The co-working wars in Shanghai are heating up with the opening of the flagship naked Hub at Xintiandi. The 4,500 square metre (48,500 square foot) center is the sixth naked Hub opened in the city over the last 12 months, and comes just weeks after the Shanghai-based naked Group brought on board long-time Coach and Richemont executive Jonathan Seliger as CEO of its rapidly expanding naked hub division.
WeWork, which opened its first Shanghai location in November 2015, is expected to roll out its anchor facility in the city within the next few weeks.
Shikumen Co-Working at Xintiandi
naked Hub@Xintiandi takes up four floors of the building which formerly served as Shui On Land’s Xintiandi 88 boutique hotel, with the property having been refitted to provide hot desks, open offices and private offices for naked Hub’s “Hubbers.” To fit with the style of its iconic Shanghai location, the newly opened facility blends elements of the city’s traditional Shikumen architecture with modern office design.
Of course, co-working spaces are known as much for the extras as for the actual work and that’s why in addition to the 600 work desks there will be everything from wine tasting to a chess room at the facility. A suspended meditation space, multipurpose fitness area and a pool table are among other features. In keeping with the co-working vibe, the newly-opened hub’s pantry is stocked with free flow beer, coffee, and soft drinks for Hubbers to “chillax.”
Up Against The Largest Office Developer in China and a $16B Startup
What may be less relaxing is naked Hub’s pace of expansion and the rising level of competition in China’s co-working market.
After starting out with a single office facility last November, the naked Group has been among the most aggressive players in the Shanghai market. The company that made its name with its naked Retreats resorts, has since spun off naked Hubs into an independent business unit.
Seliger, who spent nearly four years as head of China for luxury brand Coach, and also ran the China operation of Richemont’s Dunhill brand on the mainland, was brought on board at the end of August to lead the expansion of the newly independent brand.
Coming from China’s crowded retail market, Seliger will need to keep his elbows sharp if naked is to thrive in China’s co-working competition.
In one corner is WeWork, the US-based co-working startup that received $690 million from Chinese investors during its latest round of funding. WeWork opened its first Shanghai location in June with a second location in the city set to open November 1st.
In the other corner is SOHO China’s 3Q co-working chain, the so-called “Uber for Offices” that CEO Zhang Xin and Chairman Pan Shiyi are hoping turns the office developer’s revenues around. SOHO 3Q already has 16 co-working facilities in Shanghai and Beijing. URWork, a co-working startup run by former China Vanke executive Mao Daqing, has also established 10 centers across China, and there are hundreds of smaller operators entering the space.
naked Hub Looking Beyond Shanghai
There’s only one co-working center at Xintiandi, however, and naked has two more Shanghai facilities — on Xikang Lu and in Gubei — also in the pipeline. The firm opened its first co-working space at Fuxing Lu last November and has since followed up with centers at The Century Metropolis, Hongqiao HUB and in the Zhangyuan neighborhood along Nanjing Xi Lu.
naked is also looking at expanding beyond its Shanghai comfort zone with Beijing and Hong Kong being considered as promising markets. While no official plans are in place, the expansion could take place as early as next year, according to the co-working operator.