New self-storage operator sets its sights on Swindon’s former Debenhams

By Anita Jaynes on 14 July, 2022

Swindon could soon be welcoming a new state-of-the-art storage hub in the town’s former Debenhams store.

Plans have been submitted in a joint application by the current owners Meadow Partners and inner-city self-storage operator StoreAway, which would see the 200,000 sq. ft space transformed into the home of 900 lockers. The site has remained vacant since December 2020.

The acquisition would be part of a UK drive to transform more than a quarter of a million sq. ft of redundant retail space on the UK’s high streets into storage space.

Work would begin in the landmark building’s lower three storeys and basement as early as Spring 2023, with the StoreAway team keen to preserve the retail element to the ground floor frontage to coincide with the storage element of the new offering. The building was built in the mid 1960s as part of the Parade Shopping Centre on Fleming Way and originally housed Bon Marche with Debenhams occupying later.

The brand’s founders comprise the country’s only independent team of self-storage managers, as well as two experienced executives from the world of fund management and commercial property investment.

Joint managing director Richard Lanyon, who has more than 30 years’ experience as a Chartered Surveyor with a UK property investment focus, said, “We really want to make this building a part of our nationwide strategy, especially at such an important time in the town’s regeneration. The store is situated in an extremely important location, linking Kimmerfields to the town centre, and is adjacent to the new bus boulevard and opposite a recently agreed 400 apartment housing development. 

“StoreAway looks exclusively at large redundant office and retail spaces in the hope of bringing them back into use sustainably, whilst providing a necessary service to the public whilst often within walking distance of its customers. We know that our offering would be of particular benefit to the local community and businesses alike – it’s an idea inclusive of all demographics, from those moving house and needing a place for their furniture, companies requiring extra stockroom space or individuals on the lookout for a place to store their clutter.”

StoreAway opened its flagship store in May in a 36,000 sq. ft former department space in the heart of Liverpool’s popular shopping district Liverpool ONE and has confirmed further sites in Birmingham, Basildon, Cheltenham and Bath, which will launch over the next few months.  

Managing Director of StoreAway, Christian Yates added, “Town and city centre self-storage is a distinct convenience for city dwellers and city centre businesses, providing flexible storage space that can be easily accessed on foot with the majority of our client base normally within 10-15 mins from the store. This will directly support those living in the local residential development nearby. 

“The flexible space aspect will be attractive to local businesses and tradespeople especially start-ups who are not in a position to commit to long term leases and who need flexible, convenient space to store samples, stock, records, files and equipment. For retailers in particular, inner city self-storage is also increasingly forming part of the ‘last mile’ logistics distribution process.”

StoreAway users will be able to take control of their storage needs via a smartphone app where they are able to book a space, arrange a drop-in time or visit their designated locker 24 hours a day, with the process also allowing shared access with friends and family.

There is also a measuring tool to quickly determine the storage solution that best suit peoples’ needs and save them paying for more space than they actually require.

Christian continued, “We really did want to create a service that fits in with the modern lifestyle and that means there is no one size fits all approach – if the pandemic has taught us anything it’s that people are looking for flexibility and control over their own time, space and routines so that’s exactly what we’re giving them.”