As co-working firms leave London, a new arriver plans to make a splash

Serendipity Labs has signed an agreement to license 12 locations in the city

National /
Dec.December 06, 2019 10:04 AM
Newable Flexible Workspace's Brett Million and Serendipity Labs CEO John Arenas
Newable Flexible Workspace’s Brett Million and Serendipity Labs CEO John Arenas

A flexible office space firm is entering the London co-working market, at a time when others are shuttering operations there.

Serendipity Labs, a company that provides on-demand office space in primary and secondary markets, said Friday that it has entered an agreement to license 25 locations in the U.K., including 12 in London.

The New York-based firm, which uses franchise and management partnership agreements with its landlords, will partner with U.K.-based firm Newable Flexible Workspace, a subsidiary of consulting firm Newable Limited.

“Through licensing arrangements, it’s a way for us to grow in an asset-light brand approach to this industry,” said John Arenas, a former executive at Regus, who launched Serendipity Labs in 2011.

London is considered among the most crowded co-working markets in the world, with close to a dozen major companies operating in the city, and a multitude of smaller firms. Nearly 5 percent of the city’s office stock is co-working, according to a Cushman & Wakefield report from April. The competitive landscape has prompted some firms to reevaluate their strategy there.

WeWork, the world’s largest coworking firm, is currently assessing whether to proceed on 28 new leases in the city, Bloomberg reported, as it plans massive job cuts in the city. Recently, San Francisco-based RocketSpace, told employees it would close its 1,500 seat London location by the end of the year.

“I dont think its a harbinger of things to come,” Arenas said of RocketSpace’s closure. “It really was an accelerator helping businesses.”

Serendipity Labs expansion to the U.K. overshadows the challenges facing other office space firms in the U.S. Aside from WeWork, which in recent months has taken drastic steps to salvage its business, smaller firms have also encountered disruptions.

Last month, New York-based Corporate Suites was briefly evicted from a Manhattan office building due to a payment dispute. And on Thursday, The Real Deal reported that Montreal-based firm Breather had laid off 17 percent of its staff.

In the meantime, Arenas said his firm is discussing similar licensing agreements with operators in Australia and Canada. He previously has said he plans to open as many as 300 locations.

Last year, Serendipity Labs entered an agreement with China’s largest co-working firm, UCommune, to serve as its U.S. partner, and open a location at 28 Liberty Street in Manhattan. In the U.S., Serendipity Labs currently has 37 locations in 29 cities.


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