Mark Dixon, the chief executive and founder of IWG, formerly known as Regus, is embarking on ambitious plans to open 2,000 new offices across the UK within the next five years.
This substantial expansion aims to bolster IWG’s presence significantly as it gears up for a potential listing on the New York Stock Exchange.
Currently operating approximately 400 centers in the UK, Dixon envisions scaling up to 2,500 centers over the next five to six years. IWG, renowned for its flexible working solutions under brands like Regus and Spaces, is actively scouting locations nationwide, ranging from city centers to suburban areas.
Dixon’s ambitious targets have garnered skepticism from some industry rivals, but he remains steadfast in his belief that the narrative of a full return to the office is overstated. He contends that individuals’ aversion to commuting will play a more significant role in shaping their workplace choices than corporate directives.
Despite some multinationals reining in remote working policies amidst recruitment slowdowns and layoffs, IWG remains confident in the demand for flexible workspaces. Over the past year, IWG has already opened 65 new centers in the UK, spanning from high-end, Art Deco-style workspaces in London to locations outside major cities.
The company’s expansion strategy primarily hinges on management agreements, allowing IWG to operate offices on behalf of landlords for a fee. This model mitigates risks associated with leasing office blocks directly and aligns with IWG’s vision of becoming a management-centric entity akin to Marriott in the hospitality sector.
IWG’s move towards management agreements also aims to address past conflicts with landlords, as the company has faced criticism for its handling of rental obligations during economic downturns. Dixon emphasizes the importance of building a larger company before contemplating a listing shift to the US, considering the sluggish economic outlook in Britain.
Despite challenges in the flexible working industry, including WeWork’s bankruptcy, IWG remains resilient, having capitalized on opportunities to acquire WeWork locations globally. Analysts anticipate IWG to benefit from WeWork’s downfall in the long run, positioning itself for continued growth and market leadership in the flexible workspace sector.