Home Editors' Picks W Group aims to ramp up expansion this year

W Group aims to ramp up expansion this year

By Keren Concepcion G. Valmonte, Reporter

W FIFTH Avenue is one of W Group’s office buildings in Bonifacio Global City. — COMPANY HANDOUT

W GROUP, Inc., through its property management and real estate development business W Landmark, Inc., plans to expand its leasable area as its warehousing and industrial business seeks to attract more e-commerce companies.

“We’re looking to be able to double our gross leasable area (GLA) in five years’ time. The same strategy we did in office, we’re trying to do now in warehouses, in industrial space,” W Group and W Landmark Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Francis Augustus L. Wee told BusinessWorld in a virtual call on Dec. 20.

The company is eyeing loans to fund the five-year expansion plan.

“The banks are excellent partners, they are very supportive and they have seen what we have done with the [offices],” W Group and W Landmark President Norman Vincent L. Wee said, adding that they are also looking at other options for funding.

It is planning to further expand its office spaces in Bonifacio Global City (BGC) and other business districts such as Makati and Ortigas. Its portfolio currently includes five office buildings with a combined 177,103 square meters (sq.m.) in GLA.

For its logistics business, W Group is consulting its multinational clients on key locations.

“For logistics, it’s nationwide so we’re working with big multinationals to ask them where their preferred locations are,” W Group President Mr. Wee said.

The W Group said it is also looking to expand its landbank in areas such as Pampanga, Tarlac, and in Batangas. The company currently has around 100 hectares in its landbank, with properties in BGC, Clark in Pampanga, Batangas, Laguna, Tarlac, and Bataan.

W Group wants to eventually have 1 million sq.m. of GLA by expanding its office and logistics business.

The company’s office buildings, W Fifth Avenue (36,026 sq.m.), W City Center (59,032 sq.m.), Citi Plaza (49,163 sq.m.), W Global Center (9,592 sq.m.), W High Street (11,632 sq.m.), and W Tower (11,658 sq.m.) are all located in BGC.

The company said most of their tenants renewed their lease contracts despite the pandemic.

“[Our] renewal rates are higher. We renewed them at a higher rate even with the pandemic,” said W Group President Mr. Wee, adding that the company has received a lot of inquiries on renewals and expansion in the past few months.

W Group said “most, if not all” of its multinational clients such as Citi Bank, Google, and Globe Telecom, Inc. use the spaces as their headquarters.

“We’ve learned over the years what they’re looking for [like] high-ceiling, big floor plate, energy-efficient buildings, so I think those are the things that we’ve factored in as a standard when we design office buildings,” W Group CEO Mr. Wee said.

The company also said it continued to improve its buildings during the lockdowns.

“We took this opportunity to be able to improve [our maintenance] because there are lesser people during the pandemic so we were able to improve a few things that we couldn’t do when the building is packed,” W Group CEO Mr. Wee said.

W Group said it is also considering to issue a real estate investment trust (REIT).

“I think it’s always an option for us when we started [our] real estate business,” W Group CEO Mr. Wee said. “REIT is a good avenue for individual shareholders to participate in the growth and stability of that rental income, especially that we’re in BGC.”