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WeWork’s offices are back in business

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The number of people using WeWork’s offices is back to where it was before the pandemic, but the provider of shared offices remains heavily in the red.

The American group’s occupancy rate — the percentage of its desks that are rented out — rose to 72 per cent between April and June, matching its pre-pandemic level for the first time. The rate had tumbled to as low as 46 per cent during lockdowns, as many tenants cancelled contracts and worked from home instead.

Its buildings, famed for their plush amenities, have started to fill back up. As of the end of June, the group ran 777 shared offices with 917,000 desks, while its membership numbers had climbed to 658,000. It also has 62,000 “all access” members, who can book a desk at any of its offices for shorter periods of time.

“Our second-quarter results demonstrate how the versatility of our offerings provide companies of all sizes with the ultimate adaptability,” Sandeep Mathrani, 58, WeWork’s chief executive and chairman, said. “As we head into the second half of the year, we remain confident in our proven ability to execute against our goals of growing revenue, increasing occupancy and continuing to drive towards profitability.”

Founded in 2010 by Adam Neumann and Miguel McKelvey, WeWork was once the world’s most-fêted start-up, with a peak value of $47 billion. It was forced to shelve a highly anticipated listing in New York in 2019 amid concerns over its business model and the leadership of Neumann, 43. He left the group, which was bailed out by SoftBank, its largest shareholder. WeWork was floated last autumn in a blank-cheque merger that valued it at about $9 billion — a fifth of what Neumann had been targeting originally.

Despite the improved occupancy rates, the New York-based WeWork remains unprofitable. Between April and June it generated revenue of $815 million — 37 per cent more than it turned over in the same period of 2021 and 7 per cent higher than between January and March — but that figure was shy of the $821 million analysts had expected and WeWork still suffered a net loss of $635 million for the quarter, also worse than forecast.