Gulf Business

Thinking beyond the box

Dubai-headquarte­red self-storage concept The Box has opened a sprawling state-of-the-art facility in JLT. Here’s how the company is disrupting the sector


Drop shipping and storage for influencer­s is something we are looking at as a lot of them start off in small spaces at home and soon need room to expand as they grow their audience

When Wadih Haddad offered a corner in his bedroom to store a few personal belongings of a friend, little did he know that he was on the cusp of a business idea that would grow exponentia­lly. When similar requests from acquaintan­ces started pouring in, and he ran out of space in his apartment, Haddad decided to learn about the self-storage industry and began to attend conference­s and seminars to learn more about the industry that he had no previous background within.

The result was him starting The Box in 2006 in Dubai to bridge the market for self-storage units in the emirate. As Haddad pointed out, at the time the minimum commitment for storage options was between 6-12 months and it wasn’t customised to serve non-industrial clients such as homeowners and small- and mediumsize­d business owners who required storage solutions. That’s the niche that The Box addressed, offering 16 sqft lockers all the way up to 1000 sqft mini-warehouses with flexible contracts starting from a month.

Over a decade-and-a-half into the business, The Box reached an inflection point in May this year when it opened a new multilevel storage facility in JLT, within the DMCC Free Zone.

The new 140,000 sqft climate-controlled, secured and 24-hour access storage space is spread across four floors, along with convenient drive-up units.

The constructi­on of the new facility has been made keeping in mind sustainabi­lity as well. “We are proud to unveil our new sustainabl­e mega facility equipped with solar panels that is strategica­lly located in the heart of Dubai serving major residentia­l and commercial areas such as Media City, Internet city, JLT, Emirates Living and Jumeirah Park. It has electric car charging stations, bicycle parking slots and we will also continue to plant a tree for every customer,” says Haddad.

“The new facility is the region’s first purpose-built storage facility with some of the highest standards when compared against self-storage facilities, not just here but also across most of Asia and Africa. We have also added a loading bay, drive up mini-warehouses, biometric entry and exit systems.”

Besides offering storage solutions, it will also offer open co-working spaces, a library, gym and an auditorium to serve as much more than just a warehouse.

The Box also offers national and internatio­nal relocation services. “The Box has expanded to include local moves, internatio­nal shipping, packaging, order fulfillmen­t and related services for both its commercial and personal clients, although the core focus still remains self-storage which constitute­s 80 per cent of the business,” notes Haddad.

Haddad says that The Box has 25 full time and 75 contract workers and has more than 200,000 sqft of net storage space on offer across all locations. “We’ve grown this completely organicall­y with the support of bank funding and some creative debt solutions like peer-topeer platforms. Our growth story didn’t involve any equity rounds. Oftentimes, entreprene­urs starting out think they need to raise funding, but it is possible in most cases to grow without diluting your position – and we are an example of that,” adds Haddad.

He reveals that the next steps would include The Box introducin­g safety deposit boxes facilities in Q4 this year. “Drop shipping and storage for influencer­s is something we are looking at as a lot of them start off in small spaces at home and soon need room to exapnd as they grow their audience,” says Haddad. And he knows that all too well.

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