Singapore co-working space operator JustCo sees exponential growth in Japan

PM Lee Hsien Loong (right) with JustCo founder and CEO Kong Wan Sing during his visit to company's first Tokyo centre on May 27, 2022. PHOTO: JUSTCO
The JustCo centre in Tokyo, located on the 33rd floor of the popular Shibuya Hikarie mixed-use development, already has an 80 per cent occupancy rate. PHOTO: JUSTCO

TOKYO - Within just six months of its debut in Tokyo, Singapore co-working space operator JustCo already has seven locations that are either open or in the works across the sprawling metropolis.

And the company is poised to grow even further, with chief executive Kong Wan Sing telling The Straits Times that there is plenty of untapped demand.

"Looking at the market share of co-working spaces, it is only 1 to 2 per cent of the total office space in Japan. It is definitely not a saturated market," he said. "I don't need the other 98 per cent to move to flex - even if it is just 10 per cent - the existing operators cannot cater to the demand."

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Friday (May 27) visited JustCo's first centre in Tokyo, located on the 33rd floor of the popular Shibuya Hikarie mixed-use development that also houses a department mall.

"Good to see our home-grown enterprises making their mark in international markets," he wrote in a Facebook post after the visit.

The facility, which has capacity for more than 500 users, already has an 80 per cent occupancy rate and has among its clients Zoom and Pinterest.

JustCo's seven centres across Greater Tokyo are in Shibuya, Shinjuku, the Marunouchi and Toranomon business districts, as well as neighbourhood locations Kamata, Omiya and Funabashi.

Mr Kong, whose previous experience was in real estate, started the firm in 2011 after he saw potential demand for greater flexibility in office space.

The company has secured funding from sovereign fund GIC and real estate firm Frasers Property, and now has nearly 50 co-working spaces across 10 cities in eight countries and regions. Members can use any of its facilities.

The pandemic,Mr Kong said, was a boon for his business.

"More companies whose leases are expiring have made inquiries about moving into co-working spaces, as compared to the pre-Covid-19 era when they might think about renewing the lease," he said.

The company is now studying the potential for smaller-format flexible offices and work booths in Japan, where it is looking to roll out its workspace-on-demand platform Switch. The platform now has 10,000 desks across Singapore, Australia, Hong Kong and South Korea.

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