Super sheds built across UK as online retail boom sparks warehouse demand

Almost 15 million sq ft of new super sheds were built in England and Wales in 2020.

Henry Saker-Clark
Monday 30 August 2021 00:01 BST
Electric delivery vans at the Amazon warehouse in the Titanic Quarter, Belfas (Niall Carson/PA)
Electric delivery vans at the Amazon warehouse in the Titanic Quarter, Belfas (Niall Carson/PA) (PA Wire)

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Louise Thomas

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The online retail boom accelerated by the pandemic has seen almost 15 million sq ft of new super sheds built across the UK.

The enforced closure of high street stores saw the trend towards greater online sales rocket further, with retailers having to invest further into their warehousing capabilities to cope with delivery demand.

New figures published by real estate adviser Altus Group have shown that 49 brand new large distribution warehouse were built in 2020.

It said this reflected 14.72 million sq ft of “state of the art” sites – the equivalent of 191 Premier League football pitches.

The space is roughly the same amount of physical space lost this year as a result of the acquisition of the Debenhams and Arcadia brands by ecommerce giant Boohoo and Asos, Altus said in its annual business rates review published today.

The mammoth warehouses, dubbed “super sheds”, which are bigger than 85,000 sq ft each, were built and added to local ratings list for the purpose of property tax in the calendar year in England and Wales

Spanning from Northamptonshire up the M1 to East Midlands Airport, and west as far as Tamworth area, the “Golden Triangle” in the East Midlands saw an increase of 6.07 million sq ft of new super shed floor space during 2020.

It was double that of the next region, the East of England, at 2.77 million sq ft.

Super sheds occupied a total area of 416.28 million sq ft at the end of last year in England and Wales, about the size of 5,416 football pitches, with the Sports Direct warehouse at Shirebrook still the largest of them all.

Robert Hayton, UK president at Altus Group said: “Online only retailers now account for 17% of the occupier base of the 100 biggest super sheds.

“Surging demand has led to major investment opportunities, particularly for overseas investors, as the race for space continues to intensify which will undoubtedly impact tax liabilities at the next revaluation in 2023.”

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