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WeWork May Soon Enter The Retail Sector

WeWork is preparing to launch its own brick-and-mortar retail concept.

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Though the plan remains somewhat hazy, sources told The Real Deal that planning for WeWork's venture into retail has been underway for the past six months and is becoming a priority for the company. Sources said the retail model could resemble the company's co-working model in which furnished spaces are rented to retail tenants on short-term leases.

WeWork has been branching out into a number of different industries as of late, and this is not the $20B company's first foray into retail. Along with private equity firm Rhone Group, the co-working giant recently acquired the Lord & Taylor building in New York from Hudson’s Bay Co. with plans to convert the 650K SF building to its headquarters after the holiday season. The Lord & Taylor space will be renovated and condensed to about 150K SF on the first three floors and WeWork will occupy 500K SF on the top eight floors.

In addition to purchasing the building, WeWork and Rhone agreed to invest $500M in preferred shares in HBC. As part of this deal, WeWork will convert the top floors of several of Hudson Bay's 480 department stores into office space. 

The company has also made a series of investments as of late, including the acquisition of the Flatiron School and the launch of a pilot program for an elementary school called WeGrow. WeWork also emerged as one of the largest investors in a Series B round of fundraising for a women's only co-working concept, The Wing.