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Premium co-working spaces akin to fully-loaded Toyota Corolla: Awfis CEO Amit Ramani

The flex workspace provider plans to set up at least nine premium centres spread across over 2 lakh sq ft across the country in the next three to four months. At least 30% of the company’s portfolio will be in this segment going forward

As corporates prepare to adopt the hybrid hub and spoke model as a part of their portfolio strategy, flex workspace provider Awfis has launched its premium segment called Awfis Gold and plans to set up at least nine centres spread across over 2 lakh sq ft across the country in the next three to four months, Amit Ramani, founder and CEO, Awfis told Moneycontrol.

These centres would comprise more than 5,000 seats and will be available in Grade A properties of metro markets such as Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chennai and Kolkata.

“This year we are planning to launch close to about nine such centres that will be spread across 2 lakh sq ft of space and over 5000 seats. We plan to have them fully operational in the next three to four months and the markets that we are targeting are Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chennai and Kolkata. We will also look at NCR and Pune later,” he said.

With the distributed workspace coming of age and the hub and spoke model becoming the new normal, “we felt that with our kind of experience and expertise in commercial space design and infrastructure and customer centric approach, we thought this was the right time to come up with a premium offering. Unlike a basic co-working space model, this is akin to a fully-loaded Toyota Corolla,” he told Moneycontrol.

“The changing times have ensured that companies across sectors realize the importance of well-managed integrated workspaces that provide Grade-A infrastructure, best in-class facilities and accessibility. Post COVID-19 many organisations are looking at an alternative to conventional offices that offer more than 500, 1000, 2000 seats and not deploy too much capital. That’s where this premium segment comes in,” he said.

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How does the Awfis Gold options sync in with the new normal Hub and Spoke model being adopted by companies?

These days most companies are looking at a mix of conventional offices and flexible spaces. Going forward, companies may look at a smaller base location that is smaller than a conventional office space as their lock-in agreements come to an end.

For instance, a company with 1000 seats in the Central Business District area may look at curating 600 sq ft in a flexible office space located in an A Grade building and the rest 30 percent may decide to spread across work near home opportunities.

“In this new normal as larger companies look at smaller base locations, we would want to provide this Awfis Gold option,” said Ramani.

The company currently has two Gold centres that are live – one in Hyderabad and the other in Bengaluru. At present two Gold centres are operational at Rajapushpa Summit, Financial District, Hyderabad and Prestige Shantiniketan – I, Bengaluru respectively.

Awfis has 90 centres and 51,000 seats across 12 cities and is heading towards 100 centres in the coming few months.

Premium offering not to be located in the same building as the basic flexible model

These are in Grade A and Grade A plus properties. “These are not in the same building and are not part of the same infrastructure. These are standalone new centres,” he said.

Awfis is also planning to simultaneously expand its basic offering of flexible office spaces.

“We will continue to expand our current offerings as well. They will exist in tandem. The Gold Centres will exist in key micro markets. Other centres will co-exist but not co-exist in the same building. Our plan is to not to have an entry level product in the same building and the gold product in the same building,” he said.

Awfis Gold will be a premium product where the infrastructure, the furniture, the meeting rooms, café will have a superior look and feel.

The Hyderabad property is 50,000 sq ft while the Whitfield property is 25,000 sq ft. Other properties are also in the range of 30,000 sq ft to 50,000 sq ft. The current centres have sizes ranging from 20,000 sq ft to 30,000 sq ft.

“The premium offering will typically be of sizes 30,000 sq ft to 50,000 sq ft and almost 30-40 percent larger than our current offering,” he told Moneycontrol.

The financials

Some of the capital being deployed in the premium offerings are from internal accruals and that received from the last round of funding. These properties are also in partnership with our landlords. For example, the Bengaluru Gold Centre is in partnership with Prestige. They Hyderabad property in the financial district and has capital deployed by Awfis.

“There are a few properties in partnership with the landlord, few properties where we will invest our own capital and few properties where we put in 50 percent of our own capital. But the model is not different from our current managed aggregation approach,” he said.

At least 30 percent of the company’s portfolio will be in gold properties going forward. Today, there are 90 basic centres that are live and are spread across 50,000 sq ft. This will increase to 60,000 sq ft in the next few months across 100 plus locations.

“As many as 30 percent of the portfolio will be in gold centres which is 25-30 percent higher than our basic model,” he said.

As far as rentals are concerned, from the standard to the gold offering in the same micro market, the gold offering will cost 25-30 percent more, he said.

The target audience for the premium segment will primarily be the large enterprises - both multinationals and domestic multinationals.
Vandana Ramnani
first published: Aug 4, 2021 11:49 am

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