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Small businesses seek less room to maneuver (2)

(China Daily)

09:41, October 31, 2011

Unlike building owners, these suppliers divide workplaces into small units and welcome small enterprises. However, the price they charge is not so small.

Shi pays 15,000 yuan ($2,349) a month for her offices - about twice the rate it would have been had she been able to rent directly from the building's management.

Nonetheless, Shi said it is still a good deal because her small firm is located in a grade-A office building in the heart of the city.

"We offer an opportunity to small enterprises that high-end office building managements do not," said Zhang Peng, China's area director for Regus PLC, the world's largest workplace supplier by market value, based in Luxembourg.

Most of its customers are small and medium-sized enterprises that require flexible contracts, Zhang said, adding that lease terms can be anything from one day to one year and customers can rent workplaces of different sizes from just a seat and desk to an entire floor.

Several workplace suppliers based overseas entered the Chinese market in the mid-1990s and have recently expanded fast.

Regus, which has more than 1,100 business centers in 500 cities and 88 countries, entered China in 1995 and now operates 45 business centers in 10 Chinese cities.

"The average usage of our nine centers in Beijing is about 96 percent," Zhang said. "That means demand exceeds supply in what is a large market."

Hans Leijten, regional vice-president of east Asia Regus, said: "We expect demand for our workplace solutions to rise further and we intend to expand our presence in China's big cities and second-tier cities."

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