Mapping the Market: UK Warehousing

Warehouse Heatmap via Stowga Data

We are all so used to being able to reach for our phone and instantly look up, book, buy or order pretty much anything we could ever want - and it’s all usually done through one seamless experience in a familiar and intuitive interface that has been beautifully designed.

That’s how life is now, so it’s odd when you can’t find or buy what you want. What’s even more odd is how we live in this ‘everything now’ world and then we encounter things that have not been touched by modernity - that somehow seem to have not moved on like everything else.

Nowhere is this more obvious than at work. Offices still have processes, equipment and systems that haven’t changed much since the 90’s - email, spreadsheets, letters, fax machines, pen and paper.

When people are so used to the seamless, slick experiences they have grown accustomed to with their phones it’s a wonder this hasn’t all moved on in every sphere of life. Obviously some sectors are more advanced than others, but in the sectors Stowga operates in - property and logistics - these industries are positively prehistoric!

The two industries are very similar - they are relationship-driven, word-of-mouth industries where the competitive advantage is knowledge. Knowledge that isn’t generally available. Knowledge that is gained through personal networks and experience. The knowledge is in people’s heads and there is no real incentive to share it because you lose your advantage. As a result the industry is incentivised to stay the way it is.

But things are changing and people are realising the change that has happened in other industries will inevitably effect all industries. Nobody can possibly store enough information in their head, and to get ahead of the curve you need to find other ways of getting a competitive advantage.

When we started Stowga one of the first things we did was set about mapping the market. We needed to size both the supply (the warehouses) and the demand (businesses who store goods). We thought it would be an easy job to map the supply - surely a quick Google search would bring up a list of different websites that would tell us how many warehouses there are in the UK?

We were very wrong….there wasn’t one. Not one place we could find this information.

So we rang every major player - all the big industrial agents, the industrial real estate funds big and small, the research houses, the membership bodies - no one could tell us how many warehouses there were in the UK. That information, we were told, simply didn’t exist in any coherent format. The problem is agents only research areas they can make fees on. Funds only know about their chosen field (big box, development, etc). Membership bodies only know who their members are.

So we thought we’d get the lists of everyone and build it ourselves.

The bulk of the information required to build that database is held by the government (for legal and tax reasons). It’s a huge amount of information held between the Valuations Office and the Land Registry, and it was our job to gather, clean and make sense of the data.

The Land Registry breaks out every property in the UK by it’s tittle number, and the Valuations Office classify the type. There are 14 different classifications for industrial, and that gave us a total of 184,928 industrial properties in the UK.

We then geocoded every site to visualise the distribution. The level of detail we went to is down to street level, but at a high level it looks like this:

So there we are - every industrial property in the UK mapped!

If you want to take a look at the detailed map look here. Each site has been geotagged as a red dot but you will notice as you zoom in the spots disappear….we’ve set a restriction on the zoom level to fade them out as that’s our IP. If you want to talking about buying the data, get in touch - but you’d better have deep pockets!

It’s 2.1 billion square foot which if you take £5 per square foot as a rental figure you are looking at a market worth £10.5bn in annual rent.

  • Rents range from £20 per square foot in Central London to £2.60 in Carlisle. Nationally, the average rent is £6.50.
  • Yields range from 10% in Sterling for a mid-quality shed to 4.5% for a prime site in West London. The average prime yield at the time of writing was 6.4%, the average nationally was 7.2%.
  • Price per pallet ranges from £5 in Heathrow to £1 in Pontypool. The average across the country is £1.85 per pallet per week. Outdoor it’s £0.50 per pallet.

These numbers are just the tip of the iceberg. We think the work we’ve done is the most comprehensive survey of the UK warehouse market to have ever been done. Here we’re just scratching the surface. If you would like further information please do not hesitate to contact - we’d love to hear from you: