Big Yellow profits grow as it expands store estate

By Josh White

Date: Monday 22 Nov 2021

Big Yellow profits grow as it expands store estate

(Sharecast News) - Big Yellow Group reported revenue growth of 24% in its half-year results on Monday afternoon, to £81.8m.
The FTSE 250 storage company said like-for-like store revenue was ahead 15%, driven by gains in occupancy and an improvement in its average rate.

Cash flow from operating activities, after net finance costs, increased 22% for the six months ended 30 September to £51.8m, while the firm's adjusted profit before tax was 28% higher at £46.9m, with EPRA earnings per share up 23% to 25.7p.

The board declared an interim dividend of 20.6p per share, making for a year-on-year increase of 21%.

On the operational front, Big Yellow reported a like-for-like occupancy increase of 3.9 percentage points from 1 April, and of four percentage points from same time last year, to 91.3%.

The average net rent achieved per square foot at Big Yellow stores was ahead 5.4% year-on-year, while closing net rent was 9.7% firmer than at the end of September last year.

Its 54,000 square foot maximum lettable area location in Uxbridge opened at the end of June, with the board describing a "strong start", with current occupancy at 52%.

The company acquired new development sites in Kentish Town and West Kensington during the period, taking its pipeline to 14 development sites of around 1.12 million square feet, or 18.5% of its current maximum lettable area.

Planning consent was granted for new stores in Slough at 90,000 square feet, and in Newcastle at 60,000 square feet.

Nine of the firm's 14 sites now had planning, representing about 60% of the storage capacity of the pipeline.

Big Yellow placed 7.8 million shares in June, raising £97.6m net of expenses to fund the acquisition of the remaining interest in Armadillo, and the development site in West Kensington, with the combined transactions being earnings accretive.

Looking at its debt, Big Yellow agreed a £100m increase in its Aviva and M&G loans, raising its total debt capacity to £576.1m.

Current net debt stood at £397.4m, with available headroom of £178.7m.

"This first half performance has been very strong, which should flow through into the full year results, absent any material external factors," said executive chairman Nicholas Vetch.

"The self storage sector more generally, and Big Yellow specifically, has benefited from significant occupancy growth since the end of the first lockdown in late May 2020, with the sector now at historically high levels of occupancy.

"These levels of occupancy have been a key factor in driving earnings and increasing growth in net achieved rents."

Looking towards the next financial year, Vetch said the company expected the market to return to a "more normalised" trading environment.

"The increased capacity from the development programme is having a tangible positive impact on profitability, which we expect will continue as we grow our platform."

At 1629 GMT, shares in Big Yellow Group were down 2.08% at 1,553p.


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