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Light Industrial – a short overview

The last few years have seen a big growth in interest for smaller industrial units. A wide variety of businesses are finding that these spaces are suited to their diverse needs. Retailers may want to store stock in regional hubs to speed up deliveries, climbing clubs and gyms may value the open floor plans and high ceilings. Whilst smaller producers and manufacturers appreciate the flexibility and security.

In this guide, we want to introduce you to the Light Industrial asset type, explore its growing popularity and provide a few tips for finding the right space for your business. If you are looking to set up a new venture or expand an existing one, Light Industrial can provide you with the space you need to get to work.

What is light Industrial?

Light Industrial differs from traditional or more ‘heavy’ industrial units in that they are primarily designed for processes such as manufacturing, packaging, repair and assembly. Unlike units built for more intensive industrial activities that require lots of heavy equipment and large-scale infrastructure, Light Industrial serves a different market. Businesses that utilise these spaces are often more consumer-oriented, producing goods like clothes and furniture for sale.

There is no set definition of what constitutes Light Industrial, but any manufacturing or production unit smaller than 120,000 square feet would likely qualify. The majority of units would be smaller than that.

Because they are designed to accommodate working environments that rely on machinery and technology, this asset type is characterised by big open designs with well laid out spaces. This makes them a particularly attractive ‘blank canvas’ that businesses of all types can use to get up and running relatively quickly. It is that flexibility that is powering the recent surge in interest for these properties.

What are these kinds of property used for?

The space offered by Light Industrial units makes them a great choice for a wide variety of businesses. For those that need to manufacture, assemble or store products before they are sold to consumers, these spaces are usually large enough to accommodate the machinery needed but don’t cost as much as larger units. Bakeries that prepare food in a central location before distributing it to local stores, virtual restaurants and ‘dark kitchens’ are examples of the new kinds of flourishing businesses in these spaces.

But equally, there has been a recent move towards using this asset type for other kinds of commercial ventures. Gyms, sports clubs and climbing walls are all popular among consumers and require lots of space. In recent years, there has been a growth in the popularity of escape rooms that offer immersive, group-based experiences. Many cities have smaller independent breweries looking to capitalise on the UK’s newfound love of craft ales and artisan spirits. Many choose to operate small bars and shops or hold tasting events in their units. These examples highlight the scope that Light Industrial units offer businesses that don’t feel like they need to be tied to city centres or high street locations.

Interior of empty industrial property

Why is this asset type growing in popularity?

One of the main reasons powering this asset type’s rocketing popularity is that they reflect a number of important changes in the way businesses operate. In the age of Amazon, businesses of all kinds are increasingly judged on how quickly they can get their products into the hands of consumers. Businesses are looking for spaces that can accommodate production and storage but are less costly and offer more flexibility than warehouses and larger industrial units. Businesses from various industries and with totally different fit-out requirements can set up and get going quickly in these units. They are also providing incubation spaces for companies looking for a place to grow steadily before moving on to bigger premises.

Here are some of the features that people love about Light Industrial units:

Accessibility

These units typically feature large doors to accommodate deliveries and shipments, making them a good fit for most businesses. While there will be quirks and differences between individual units, most follow a pretty universal design centred around a large floor space with other entrances, office space, bathrooms and other amenities built around it. This means that you can be confident that you will find what you want and that there will be no nasty surprises.

Functional

Light Industrial units are built so that occupants can maximise every inch of space. Higher bays allow for vertical storage, and typically occupants can expect high voltage power service to every shop area or machine station. The idea is that you should not have to fit your operations to the space but that the unit should make it easy for you to do everything you need. Industrial estates also tend to be located close to main roads, making it even easier for your business to be as nimble as possible. But these units are also often permitted near more residential areas, potentially allowing you to get closer to your customer base.

Sustainable

If your business involves the use of chemicals or requires the storage of potentially harmful substances, Light Industrial units are a good choice. They provide good ventilation systems and are built to withstand lots of heavy-duty activity. The design also means that you can be confident that your unit will keep up with you and that you won’t have to worry about having to pay for lots of repairs and maintenance.

Secure

You may feel a bit more confident with all the assets your business rely on locked up in an industrial unit overnight and at weekends. Depending on the location, there may also be more CCTV coverage too.

Choosing the right Light Industrial property

Industrial estates are opening up and becoming an attractive proposition to a wider range of businesses. But many may still be a little reluctant to explore the opportunity this asset presents. This will likely continue to change over the coming years, but businesses may need a bit more help finding the right space for them for now. Here at Realla, we are more than happy to offer a few quick tips.

The similarities between industrial units make the details important. You need to have a clear idea of exactly what you need from a space in terms of storage, amenities, floor space, transport links, etc. If you are a growing business, you should also factor in some room for expansion too. You don’t want to suddenly become hampered by the space after a period of growth.

Choosing the right location is also crucial. Your unit should be a facilitator of, rather than an obstacle to, future success. Locating yourself close to your customers may help you lower the cost of your products and make your business more attractive. For more national businesses, having a network of local hubs may be a more effective strategy than operating centrally out of a larger warehouse or factory.