Willbox’s new expansion plan

In-Depth

Willbox, a UK container company, plans Southampton expansion, focusing on workshops, offices, and self-storage facilities, anticipating market growth.

Willbox, the UK-based container trading, conversion, storage, and hire company, is planning to expand operations at its site in Southampton next year. It plans to expand its workshop facilities, build a dedicated paint shop, and relocate its office buildings in a move designed to improve usage of the near two-acre site and expand its capacity to convert and store containers.

In an average year, Willbox takes delivery of between 3,000 and 4,000 containers, mainly secured through brokers to support its various activities.

Tom Williams, head of sales at Willbox, explained: “Conversions are a very important and growing part of our business, and we need to organize our space better so that we can improve our efficiency and increase our output. We’ve also outgrown our office accommodation as we have taken on more staff.”

Willbox undertakes a wide range of conversions on standard ISO containers in its workshop, with the containers being used for its own self-storage purposes and those of third parties.

In addition, it has secured several high-value and bespoke contracts, including cutting, fabricating, and equipping containers for use as offices, shelters for the homeless, cafes, kitchens, toilet blocks, home gyms, and various logistics and industrial applications, such as mini-warehouses and pump rooms.

Late last year, the company completed one of its biggest projects when it finished work on a new headquarters building capable of accommodating 50 staff and featuring offices, changing rooms with shower facilities, canteen, and conference/board room. Willbox converted 11 x 40ft containers for the structure, with over 95% of the work being undertaken in its own workshop.

“We then transported the containers to the site in the port of Southampton where they were welded together and final fabrication work, including the installation of a balcony, took place,” explained Ashleigh Wilkins, container conversions supervisor. “We completed the whole process in about four months, and we believe we have saved Solent Stevedores at least 40% of the cost of constructing a traditional bricks and mortar building.”

Willbox is also investing in its self-storage activities. At a neighboring site in Southampton, its wholly owned subsidiary Woodpecker Self Storage now has 300 units available for rent. Opened three years ago, Williams referred to the facility as having been “built from the ground up” and with “customers’ needs uppermost in our minds”.

The facility comprises mainly new 20ft containers on the ground with 20ft toppers above. Most units are multi-door, with the containers having been fitted with additional vents for more effective air circulation to avoid condensation.

In addition, the facility features an ablution block and said Williams “is constantly monitored by CCTV with motion sensors, infrared night vision cameras, number plate recognition system and a tannoy. Our priority is to ensure the site is attractive to visit, secure, safe and above all that our customers’ possessions are in good hands.”

He explained that Willbox’s experience and knowledge in the self-storage market had resulted in the group offering a suite of advisory and site design services to third parties interested in the sector. Williams sees this as a growing part of the business.

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