Boom in home workers lifts Regus profits

REGUS, the world’s biggest serviced office supplier, yesterday said it would open 200 new centres this year as it unveiled a sharp rise in annual profits.

Mark Dixon, chief executive, told City A.M. the company was benefiting from booming demand for temporary office space, as the growing number of people who work from home seek occasional use of its workstations or meeting rooms.

“There has been a big move towards mobile working. People are working ‘from home’ but they are not working ‘at home’ all the time. More and more people are dropping in and using our workstations,” he said.

Pre-tax profit nearly doubled to £45.5m in the year ending 31 December, on revenues that were up 12 per cent to £1.16bn.

Operating profits at centres that have been open for two or more years grew by 66 per cent to £107.7m, although its newer centres contributed an operating loss of £54.7m.

Regus opened 139 centres in 2011, including openings in nine new countries, taking the total number of centres to 1,203. Dixon said the group planned to operate 2,000 centres by the end of 2014.

The group said it would also open a raft of meeting rooms and business lounges at key transport hubs, such as train stations operated by France’s SNCF, Schiphol airport in Amsterdam and Shell’s UK motorway stations.

Shares in the group, which have added almost 40 per cent over the last three months, fell by 7.8 per cent yesterday to close at 104p.

Dixon attributed the movements to profit taking and jitters over the firm’s ambitious expansion programme. “There are those people who say we should run the business for cash, but we are intent on hitting 2,000 centres by 2014,” he said.