Corporate social responsibility and sustainability report

Introduction and management approach

Self Storage Group’s goal is to be the preferred self-storage provider in Scandinavia and generate profitability and return to our shareholders. The Group focuses on lean operations and automations. At the same time SSG aspires to offer industry leading customer service. The Group aims to develop a business model that is sustainable with low carbon footprint, and believes it to be important that we engage in how we can make a difference for costumers as well as for our employees. The Board of Directors emphasises the importance of sustainability as an integral part of the company’s operations and development.

We are determined to include sustainability as an integrated part of our business. Sustainability is on the agenda in the management meetings to ensure continuously improvements. Even though our business model in general has a low carbon footprint, SSG still has potential related to sustainability. Management has evaluated how the Group can improve and integrate sustainability in the daily operations, and in 2020 policies, targets, responsibilities, and action plans were established to continue the journey in a more formalized structure to achieve these potentials.

Reporting standards

The Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability Report has been developed in accordance with the Global Reporting Initiative Standards (GRI), GRI Core option. The GRI Standards, applicable to all industries, include both relevant disclosures for a range of economic, environmental, and social topics as well as reporting principles related to the reporting process.

Contribution to the UN Sustainable Development Goals

The Group has prioritised three of the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals set out in the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. SSG sees the following goals as particularly significant to our business and the solutions the Group can contribute to:

Goal 8: Decent work and economic growth

Goal 8: Decent work and economic growth

SSG has a strong focus on our employees and to provide a safe, productive, and positive work environment. To secure quality in deliveries and decent pay and working conditions for hired employees the Group requests suppliers and contractors to sign a declaration. Investments in new properties and expansions are made to increase lettable area available for our customers. Cost focus at all levels is considered vital to ensure profitability and further economic growth.

Goal 9: Industry, innovation, and infrastructure

Goal 9: Industry, innovation, and infrastructure

In the building and renovation process, the Group takes into consideration possible innovative environmental solutions for its properties and building projects to lower the energy consumption. SSG also focuses on using products of high quality and long lifetime to reduce negative environmental impacts throughout the lifetime of our buildings. By providing self-storage facilities close to where customers live, the customers can choose to live in smaller apartments with less storage space. Proximity to the facilities reduces the transportation-distance. As a contribution to the sharing economy and a sustainable society, some of our facilities provide trailers and transportation cars for rent, reducing the need for each customer to own their own car.

Goal 12: Responsible consumption and production

Goal 12: Responsible consumption and production

The Group is continuously focusing on improving customer service, with staff and/or new technology. Self-storage is a product that let people store their belongings instead of throwing and purchasing new items.
The Group often converts old buildings not suitable for offices or housing that risk being demolished to self-storage. In the building process there is focus on sorting waste for recycling. Building’s life cycle economical cost and life cycle environmental impact is emphasised when considering different solutions and choice of building materials. In the planning process efficient use of the building is essential.

Stakeholder and materiality analysis

Self Storage Group fulfils its corporate responsibilities by developing and running its operations profitably, and in a manner that is consistent with fundamental ethical values and respect for individual people, society as a whole and the environment. For Self Storage Group it is important to maintain a dialogue with the Group’s most important stakeholders and review how they are affected by the ongoing business and how they will be affected by new decisions. This dialog makes the Group able to continue to improve the business and build trust with the stakeholders.

The Group has conducted a stakeholder and materiality analysis which identifies the economic, social, climate and environmental consequences of the company’s operations that have the greatest impact on stakeholders’ assessments and decisions.

As a basis for these analyses the Group has identified the groups, organisations and individuals that are impacted by the Group’s operations or which have an impact on the Group’s strategy and goal achievement. Further, this analysis has been used to identify and understand factors that are important for the business strategy and for the stakeholders. Material items are defined based on the management’s experience of areas stakeholders have shown most interest for during regular stakeholder dialog over the last years, and managements knowledge of the Group’s impact on economic, social and environmental areas.

The model below shows which groups of stakeholders which are regarded as most important for Self Storage Group:

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The model below specifies the degree of importance for SSG’s stakeholders, as well as what is important and relevant for Self Storage Group:

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All the focus areas have either economic, social, or environmental impacts and are of great significance for Self Storage Group. Health and safety, integrity and human rights and employee wellbeing have all main significance for the company’s social impacts. Resource efficiency has most significance for the company’s environmental impacts and some for the economic impact. Customer satisfaction has main significance for the company’s economic impact since satisfied customers stay longer, returns when similar needs arise and are ambassadors for SSG.

SSG’s defined main focus areas

Health and safety

Health and safety

Resource efficiency

Resource efficiency

Integrity and human rights

Integrity and human rights

Employee wellbeing

Employee wellbeing

Customer satisfaction

Customer satisfaction

Health and safety

The Group works continuously with health and safety matters for employees, customers and third parties. A safe and healthy working environment is fundamental to develop a sustainable business model and to attract and retain qualified employees.

To enhance wellbeing and reduce absence due to illness all full-time employees are part of a health insurance program. One of the benefits from the program is rapid and easily accessible free health treatment specialists. During 2020 COVID-19 many of the employees in the Group has worked from home. To increase work comfort all employees have had the opportunity to borrow office equipment like chairs, screens etc, and flexible work hours were introduced to reduce stress.

The absence due to illness for the Group in 2020 was 3.0%. Management supervises all facilities at a regularly basis to ensure a safe environment, with severity and number of injuries being the most important measure.

All employees visiting construction sites are required to wear protection equipment. Injuries on employees are reported, measured, and followed up. There were no fatal or high consequence injuries in Self Storage Group in 2020 (0). No fatal or high consequence injuries from customers have been reported (0).

In 2020 Self Storage Group implemented “suppliers declaration” for HSE, minimum wages etc. Currently this has been required for all new suppliers of a certain size related to facility management. This increases our control on working conditions for personnel hired by our suppliers.

Targets for 2021

  • No injuries leading to sickness absence among employees and hired personnel
  • Assessment of potential risk areas with focus on further reducing the risk for injuries
  • Implement policy for use of suppliers’ declaration and tracking system of suppliers with declaration

Resource efficiency

Resource efficiency is essential when aiming to develop a business model that is sustainable with low carbon footprint.

SSG’s model focuses on buildings and materials with long lifetime and storage of customers belongings in climate-controlled environments. By transforming old buildings to self-storage facilities, the Group contributes to sustainability, through the building process as earlier described. When new buildings are set up, the buildings are purpose build for self-storage with the specified requirements. If a facility is closed down, fit-out in good condition is dismantled and moved to new facilities if suitable. Self-storage buildings are maintained to extend the buildings lifetime, and frequent renovation as in an office building is not needed. In the building process the management always try to combine sustainable and green solutions with long term financial choices. The Group requires recycling in the building process and on office facilities.

Self-storage is a product that helps people store their belongings instead of throwing away for later to buy new belongings. By being a provider of self-storage facilities close to where customers live, there is less need for transportation to the facility and thus less CO2 emissions.

Caretakers of the properties are hired locally if it is a suitable solution. This reduces the need of transportation to the different facilities localised in Scandinavia.

The Groups operations are not considered to have any material impact on the climate and the environment. Resource efficiency is nevertheless a prioritised focus area that also has an economic impact on the Groups financial results.

The Group has focus on resource management on all levels and is continuously focusing on reducing the energy consumption in the portfolio. Our buildings are equipped with few technical installations, so lowering the energy consumption is mainly done by keeping the temperature in climate-controlled environments at a low level, installing heat pumps and upgrading to LED-lightning. LED-lightning use less energy, has long lifetime, and has movement sensors in each lamp. As of December 2020, 68% of our owned facilities have full LED-lightening and 11% have partly LED-lightning. During 2020 SSG had eleven sustainability initiatives on already opened facilities where electricity was changes into LED-lightning or heat-pumps were installed. All new facilities are equipped with LED-lightning.

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As an example, several of the facilities in Denmark have upgraded to LED-lightning both indoor and outdoor. The upgrades have been implemented from autumn 2018. In the figure below the decrease in energy consumption for four of the Danish facilities which have been upgraded can be seen from 2018 till 2019. The analyses are based of used kWh divided on CLA (m2) for these facilities. The change in kWh/CLA for facility 1 from 2019 till 2020 is a result of continued work to optimize lighting at the facility, while the potential at facility 2, 3 and 4 are close to target. Heating of all these facilities is performed with district heating and is not included in the used kWh. The figures below are not adjusted for changes in outside temperature.

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At the end of 2020 Self Storage Group started the process of gathering all energy agreements in Norway to one supplier to start monitoring the energy consumption for all Norwegian facilities, establish KPI’s and actions plans for each facility. In 2021 the relevant KPI’s and a point-0 will be established.

The highest environmental risk for Self Storage Group operations both on short and long term relates to water. More extreme water with heavy rain increases the risk for flooded buildings. Therefore, we put extra focus on roofing and other water related issues. Selected storage rooms are equipped with special mats on the floor to reduce water damages. Measures to prevent water damages have high attention in the Group, and in addition all customers must have insurance when renting storage. A water risk map for each facility is under preparation.

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Targets for 2021

  • Establishing KPIs (kWh/ gross areas) for all facilities and action plans. Upcoming years after establishing a “point- 0”, we will establish a goal for reduction. Continue renewal of old lighting systems
  • Enter agreement to purchase 100% renewable energy for Norwegian facilities
  • Establish a water risk map
  • Choose 0- emission alternatives when company cars are to be renewed
  • Buy emission permits when traveling by plane
  • Replace retail assortment with sustainable alternatives

Integrity and human rights

Integrity and human rights are of great significance for the Group, and no violations on these are accepted. Most of our stakeholders do not assess this as a risk in Scandinavia. The Group has implemented ethical guidelines as a part of the corporate governance framework to maintain high ethical standards in its business and relations with customers, suppliers, and employees. These guidelines ensure compliance with arm’s length distance principles and minimise the risk for corruption. The Group pays tax to the local country and are not involved in tax planning.

The Group attempts to maintain a working environment with equal opportunities for all based on qualifications and irrespective of gender, age, sex, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, or any other protected status. When recruiting for new positions we aim to increase diversity. At year-end 2020, women held 35% of the positions in the Group. The Management team consists of four members, of which one is female. Female employees made up 25% of the Management team and 50% of the Board of Directors. The organisation is set up with a flat and unformal organisation model. Approximately a total of 15 different nationalities are represented in the Group.

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Targets for 2021

  • All transactions are to be made on armlengths distance
  • Formalized recruitment procedures to increase diversity

Employee wellbeing

The employees are essential for the operation. At year-end 2020, the Group had 81 (94) employees, of which 46 worked fulltime. Details about the employees are listed in the table below, and there are no significant variations in these details from year to year. No assumptions are made in the below numbers.

The employees have different roles in the organisation, such as customer service, operation, facility management and administration. The Group is founded based on the two companies OK Minilager and City Self-Storage and has acquired three companies with employees since 2016. Several measures have been taken to integrate the different working cultures to one. Company awards are used in the Group to premiere good role models for the values set.

Self Storage Group needs a range of competence in the different roles in the organisation. It is important that the employees have the knowledge and competence to perform their role in a correct and safe way. All new employees are given necessary training to conduct their work. A start-up plan is normally made for new employees to ensure that they receive the necessary information and training related to their role.

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For customer service most of the training of new employees are performed side by side with experienced employees starting with the most basic tasks. New employees have a designated colleague available for questions and manuals to check when questions arise. Self Storage Group are proud to have high quality customer service employees that are available in person at manned facilities and on chat and at the phone at unmanned facilities to help our customers.

Many of the employees work on different facilities, and the intranet is important both for information to the employees and as a social platform where employees in all roles can communicate easily. The Group has low turnover (8% for 2020) and the average number of years an employee is employed is seven years (full time employees). All employees are free to be part of collective bargaining agreements.

In Self Storage Group annual employee appraiser interviews with all employees are conducted. This give the employees an opportunity to discuss relevant items and to be followed up in a structured way. The Group made an employee survey in the last quarter of 2020. The management has analysed the results of the survey and introduced measures to increase the employee satisfaction. In 2021 management will continue the work on implemented measures and introduce further measures.

SSG aims to offer competitive remuneration to all employees, based on qualifications and experience, and irrespective of gender. The positions in the Group can be divided into three levels: the management team, middle-management, and operations. The figure below shows an overview of Full Time Equivalents (FTE) and average salary as of 2020 divided into the three levels.

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For operations, the average salary of women is below the average salary of this level. Salary at the operation level is mainly impacted by experience and how many years the employee has been within the company. At the operation level, men had on average seven years of seniority while women had six years of seniority in 2020. At the middle-management and management team level, the average salary of women is higher than the average salary level of these two groups. The salary at these levels is mainly impacted by the degree of required formal competence and experience necessary for the different positions in addition the seniority. The female part-time employees had on average a slightly lower wage-level of the male part-time employees, due to average higher seniority amongst the male part-time employees.

The employees in Sweden and Denmark, and some leading positions in Norway could achieve a bonus in addition to salary when reaching certain KPI-targets.

A total of three employees were in maternity leave in 2020, two men and one woman. The average length of maternity leave was 15 weeks for men and 46 weeks for women.

Targets for 2021

  • Measuring development of employee satisfaction by using annual employee survey
  • Use the results to implement new measures if/where it’s needed
  • Perform a manager training course for all employees in a manager role
  • Formalise training of customer service for both new and experience employees
  • Formalise ranges for salary based on seniority and competence for operations to ensure equal treatment

Customer satisfaction

Self Storage Group offers a service most people need at some point in life, and the goal is to be the preferred self-storage provider in Scandinavia. The Group has many customers, mainly in the private consumer market (80%), but also in the business market (20%). In the private consumer market moving, refurbishment, downsizing, need for additional storage, and student storage are the main reasons for demand, while in the business marked inventories, relocation, refurbishment, archive storage, and last mile storage are the main reasons for demand. Most of the business customers are in the private sector.

Our customers satisfaction is important for many reasons. Satisfied customers stay longer, returns when similar needs arise and are ambassadors for the company. Our goal is to be the preferred self-storage provider in Scandinavia. To adapt to different customers’ needs Self Storage Group offers both manned and unmanned facilities. In this way both customers wanting personal service and customers wanting a self-service can be served.

As of December 2020, Self Storage Group has 116 facilities in Norway, Sweden, and Denmark through the concepts City Self Storage and OK Minilager, ensuring high availability for many existing customers and potential customers. The Group offers the customers 24 400 storage rooms. The average customer moving out had a rental time of 12 months.

City Self-Storage is member of the Self-Storage Associations in Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, and a representative from the management serve as member of the Board in some of the associations. The membership requires City Self-Storage to follow the industry standard and contribute to raise the quality for the customers.

Trustpilot has in 2020 been actively used to gain understanding and insight regarding the customers satisfaction and customer journey to continuously improve the self-storage service. The results from Trustpilot as of 2020 for each company in the Group are presented in the figure below, where rating 5 is the highest rating and 1 is the lowest.

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Targets for 2021

  • Continue the use of Trustpilot to measure customer satisfaction
  • Increase the focus on advantages when choosing Self Storage Group as self-storage provider
  • Actively analyse areas where Self Storage Group can make the service provided more sustainable or help the customer to choose more sustainable

Other

Innovation

The Group develops new solutions to continuously improve the customer service. By focusing on digital solutions, the customers’ ability to help themselves are increased. New solutions are intuitive and easy, thus improving the customer’s experience.

The CRM-system developed for OK Minilager has been upgraded and improved since 2018 to tailor the system to the Group’s specific needs. The acquired companies Minilageret, Minilager Norge and Eurobox have successfully been migrated to the new platform. All new CSS-facilities are also added to the new CRM-system. During 2021 the Group plans to start the migration of remaining CSS-facilities to the new CRM-system and launch a customer-app integrated with the CRM-system.

The focus on modern CRM is essential for efficient operations as it enables the Group to scale up when new facilities are added to the portfolio. The management works close with operation and customer service to develop new solutions.

Suppliers and business partners

Self Storage Group mainly works with local suppliers both when establishing new facilities and in the daily business. Currently some IT- and marketing services are acquired from other European countries and self-storage fit-out for new facilities are acquired from abroad. The Group’s suppliers vary between administrative services like marketing and IT-service, suppliers that are involved in caretaking and control of facilities in use, to construction workers on new facilities. The work performed by suppliers is not a significant part of the daily operations.

Timely deliveries from suppliers are essential for the Groups operations and growth. To ensure that all suppliers follow laws and regulations the Group has started to use a supplier declaration. The declaration focuses on hired labours salary and rights, recycling, use of subcontractors and quality systems. In 2020 SSG made a strategic decision not to have internal construction workers, but to purchase services from external parties. There has been no other significant change in suppliers or the supply chain in 2020.

Local community

Self-storage is a business with little traffic and limited pollution. Approximately 80% of the customers are individual customers, who rarely visit their storage room. Some facilities offer volunteer organisations discounts on storage.

Self-Storage Group provide the local community a service that local residents and businesses often are in need for. As a contribution to the sharing economy some of our facilities provide trailers and transportation cars for rent, reducing the need for each customer to have their own car.

Timely reporting and legal compliance

The Group is listed on Oslo Stock Exchange and follows all required reporting guidelines. All reporting has been made according to published financial calendar and regulatory deadlines. The goal is to continue to deliver timely reporting with high quality that contains all required information.

Both Management and Board of Directors meetings have financial reporting and legal compliance on the agenda. There is attention both on structure, content and development to deliver high quality in both external and internal financial reporting.

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