High-end Singaporean co-working provider The Great Room is venturing into Hong Kong for the first time by leasing a full floor in Swire Properties One Taikoo Place project in Quarry Bay, according to a revelation today by Swire’s head of office properties, Don Taylor. The CapitaLand-backed flexible workspace operator is also opening its first overseas location in Bangkok next week.
“We have been very discerning in our choice of operator for flex space (for One Taikoo Place), and fortunately they are in the room today, the Great Room from Singapore,” Taylor said during a panel discussion at the Urban Land Institute APAC Summit in Hong Kong. “It provides a sort of service that is commensurate to the tenants that we’ve attracted down to Taikoo Place,” Taylor added.
The Great Room, whose co-founder Jaelle Ang was attending the panel discussion, has leased the 23rd floor of One Taikoo Place for their initial Hong Kong foothold, with the 20,000 square foot (1,858 square metre) space set to open in tandem with the office project’s in the fourth quarter of next year.
Helping Eastern Compete with Central
The Great Room has worked closely with Swire in developing its facility at One Taikoo Place, and the amenities in the new space are intended to serve as a selling point for the prime office property. “We really think of it as providing a third space and the amenities for the building and not just our members. So it’s a deep and aligned partnership mindset with developers like Swire to create the right offering to really attract the guys who traditionally used be in the best of Central,”said Jaelle Ang, CEO of The Great Room during an interview with Mingtiandi.
Beyond basic amenities like private telephone booths and a kitchen, The Great Room’s first location at One George Street in Singapore was designed by international design firm Hassell complete with leather-covered chairs, brass-finished shelves, shower facilities for members and and even a yoga studio.
The Great Room’s CEO expects their Hong Kong centre to achieve a bespoke fit with Swire’s 48-storey office tower on eastern Hong Kong Island. Having just topped out in February this year, the blue chip developer’s latest project has already secured namebrand multinationals, including Facebook and Baker McKenzie, as tenants. Swire is said to be asking rents of HK$50-70 ($6.4-9) per square foot per month for the property.
Co-working Provider Aims to Partner With Developers
While many analysts perceive co-working providers as competitors to traditional developers, The Great Room aims to partner directly with landlords to help create flexible office spaces. “The opportunity I saw was to build this world-class management company that will work for and with developers or asset owners to manage their premium office assets, much as Four Seasons Hotel Group manage hotel assets for developers,” said Ang. “It’s a different starting point from a lot of operators, we started with me wearing the developer’s hat solving a problem — why let somebody disrupt us? Why don’t I do it?”
In terms of clientele, the co-working space operator targets more mature companies. “Our community is more “grownups” than startups — companies who need the enterprise-level infrastructure but they also want the soul and creativity of startups. They want to have it all, so we address that need,” Ang added.
Opening in Bangkok With Plans for Shanghai, Tokyo and Seoul
Founded in 2016, the flexible office brand has three locations in its home city of Singapore and is opening its Bangkok location next week opposite the city’s Erawan Shrine as its first overseas foray. The centre in the Thai capital spans two floors in the Gaysorn Tower on Ratchadamri Road and will provide a base for tech tenants including Facebook, Line and JD.com, according to Ang.
The Great Room is also seeking to boost its presence in north Asia by setting up centres in Shanghai, Beijing, Tokyo and Seoul as early as next year, said Denise Tan, Head of North Asia for the company. As in Hong Kong, the The Great Room is interested in adding more offices to its portfolio in districts like Central, Admiralty and Causeway Bay, Tan added.
“Hong Kong is a key market for us and we see an attractive membership to grow The Great Room brand, as well as a savvy investor base for our growth capital here,” Ang said.
To support its growth, The Great Room is raising a series B funding round, said Ang. It reportedly raised more than S$5 million in its series A funding closed in September last year. The previous funding round was led by CapitaLand’s corporate venture fund, C31 Ventures, with participation from Singapore-based venture capital firm iGlobe Partners and the family office of car rental company Goldbell Group.