Henley Expands into the US Car Wash Market

By January 26, 2024Aquasonic, CoStar

Henley Investment Management, has bought its first and second sites in Tampa, Florida, for a US car wash investment platform it intends to build to 100 locations by 2028.

The London and West Palm Beach, Florida-based investor said it is has spent the past two years developing the brand AquaSonic, which it is describing as a “pioneering express tunnel car wash service” which uses technology to create what it says is the most “environmentally friendly, efficient and highest quality car wash” in the market.

It says it has assembled a group of Florida investors to provide an initial investment of circa $10 million for the first phase of the business, which will include the acquisition of the first three sites located in Tampa and Orlando. It said it plans to then expand across the south-eastern states.

The is on N 56th Street in Tampa, south of Temple Terrace, which is expected to open in late summer or early fall 2024. The second site is on US-19 in New Port Richey and is expected to open around the same time.

Henley said it has moved on to its next round of fundraising and is expecting to have $40 million of total capital to support buying the next five sites. It is in “final discussions” with limited partners and is targeting 20 sites by the end of 2024.

The company is ultimately targeting over 100 car washes country-wide by 2028, which would make AquaSonic one of the biggest operators in the US.

Henley says the car wash business offers real estate investors a number of features that stand out in a higher interest rate environment. These include up to 80% of revenue coming from subscriptions and 45%-plus earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation margins.

AquaSonic’s car washes will have a 140-foot tunnel for the car to travel through being cleaned with the process lasting around 180 seconds. License plate recognition technology will speed up the process for monthly unlimited wash club members, it adds.

Henley says between 60% and 80% of the water used in each wash will be recycled, with much less water being used than when washing by hand at home. In addition, cleaning agents are collected to prevent entering them water systems and each property will use “highly efficient” LED lighting.

Ian Rickwood, chief executive and founder, Henley, explained in a statement:

It is an extremely fragmented sector populated by a lot of small, localised independent operators. It is a hugely scalable business with tremendous scope for growth and given the macro environment and investment opportunities we are seeing in the US, this is comfortably the best risk-adjusted return and I believe every wealth manager and investment advisor in the US should be exploring this space for their clients.

Henley says it plans eventually to bring the concept to Europe.

The firm manages both institutional and private investor capital and states it has deployed $3 billion in capital and carried out over 100 discrete investments and strategies.

It invests across multiple sectors in the UK, Europe, and the US.