WeWork and CoWrks, two of the biggest co-working space providers, are aggressively lapping up office properties in a bid to compete with each other in big cities.
WeWork India, promoted by Bengaluru-based property developer Embassy group’s Virwani family, is a joint venture (JV) with WeWork of the United States. CoWrks is promoted by another Bengaluru developer, RMZ’s Menda family. Both have taken properties of about 700,000 sq ft each in Mumbai, Bengaluru, and the National Capital Region (NCR), among other cities in the past six months.
WeWork has leased five properties with a total of 670,000 sq ft. It plans to open two more centres next month — WeWork Vikhroli in Mumbai and WeWork Hebbal in Bengaluru. “We are looking at closing or are in the process of closing 700,000 sq ft in the NCR for seven to eight centres, 800,000 sq ft in Mumbai for six to seven and seven buildings in Bengaluru for about 600,000 sq ft,” said Karan Virwani, general manager, WeWork India.
In the past six months, CoWrks had acquired 700,000 sq ft and launched seven centres across Bengaluru, Mumbai, the NCR and Chennai. It has nine centres with an area of one million sq ft. CoWrks wants to double its current space by the end of 2018, with 23 operational centres over 2.5 million sq ft.
“Our plan for expansion includes solidifying our presence in four existing cities and venturing into new markets such as Hyderabad and Pune,” said Sidharth Menda, founder and chief executive. “The firm aims to acquire 20 million sq ft in the country by 2022 and also mark its presence in Europe and Southeast Asia.”
Amit Goenka, chief executive and managing director at Nisus Financial Services, said the two firms are betting on future demand.
“The current demand is a third of the total space they have taken up. They will struggle to fill the remaining space. Occupation will come in the next three to five years,” he said.
He feels CoWrks is offering better commercials and amenities to clients, while WeWork is giving standard offers. “The competition is wonderful for property developers. They are making good money in good locations,” he said.
Virwani says WeWork operates as a global company, with a local playbook . “Whenever we enter a new market, WeWork helps to create a WeWork experience with experts, connecting with the local community. We have locations all around the world and are quickly expanding to more countries,” he said.
In the next three years , WeWork will expand and capture each of six micro markets in India and sustain its position as market leader of the category, he said.
According to property consultant Colliers International, operators of co-working or flexible working spaces constituted about 8 per cent of total absorption in 2017 (3.42 million sq ft), compared to 3 per cent in 2016.The dominating market remained Bengaluru with 32 per cent share of the overall flexible workspaces pie in 2017, followed by Mumbai with 18 per cent.