WeWork may be viewed with more caution by the corporate community in the wake of its financial rescue by Japan’s SoftBank late in 2019, but Canada continues to be a strong market for the shared workspace company.
WeWork operates 21 Canadian locations in Montreal, Vancouver, Toronto and Calgary. Corporate communications manager Adrian Zamora told RENX it sees “growing demand for well-designed, flexible workspace” in all of them.
“Canada is and will remain an important market for WeWork and we are committed to improving our business here and enhancing our fantastic community,” he said.
Last week, WeWork hosted an event to celebrate the November opening of its largest Toronto location. WeWork Hudson’s Bay shares two floors of the downtown flagship Hudson’s Bay Co. store at Queen and Yonge Streets.
Canadian expansion for WeWork
Without revealing details, Zamora said the company anticipates additional building openings in the coming months.
“WeWork and its new executive leadership have made clear we will continue to grow and expand geographically in a smart and profitable way, including in existing markets throughout Canada.”
There are no expansion, renovation or closing plans for any current locations in Canada, Zamora said. However, the company will also continue to evaluate potential new Canadian markets.
“Thanks to investments made to date, WeWork has built a position in key markets that is difficult for our competitors to replicate.
“We offer members access to a global portfolio of spaces through a single provider — a feature that’s particularly attractive for enterprise companies that could otherwise face distinct legal, logistical and cultural barriers to entry.
“Looking ahead, WeWork has outlined a plan to continue expansion, now through a new strategy that includes the current end-to-end solution in some markets, as well as asset-light arrangements such as joint ventures, franchising and management agreements.
“WeWork Hudson’s Bay is an example of this.”
About WeWork Hudson’s Bay
WeWork Hudson’s Bay, the company’s 10th location in Toronto, is located in the department store chain’s flagship site. It has welcomed more than 1,600 members from logistics, software, education, hospitality, law, wellness and other fields since opening in November.
“Both parties came together to establish a unique management agreement to make the most of the building’s space utilization, with WeWork occupying the upper floors — a prime location for office space,” said Zamora.
“This partnership has helped to revitalize a historic building in the city, attracting a new wave of users and serving entrepreneurs and businesses of all sizes from the surrounding area.”
While the company did not reveal the square footage of the Hudson’s Bay heritage site, which partially occupies the sixth and seventh floors and overlooks the adjacent retail floors, it includes a range of amenities and environments.
In addition to dedicated workspace, WeWork Hudson’s Bay includes:
* a central greeting and gathering spot called The Hub;
* a food and beverage space called The Café, featuring local vendors including Station Cold Brew Coffee Co. and Imperial Coffee and Services Inc., that can be integrated with stacked bleachers for larger events;
* a large, flexible event space called The Town Hall that overlooks City Hall and hosts WeWork-sponsored events as well as those from the private, public and non-profit sectors;
* and a quiet area with bookshelves and soft seating called The Library which provides a more relaxed and intimate workspace.
The flexible workspace sector
Despite WeWork’s need to rein in its spending and expansion plans, the company remains a key force in the sector.
An October 2019 report by CBRE identified it as Canada’s second-largest flexible workspace provider, with about 1.86 million square feet of office space and a 25 per cent market share.
That was second only to IWG. The owner of Spaces, Regus and several other brands had 2.56 million square feet and a 35 per cent share of the market. IWG was operating 112 locations in Canada at the time of the study.
The two big players dominate the market. Canadian-owned iQ Office Suites was a distant third with 203,000 square feet in nine locations.
In Toronto, WeWork has undergone significant growth since 2017, the CBRE report indicates. Prior to opening the HBC site, it had a dozen locations and 657,000 square feet of space in the city, almost six times its footprint two years earlier.
There was about 3.14 million square feet of shared workspace in the GTA, representing 1.8 per cent of the total office inventory. Downtown, the 2.32 million square feet of space represented 2.4 per cent of the district’s total inventory.
The overall Canadian shared workspace market was estimated at about 6.1 million square feet. Another 1.3 million square feet was planned to open through 2022.