Safestore, the self-storage group, saw like for like revenues rise 4.4% to £97.9m last year, according to its preliminary results this morning.
Its results for the year to 31 October 2014 showed pre-tax profits rose 7.8%% to £52.4m, compared to the previous year, while earnings per share is up 21.6% to 13.5p, and the final dividend leapt 36% to 5.30p.
The group’s Paris business also grew steadily, with revenue up 4.4% due to further improvement in occupancy rates with new lets at record levels. Frederic Vecchioli, Safestore’s chief executive, was also encouraged by early trading in the new financial year with new lets and rate trends continuing, and group revenue up 8.6% on the prior year (UK 10.7%; France 3.1%) in the two months to 31 December 2014.
Over the year new lets in the UK grew 19.8%, resulting from strong enquiries and improving conversion, with performance strengthening throughout the year. Pricing policy changes drove positive UK rate growth with trend improving from -7.4% in September 2013 to +4.8% in October 2014. Occupancy was up 17% over the year.
The group also managed to reduce its loan to value to 37%, as full year finance costs were reduced by £4.7m or 25.5%.
Vecchioli said: “I am pleased with the good progress we have made in driving operational improvements during the course of the year. Our industry leading web platform has driven 12% growth in UK enquiries and the sales team, at the same time as managing to increase the conversion rate of these enquiries, has also achieved an increase in pricing by reducing discounts. Our market leading business in Paris continues to perform well, recording its sixteenth year of uninterrupted revenue growth.
“The revenue performance has strengthened throughout the year and, combined with our continued focus on cost control and cash management, has resulted in cash tax adjusted earnings per share being ahead of consensus for the full year.
“As we enter the new financial year we remain focused on the long term opportunity of filling the 1.6m square feet of currently unlet space, the equivalent of 40 full stores. We will continue our strategy of driving the operational performance of the business whilst leveraging further our size and expertise in generating enquiries through the internet. We anticipate that the recent progress in the business and the renewed confidence of our sales team will continue to deliver further operational improvement as we enter the new financial year.”
Safestore shares rose 1.15% to 264p in early trading