Wednesday 25 April 2018

WeWork sees 'no limit' to demand for Toronto offices

Stock image
Stock image

Natalie Wong

Co-working giant WeWork Cos can be added to the growing list of players looking to profit from Toronto's booming office market.

The New York-based company aims to occupy at least 20 different locations in Toronto by 2020, up from three now, according to Dave McLaughlin, WeWork's general manager for the Northeast. WeWork opened its first locations in the city last year, both of which were 98pc occupied within the first month. A third location was announced last January.

"The bottom line is, we don't see any limit to demand," McLaughlin said. "We're definitely setting our sights high for the city and we think it is an amazing ecosystem for business."

SoftBank Group Corp.-backed WeWork is among the richest private technology companies in the world, with about $4.75bn in funding. The company has profited off a global shift toward shared offices amid more contract and freelance work, growing to about 230 locations globally in eight years. In Canada, the start-up has leased seven buildings in Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto, where office vacancy rates are among the lowest in North America.

WeWork plans to open two more locations in the city in 2018, recently announcing 1 University Ave in the downtown core for a total of about 3,200 desks in the city. The company usually partners with office landlords for leases of about 15 years. It's also begun to purchase buildings, buying Lord & Taylor's iconic building in Manhattan from Hudson's Bay Co. last year for $850m. As part of the deal, WeWork will also lease some space in Hudson's Bay department stores in Canada, including its flagship store on Toronto's Queen Street.

While WeWork has no specific targets in Toronto, acquisitions are a possibility in the future, said McLaughlin.

(Bloomberg)

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