CubeSmart Seeing Gains from New Brand, Added Services

Speaking with REIT.com during last month's REITWeek 2012: NAREIT's Investor Forum, CubeSmart (NYSE: CUBE) President Christopher Marr said the company's branding overhaul continues to be received very positively by shareholders and customers alike.

As an example, Marr said CubeSmart, formerly known as U-Store-It, rolled out an "Expect More with CubeSmart" campaign in New York City, which included subway, bus, billboard and Internet radio spots. He said the company saw more than 200 million impressions online and about 42,000 direct searches for CubeSmart.com for customers trying to fulfill their storage needs.

"Additionally, the reaction from our employees has been fantastic," Marr said. "The pride they have in the name has really helped them provide excellent customer service."

In addition to the name change, CubeSmart also made a shift in terms of amenities offered and type of tenants it tries to attract. Marr said the introduction of a "superstore" with expanded customer services has been well received. Where the company's new superstore concepts were open for the entire first quarter, Marr said those stores outperformed other CubeSmart locations in the same market in terms of revenue, rentals and occupancy.

"In fact, half of our customers said the reason they rented with us was the additional services we were able to provide them," Marr said.

Marr said the consolidation within the self-storage sector continues as public self-storage REITs acquire locations owned by small, private operators. However, he said it is not only on-balance sheet consolidation in terms of acquisition of assets but also from a management perspective.

"You are increasingly seeing the owners of assets reaching out for larger operators like CubeSmart, who have a brand and a marketing platform, to be able to drive their revenue," Marr said. "Right now, we have just north of a 100 assets that we are managing for third parties and if you look back three years ago we were managing zero."

Marr said that trend will not only continue but he expects it to accelerate in the coming years.