Merrion Vaults plans €2m expansion of safety deposit box service

Safekeeping specialist set to open in Liverpool’s landmark Royal Liver Building

Séamus Fahy:  Merrion Vaults  runs a purpose-built safety deposit box facility on Dublin’s South Cumberland Street

Séamus Fahy: Merrion Vaults runs a purpose-built safety deposit box facility on Dublin’s South Cumberland Street

 

Safekeeping specialist Merrion Vaults is spending up to €2 million on an expansion that will see it open new safety deposit box centres in Liverpool’s landmark Royal Liver Building, other British cities and possibly Europe.

Merrion Vaults runs a purpose-built safety deposit box facility on Dublin’s South Cumberland Street, close to Merrion Square, which it opened in 2013 after its founders, businessmen Séamus Fahy and David Walsh, identified strong demand for the service.

Mr Fahy confirmed at the weekend that the Irish company is planning to open in Liverpool and Nottingham in England, to follow vaults that are already up and running in Glasgow and Newcastle.

He revealed that the company is hoping to open shortly in Liverpool’s Royal Liver Building, which dominates the city’s waterfront. “They have an actual vault there in the basement,” Mr Fahy said.

He explained that the company requires basements for security reasons. It then fits these out and installs security and motion sensor technology.

Each facility costs between €500,000 and €1 million, depending on the work needed to bring it up to the required standard. Mr Fahy estimated that current expansion plans could cost in the region of €2 million.

Merrion Vaults is in talks on potential premises in Nottingham, and could target Edinburgh in Scotland. Customers are driving from Aberdeen and Inverness to get to its base in Glasgow, so there is good demand in the region as a whole.

Asian communities

When the Irish company first moved into Britain, Mr Fahy said that he and his colleagues noticed its service was popular with the Asian community. Women from Indian and Pakistani families get large amounts of gold as wedding presents.

As they attach particular value to these gifts, they want them stored safely. “So we have been looking at cities with large Asian communities, they are mainly in the north of England and the midlands,” he said.

However, that is not the only source of business. Mr Fahy noted that its facilities in both Ireland and Britain store everything from cash and family heirlooms to property deeds and company data.

“Businesses like pubs and shops, that need to be able to store cash overnight and access it again the following day, use us quite a lot,” he said. Merrion opens its vaults seven days a week, but closes them at night, during which time neither its owners nor employees can enter its premises.

Political instability

A key driver of demand in both countries is that the banks have either stopped offering safety deposit box services, or are planning to do so. Mr Fahy said that he and Mr Walsh decided to begin Merrion after he found it difficult to locate such a service for his other business, Voltaire Diamonds.

When Ulster Bank shut its safety deposit box service, it wrote to customers recommending that they use Merrion Vaults. Political instability and big events like Brexit can also prompt people to be more security conscious and to invest in tangibles such as gold, which requires safe storage.

The company is now weighing a move to the continent. However, Mr Fahy said that that it has looked at Iberia, but it would first establish where demand was before deciding on a move there.

At home, Mr Fahy said that there is still room in its Dublin facility. One thing that has been pushing demand is concern about burglaries. “Between 2010 and 2012, burglaries went up more than 10 per cent. According to the Central Statistics Office, they went from 20,000 to around 23,000,” he said.

Merrion charges €199 a year for its smallest box. That goes up to €3,500 for its biggest, which is a locker. The company bars customers from storing firearms, drugs, liquids or perishables. Apart from that, they have complete privacy and control over what they deposit.

The company’s alarms and sensors are monitored by local garda and police stations, while it is also insured with Lloyds of London.