Attic at the Self Storage Conference in London
Attic Self Storage sent two representatives to the European Self Storage Conference organised by the Self Storage Association of the UK on behalf of FEDESSA. Frederic de Ryckman de Betz, Founder and Managing Director of Attic Self Storage, attended on both days together with investor Mark Toomey.
The conference took place at the Etc. Venue at St Pauls, 1 London Wall. Having played a significant part in organising the conference, Frederic said “we were very keen to bring the conference to London. Looking back, we couldn’t quite believe it had been 13 years since the FEDESSA conference was last held in England, in spite of the number of operators and suppliers based in the country. In addition, the number of British operators attending the conference has been in decline, exacerbated by the financial crisis and so we felt London 2013 was the perfect opportunity to reverse this trend.”
London 2013 turned out to be a huge success. At the European Self Storage Conference in Budapest in 2012, there were a total of c.240 delegates, including 70 supplier members and exhibitors. London featured an all out record crowd, with over 330 operator members alone, who’s numbers were boosted by 80 supplier members to take the total past the 420 mark for the first time in the history of the conference. The trade supplier space was sold out, as were operator tickets.
On the evening of the first day, a treat was in store for all with a memorable trip along the Thames in the luxurious Silver Sturgeon. With a successfull summer behind the team at Attic in Bow, Frederic felt they deserved a treat and the entire team was present for the evening, enjoying food by Jamie Oliver (especially those icre cream cones!!) and spectacular views of London, while networking and hobnobbing with the great and good of the self storage industry.
Day Two saw Frederic asked to join the independent operator’s panel, in an hour long session during which members of the audience were invited to pose any manner of questions to the panellists. Frederic was joined by Wolfgang Kohnk (Pickens Self Storage, Germany); David Milton from ABC Self Store and Philippe Peyrot from Annexx France. The panel represented a cross section of British and European Self Storage operators, ranging from the small (Attic only has one site) to the medium sized (Annexx has a dozen). All operators were relatively new and had enjoyed a period of successfull growth in spite of the financial crisis.
Questions ranged from concerns over the impact of aggregator sites on the self storage industry, through the usual questions on finance and site selection as well as work life balance and the challenges faced by all independent operators in the industry. Mark Toomey filmed a portion of the panel session and we will work to upload this in the next few weeks.
The programme for the conference was packed full of interesting speakers including Richard Farleigh, formerly of Dragons Den fame on BBC 2 and BJ Cunningham, entrepreneur extraordinaire who coined the “Death Cigarettes” concept and fought many battles with entrenched interests to launch his business. The major operators of course also offered a panel session although with a number of them being listed companies, the responses were a little less direct than those on the independent operators panel. Marie Horkan from Google provided some insights into digital marketing trends while Rennie Schafer reminded us all that traditional marketing thoughts should never be forgotten. The eminent economist Dennis Turner provided some welcome news on the macro economic front for most of the audience (perhaps the Europeans were less enthralled!) and Kenny Pratt spent some time reminding us all about the basics of selling self storage.
The conference was brought to an end in the spectacular setting of the Museum of London, with conference goers given the chance to view the exhibits before sitting down for the awards ceremony. Surrounded by exhibits detailing London’s magnificent history, the conference was brought to a close with a sumptuous banquet and good cheer. Bring on Stockholm 2014!