Jugkarat Ruangratanakorn shares his firm’s ambitious plans for a network of regional flexspace “destinations”.
Flexible workspace isn’t new to the bustling Thai metropolis of Bangkok. The city already boasts 26 IWG locations, so when Jugkarut Ruangratanakorn signed a master franchise agreement in July 2021, he decided to look beyond the capital for opportunities to develop new centres. The aim? To meet rising demand for workspace close to people’s homes.
Jugkarut Ruangratanakorn is CEO of leading real estate business Ratanakorn Asset. The Thai nationality company has over 20 years’ experience developing real estate in the country, with a diverse property portfolio worth over THB 33,000 million, ranging from residential housing and retail to factories and hotels. Now incorporating flexspace, Ruangratanakorn says the firm intends to focus on regional hubs, from Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai in the north of the country to Phuket in the south.
IWG’s partnership with Ratanakorn Asset will deliver total growth of 40 centres, with the overall aim to open an IWG centre in every regional city in Thailand. The first phase will see the opening of five locations within the next year, with two in Pattaya, and one apiece in Chonburi, Siracha and Rayong.
Provincial markets and mixed-use spaces
Jugkarut and Dr. Jittima Ruangratanakorn say the approach to developing flexspace centres in provincial markets must differ to that for opening locations in central business districts. While the IWG brand is already well established in Bangkok and adequately served by a large population of high earning business leaders and professionals, a standalone centre in a smaller regional town or city may have a different kind of client base. In the aftermath of Covid-19, these workers may be reluctant to commute to company HQs but are hungry for local workspaces that offer a professional set-up - as well as the sort of peace and quiet that might be in short supply at home.
In order to boost occupancy from the get-go, Ruangratanakorn plans to open centres in some of his firm’s existing mixed-use developments. These include hotels, condominiums, shopping malls and other retail outlets – all of which should ‘feed’ customers into a conveniently placed flexible workspace. Such locations will empower people to live, work and enjoy their leisure time without the need to travel.
Ruangratanakorn believes that the future lies in providing people with easy access to everything they need. In his view, the concept of the 15-Minute City is crucial – and the role of traditional corporate HQs in our new, post-pandemic world of work will be very different.
“Businesses don't need to own offices or commit to long-term leases anymore,” Ruangratanakorn explains. “People are becoming more mobilised – you can work from anywhere. IWG therefore provides the perfect solution, allowing you to use your membership in centres around the world, even for just 10 minutes if needed. You can work any place, any time, anywhere and anyhow.”
Plans to expand
“Our vision is that we use the property and land we already have to expand the IWG portfolio outside Bangkok,” Ruangratanakorn says. “The first centre will be in the north of Pattaya, right on the main street and in the most commercial area of the city, close to department stores and shopping centres. It is also an area which has a lot of international residents – from Chinese, Korean and Japanese to Middle Eastern and South Asian, such as Indian and Pakistani.”
Ruangratanakorn adds that the north Pattaya centre will sit within the same development as a hotel, a restaurant and a supermarket. Its location on a busy street with car parking facilities means it is also easily accessible by road.
The second centre planned for Chonburi and the third in Rayong will both be located in the cities’ most vibrant commercial districts, sharing similarly diverse mixed-use buildings. The latter development will even feature a wellness centre and residential properties.
Expertise and support
Ruangratanakorn plans to oversee the running of the franchise while his team handles day-to-day centre operations, from design and construction to grand openings. He says IWG is providing them with expert advice on the flexspace industry as well as supporting them with marketing.
“IWG is the world’s largest coworking community, with multiple brands, and we joined it because we strongly believe in the flexspace business,” he adds. “By partnering with IWG and focusing on mixed developments, we can expand, grow and diversify our portfolio.”
Becoming a franchise partner is about more than generating profits, however. “Our goal is not just to create an ordinary office,” says Ruangratanakorn. “We want our offices in Thailand to be destinations for flexspace.”
Referring back to the importance of living and working locally, Ruangratanakorn concludes: “We want to create a sense of community too – an office environment where people feel they belong, whether they are Thai locals or foreign visitors. A place where you can come to have a coffee, make friends, exchange knowledge and grow your business.”
About Ratanakorn Asset
Ratanakorn Asset is a Thai nationality, real estate company owning the properties of more than THB 33,000 million with up to 37 property diversities for over 20 years, the properties are mainly located in Pattaya, Chonburi, Rayong, some center parts of Thailand through southern cities. These are Real Estate (Residence) 113 housing projects, Retail, Commercial building project development, Community Mall, 11 large of flea markets trade stall, Condominium, Apartment & Service Apartment, Airbnb, Hostel, Hotel, Resort, 8 upcoming collaborations with the world’s leading hotel brand—IHG®, ONYX Hospitality Group 3 Properties & Yoo Worldwide, 4 cooperation with the Ascott Limited of Citadines serviced residences & Domitys, Clean Energy and Infrastructure of Bangchak Corporation, Logistic Center, Warehouse, Education Center, Construction Materials & Prefabrication Factory, Construction Company and Heavy Vehicle, Construction Materials and Warehouse, 12 Factories of Organic Mineral Fertilizer Factory, Food & Beverage, Fitness Group, Self Storage, Startup & Tech Center of Hubba, Toilet Management, Finance & Investment business, Over 3,000 rai of Land Bank available to further development. All are continuously growing and announcing their long customer commitment into the modern world emphasizing to provide greater customer recognition and satisfaction while maintaining social and environmental friendliness to achieve sustainable business objectives.
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