded warehouse”. He said, “We are keen to rebrand mini-storage warehouse by creating bright and spacious designs in our storage spaces.”
Simon added that the interior work for mini-storage has to comply with government standards. For example, a distance not less than 2.4 metres is required between storage units. The distance between storage units and the
ceiling should be a minimum of 1 metre, with the height of each storage unit not exceeding 2.35 metres.
With a total space of over 500,000 square feet, Redbox Storage has five stores across Sha Tin, Chai Wan, Yau Tong, Tuen Mun and Tsuen Wan. “Our total storage space grew by five-fold in the past three years, with our current utilization rate at 53%, we believe there will be more customers looking to use them.”
Simon is positive about the storage business, he said, “Although the current socioeconomic atmosphere is gloomy, we hope to expand against the headwind. In the future, apart from maintaining a steady growth, if there are any suitable storage companies looking for an M&A, we are interested in looking for complementary opportunities.” He also mentioned that, RedBox is looking to open a store in the south of Hong Kong Island close to an MTR station that is convenient for customers.
Due to the limited space in Hong Kong, there are many local storage companies in the city. However, the Amoycan Industrial Centre fire in 2016, which started in a self-storage facility, caused both the industry and the community to focus on the safety of mini-storage facilities.
Simon Tyrrell, Chief Executive Officer of a local storage company RedBox, said all their mini warehouses were in compliance with the Potential Fire Hazards in Mini-Storages and Related Abatement Measures issued by Hong
Kong’s Fire Services Department. For example: “The total area of unobstructed and breakable windows (including “access windows”) should not be less than 1/16 (or 6.25%) of the total floor area of the mini-storage. It should not be too high or too low, so if a fire is burning, firefighters or other people can climb in and out quickly. The windows also can’t be too low to prevent people accidently falling out.”
In addition, the company has developed a “fire safety unit”. Tyrrell said that the fire safety unit was designed and developed by their company and built by a mainland Chinese factory. After repeating tests of its fireproofing performance several times, it was then shipped to Hong Kong.
He explained, “In addition to the quality of the fireproof board used [to make the fire safety unit], the joints are even more important. Sometimes, the fireproof board passed the test, but if the joint is not right that can also cause danger. Therefore, the fire safety unit will only be certified to use after a long testing time.”
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