IWG Boldly Goes Where No One Has Gone Before

IWG Boldly Goes Where No One Has Gone Before
Jonathan Price explores the advantages of IWG’s “unblinkered” approach to expansion – and why franchises could be the best way to do it.
  • IWG has long understood that in ‘difficult’ locations, good office space is at a premium. 
  • That’s why Regus is launching new centres in under-served locations such as Togo, Libya, Guinea and Gabon. 
  • Jonathan Price explores the advantages of taking an “unblinkered” approach to expansion – and why franchises could be the best way to do it. 

Whatever faults Regus may have, lack of courage is not one of them, as demonstrated by its announcement of the latest countries it plans to open new centres. 

Togo, Libya, Guinea and Gabon are few people’s idea of a holiday destination and only hardy executives would volunteer for an ex-pat job in any of them, particularly war-torn Libya. 

What IWG has long understood is that it is precisely in ‘difficult’ locations that good office space is at a premium, if you can provide it. 

I well remember more than a decade ago travelling to Nigeria in the company of Landmark Offices’ Paul Onwuanibe, and being favourably surprised by both the quality of the space on offer and the price at which it was being sold. 

The key of course is being able to operate in an environment where basic services, such as electric power, cannot be relied on. Regus has plenty of experience in operating in Africa – once the centres in these four countries are in business, it will be present in more than 25 African countries, so it knows what needs to be done. 

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In the West we tend to focus our attention on developed countries, OECD members, and as a result pay too little attention to the rest of the world. Such a blinkered approach is unwise as there is a great deal of business activity in African cities and those businesses need office space, whether they are local or foreign. 

Africa is likely to become much more important this century because it is home to many of the minerals we will need in order to electrify our economies and meet our climate change pledges. 

In line with its overall strategy, IWG is expanding into these countries by granting franchises to partners, rather than by opening its own centres. 

Given the local conditions, that may be a wise move, as the local operating company will be responsible for dealing with the occupiers if the power is cut, something that is not easy to do from your base in Switzerland. 

Working with these local partners will help to boost local business, so the beneficial effect should be at least double-sided. 

Conakry, Libreville, Tripoli and Lomé will not only get high end flexible office space, but the local partners will get to work with a world leader in its sector. For that reason as well as for its corporate courage, IWG should be recognised for its decision. 

In Lomé, IWG’s office will be at 2447 Avenue de la Chance, so we have to wish Mark Dixon, “Bonne Chance” – Good Luck, with his latest global expansion. 

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