Naked am­bi­tion never re­treats

China Daily (Latin America Weekly) - - Business - By XU JUNQIAN in Shang­hai xu­jun­qian@chi­

South African en­tre­pre­neur Grant Hors­field al­ways be­lieves, and man­ages to prove, be­ing “naked” can be pretty and prof­itable.

And to­day, the 40-year-old co-founder of Naked Group, a big la­bel in the re­sort busi­ness in East China, is bet­ting big on the fu­ture of co-work­ing spa­ces in China, and Asia as well, as­pir­ing to get global cor­po­rate icons out of “their ugly of­fices” and into his much cooler and lively spa­ces branded as Naked Hub.

Late in July, Naked Hub, a sub­sidiary busi­ness of the Shang­hai-based group, an­nounced its merger with Sin­ga­pore co-work­ing space brand JustCo.

To­gether, they are go­ing to form Asia’s largest hot-de­sk­ing of­fice net­work, cov­er­ing nine cities in six coun­tries with a to­tal space of 140,000 square me­ters at 41 lo­ca­tions.

Talking about his re­cently de­vel­oped busi­ness in­ter­est in flu­ent Man­darin at his of­fice in Dalian, North­east China’s Liaoning prov­ince. Cur­rently, he owns two busi­nesses, the other be­ing Lin­den Busi­ness Con­sul­tant Co Ltd, a firm fo­cused on in­ter­me­di­ary ser­vices be­tween the two coun­tries.

In Jan­uary 2017, Hafeez took three Chi­nese com­pa­nies to Pak­istan and won a bid for a mu­nic­i­pal project in Karachi.

“The modes of think­ing as a doc­tor and busi­ness­man are dif­fer­ent, let alone set­ting up a co-work­ing spa­ces, Hors­field noted that re­sorts, as well-de­signed and pop­u­lar as they are, could ac­com­mo­date guests once or twice ev­ery year dur­ing their va­ca­tion. On the other hand, of­fices are the places that peo­ple spend the most time at out­side home ev­ery day, and most of them are “cu­bi­cles” or “gray boxes” that the na­ture-lov­ing en­tre­pre­neur dis­dains.

It was also his dire de­sire to go back to na­ture that in­spired him to start his hos­pi­tal­ity brand, or more pre­cisely a re­treat of his own from the hus­tle and bus­tle of Shang­hai where he used to work as a con­sul­tant, back in 2007.

To­gether with his girl­friend then and wife now, Hong Kong-born ar­chi­tect Del­phine Yip, they ren­o­vated a farm­house in the bam­boo for­est at Mo­gan­shan, Zhe­jiang prov­ince, for their own and friends’ hol­i­day at first.

But it grad­u­ally be­came a hot spot for both va­ca­tion­minded ex­pats in East China and young Chi­nese. com­pany in a for­eign coun­try,” he said.

To­day, Naked en­joys wide pop­u­lar­ity like well-es­tab­lished in­ter­na­tional brands such as Banyan Tree. It is now part­ner­ing with real es­tate de­vel­op­ers for ex­pan­sion.

For co-work­ing spa­ces, Hors­field ex­pects the merger with JustCo to boost the to­tal rev­enue past $100 mil­lion by the end of this year.

Real es­tate con­sul­tancy Col­liers In­ter­na­tional es­ti­mated that by 2030, up to 30 per­cent of the work­ing spa­ces glob­ally will be trans­formed into shared or co-work­ing of­fices. In Shang­hai, the fig­ure to­day is less than five per­cent.

From his side, he dis­played pas­sion, trust­wor­thi­ness and flu­ent Man­darin skills. The lo­cal gov­ern­ment of­fered sup­port­ing poli­cies, which helped Hafeez over­come cap­i­tal short­age eight months af­ter the com­pany reg­is­tra­tion.

He started a pro bono of­fice at the Shengheshu Uni­ver­sity Grad­u­ates En­tre­pre­neur­ial Park in Zhong­shan District of Dalian’s cen­tral busi­ness district, where an­nual of­fice rent works out to about 100,000



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