As it gears up for an IPO, WeWork faces competitive headwinds in Europe

The $47B firm will be challenged by homegrown flexible office space companies in Europe
May 01, 2019 02:30PM

WeWork CEO Adam Neumann (Credit: Getty Images)

WeWork CEO Adam Neumann (Credit: Getty Images)

WeWork’s announcement this week that it has filed preliminary paperwork to pave the way for a public offering is a signal of its plans to expand further. But in Europe, the company faces a more competitive field where local firms dominate market share in many cities.

Flexible office space has doubled in Europe in the past five years, driven in part by WeWork’s entrance to the markets there, according to Bloomberg. Citing a Colliers report, the outlet reported that WeWork and IWG have close to 78 percent of the flexible office space in the continent.

By the end of last year, WeWork reportedly had about 6.5 million square feet of space in Europe, a figure that surpassed IWG’s footprint.

But in many cities such as Paris and London – the latter of which is Europe’s largest flexible office market – smaller local players collectively have the largest slide of the market, according to Colliers. Some of those companies include Blackstone Group’s The Office Group and Germany’s Design Offices, which each has about 260,000 square feet of space.

“The IPO is a great milestone in the evolution of the flexible work-space scene,” Tom Sleigh, a Colliers flexible office industry consultant, told Bloomberg. “It’s a signal to other operators that they’re able to expand.”

In central London, WeWork has 50 locations, a number that made it the largest office tenant in the city, a title it also has in New York and Washington D.C.

The majority of European office space is centered on a handful of cities, including Amsterdam and London, Berlin, Rome and Paris. [Bloomberg] — David Jeans