As IWG’s first franchise partner in Italy, Cesare Lanati, CEO of BELL Group, will deliver 10 new centres over the next six years
Parma and Como, two Italian cities famed for their cuisine, landscapes, and historic architecture, will soon have something extra to boast about: their first-ever flexible office spaces.
The Regus centres, located just outside the city’s pedestrian zone, will each boast approximately 1,800sq m (19,375 sq ft) of space when they open in 2021. They will be the first of 10 centres to open over the next five years across the Emilia-Romagna and Lombardy regions, as part of an exciting franchise agreement between IWG and BELL Group, a Milan-based real estate service and development firm that manages every aspect of a real estate project.
BELL Group’s CEO, Cesare Lanati, says the centre’s proximity to residential areas taps into the increased demand from employees to work nearer to their homes and adopt a hybrid model that mixes remote and office work. In Italy and across Europe, this is becoming a model used not only by startups and freelancers, but also by large and medium-sized companies.
“People in Parma and Como will be able to have an office close by to where they live and it gives them the ability to work in a different place to home,” he explains. He says by filling a gap in the market for flexspace, people will no longer have to always commute to cities such as Milan to get the same state-of-the-art facilities and quality services.
A vital part of the conversation
Flexible workspaces and temporary offices were important before the pandemic, but since Covid-19 encouraged people to search for different ways of working, the industry has become a vital part of that conversation. Lanati wanted to meet his customers’ needs for flexible workspaces – and the solution came a year ago when he met with IWG to discuss its franchise programme.
“Before our partnership with IWG, BELL Group was already experienced in locating buildings to turn into offices and then managing them,” explains Lanati. “When I began to consider the possibility of working with a big brand, the main thing about IWG that impressed me was the fact that they have a great track record in the flexspace industry, as authentic precursors in the field. They also have obvious skills in managing the business efficiently on a national, local and international level.”
He adds: “Working with IWG offered a good opportunity for my business. The chance to become a partner would create opportunities for bigger things.”
Part of something bigger
A contract was signed in November 2020 and Lanati believes the partnership will be mutually beneficial. BELL Group will be able to provide the local knowledge needed to make a new regional centre a success, while IWG’s reputation as a global leader in the industry will boost the company’s own visibility in the market.
He describes it as a partnership “where the international meets the national”, and believes they share a common goal, with trust on both sides.
Although it’s still early days, Lanati is excited about the future of the partnership and hopes this is the beginning of a long and fruitful business relationship. “We hope there will be continuous growth, so after achieving all the milestones defined by the group and IWG, there will be the opportunity to develop this business further,” he says. “We hope that this is the first part of something bigger. We intend to be one of the most important partners for IWG.”
Lanati says that, while the rewards are great, becoming a franchisee is not something to rush into. Without in-depth knowledge and experience of the industry, it would be a struggle to meet the requirements necessary to partner with a highly prestigious company such as IWG.
“You need to know where you are going and what you are doing,” he says. “It’s a business that is so tied to results, it makes it impossible to do without the proper experience, the experience BELL Group already acquired thanks to more than 30 years in the field.”
Are you ready to meet the demand for flexible office space? Find out more about IWG’s franchising partnerships today