Flexible workspace provider, IWG plc this week announced plans for a large-scale rollout of its franchise offering for flexible workspaces in a further 14 countries in Africa. At the helm is Mo Nanabhay, who led the franchise start-up and successful launch of both the Pick n Pay and Sasol franchise concept in South Africa and Sub Saharan Africa. This, in an industry where the demand for flexible workspace is set to grow by 30% annually for the next five years according to Jones Lang Lasalle (JLL).
Flexible working is an encompassing term for the practice of working outside of conventional office hours and spaces. Flexible workspace providers offer a place where large corporates can place remote working teams, call centres or even their head office without the headache of fixed leases. SME’s, freelancers and other corporates also benefit from the all-inclusive plans, which means they don’t pay separately for utilities and can scale up or down with a month’s notice.
IWG brand, Regus, currently operates in 21 African countries. IWG, a global operator of workspace providers since 1989, said flexible workspaces are now becoming woven into the fabric of our societies, offering flexibility to businesses and their staff whenever and, crucially, wherever they need it.
Traditionally, franchises have been considered the preserve of the consumer lifestyle industries. Retailers, restaurants and hotel chains are first-choice for many property decision-makers looking to invest, because of the brand recognition that a lot of businesses in these sectors hold.
The IWG franchise model, the first of its kind, offers landlords, private equity firms, multi-brand franchise operators and high-net-worth individuals with the opportunity to buy into this lucrative market at attractive returns. Flexible workspace is also proving to be a solution to filling the many inner-city buildings that remain empty in current markets and prospective investors are afforded the opportunity to build a property portfolio while buying into the flexible working market.
With his professional reputation for getting things done and his extensive experience in franchising, retail and business strategy across African and international markets (Virgin, Pick n Pay and HP), Mo Nanabhay appears to be the perfect choice to break ground on this initiative.
Nanabhay says, “We’ve sold franchises in 5 African countries already with several discussions in other African markets and the big lure (apart from the promising returns), has been IWG’s proven business model and track record of performance in Africa, as well as our varied customer base – from large multinationals to small businesses, using Regus locations every day.”
The opportunities in Africa range from traditional franchise opportunities to master franchise opportunities depending on the location, and franchisees will commit to opening a prescribed number of centres in a period of 5 years.
“We are talking to several possible franchise partners across Africa which will be among the countries the franchise option will be rolled out to first. We are currently identifying partners in each country to collaborate with us,” Nanabhay adds.
He concludes, “Franchising provides the confidence of an established successful business model so entrepreneurs do not need to start from nothing or need to be an ‘employee’. The operating model is proven, demonstrably successful and opportunities for growth are significant on local, regional and national scales, especially with brands that are globally renowned and therefore benefit from good brand equity.”