Goldman Sachs-backed co-working operator Atlaspace has announced the appointment of Wilma Wu as the head of its Hong Kong operation, as mainland flexible office players set their sights on the city.
The company’s new leadership comes five months after the Guangzhou-based firm opened its first center in Hong Kong, and four months after the company closed its latest investment round, which valued Atlas at HK$6.8 billion ($866 million).
“I am honoured to join Atlaspace and trusted to lead the team to help our customers and partners to align their businesses around the future of work. Moving forward, I am keen to partner with our members and partners, start bringing insights and drive impacts,” said Wu.
In her new role, Wu will lead Atlaspace’s “overall strategic planning, business development, centre operations and product expansion in the city,” as the company vies to fulfill its goal of operating five million square feet (464,515.2 square meters) of space by the second half of this year.
Before moving to Atlaspace last month, Wu served as general manager of high-end flexible office provider Servcorp Hong Kong Limited, where she had worked for close to 16 years. She also brings more than eight years of experience at Hong Kong’s Shangri-La, primarily in the catering and event management departments.
“Wilma is well known in the industry and respected as a trusted advisor to customers. She has proven to be a strong people manager and business manager, striving to empower companies to transform. Wilma’s expertise in flexible office is an extraordinary addition to the company,” said Chen Sze Long, CEO of Atlas.
Atlas Builds Greater China Presence
Atlaspace was founded in June 2017 by Chen Sze Long, the son of the chairman of mainland developer Agile Holdings chairman Chen Zhuo Lin. The company now employs close to 1,000 people and occupies approximately two million square feet of space.
The company’s portfolio is distributed across 20 projects in Hong Kong and Mainland China, where it provides co-working spaces, serviced offices, and ancillary services under the Atlas Workplace, Atlas Living, and Atlas Community brands, according to an Atlas representative. The company has an additional four projects in Vietnam.
The operator raised an undisclosed amount from Goldman Sachs and PAG Real Estate in January 2018 and received a fresh round of investment from Guangdong-based developers Star River Group and Times China Group in October which valued the firm at $871 million.
While the company does not release financials, rents at its Tsim Sha Tsui’s Sun Life Tower location start at HK$8000 per workstation. According to a report by the South China Morning Post, close to 70 percent of the 50,000 square feet location had been leased in September of 2018.
Wu’s Upcoming Battle
Atlaspace is building its team as competition heats up in Hong Kong’s co-working market, which is now estimated to host 60 co-working locations and operators also face the challenge of leasing new centres in one of the world’s tightest office markets.
New York-based WeWork has opened five locations in the city and Hong-Kong based Campfire now operates five spaces in Hong Kong after raising an additional $18 million in funding last year.
Atlas’ mainland competitors are also starting to make inroads in the city. In January 2018 Ucommune leased a whole floor of Sheung Wan’s Grand Millenium Plaza, with a location in Kowloon’s Mongkok area on the way. Kr Space, a spinoff of Alibaba-backed tech platform 36K, will reportedly open its first location in Hong Kong at Wan Chai’s One Hennessey this year.
According to research conducted by CBRE, more than 78 percent of co-working firms in Asia are planning to expand this year. Of these 56 percent said adding locations was their main priority, as opposed to 35 percent of their counterparts in other parts of the world.