IWG (Switzerland) Plans to Grow in Latin America
22 Oct 2018 - It’s been quite a year for International Workplace Group (IWG). In December 2017, the company got its first all-cash offer to go private, followed by three more new offers just a few months later. Despite these deals falling through, 2018 has been a good year for IWG, one full of action.
In brief, the company acquired three coworking brands early in the year, announced plans to re-launch its franchise program, its Spaces brand has opened over 20 new locations this year including its two largest deals in Canada, and now IWG is suing WeWork for trademark infringement.
So, what’s next for the flexible workspace company?
Speaking to Allwork.Space, Wayne Berger, CEO for IWG in Canada and Latin America, said that the company will be adding another million square feet to its portfolio in the coming months, much of which we will likely see in Canada and Latin America.
According to Berger, the LATAM and Canada markets are very strong and pose a great opportunity for growth.
“We are seeing an acceleration in demand for coworking spaces, especially in Latin America. This has been driven by three main factors: the first is that the contingent workforce is growing at a fast rate in the region and it’s expected to represent 40% of the workforce by 2021.
“The second is that we are seeing a lot of investment pour into the region to support startups; this means they have more cash-flow and more opportunity to grow and develop, and they are looking at coworking spaces as the aspirational and ideal location where they can work and grow.
“Last but not least, multinational companies in the region are accelerating the demand of coworking and flexible workspace, as they look to this solution as a primary vehicle and destination for their international operations.”
Poised for multi-brand growth
Currently, IWG operates 175 locations in Latin America and over the past few months the company has focused on internal business development. “We wanted to ensure that we had the right plan, direction, and leadership focus before we continued to grow in the market.
“We are now ready to move forward with our growth plans.”
IWG has introduced several Spaces locations in Mexico, with Colombia and Chile in the pipeline. It’s not just the Spaces brand growing. Berger shares that IWG is taking a multi brand strategy approach in new markets. “We are growing our Regus, Spaces, and HQ brands, as well as introducing and incorporating our Signature by Regus and Number 18 brands to the region.
Berger believes this multi formatted strategy is key to the company’s success, especially as it prepares itself for a shift in the economic cycle.
“The shift in the cycle is imminent. Though we can’t predict when exactly it will happen, the way we structure our organization and business helps us ensure that we can mitigate risks through economic shifts. Growth in this business requires tremendous capital investment; once the cycle shifts we will see significant rationalization in the industry.
“Companies that are diversified and able to manage their portfolio and balance sheets strategically will be able to use this rationalization as a growth opportunity.”
“We are diversifying ourselves. We have been through a number of economic cycles that have left various lessons learned and how we grow is very important.
“We are growing through the traditional lease and service model, as well as through alternative investment development practices. We are working with landlords and developers on different types of deals, like shared profit models, to help us balance out the risk and provide healthy returns.
“Additionally we are also growing our franchise model around the world and looking at portfolio agreements with large institutional and independent operators to be able to build a market completely.”