It’s been an eventful few weeks for Convene, the largest provider of day-meeting and flexible-work spaces and a producer of hybrid and virtual meetings.
To start, in early April the firm announced that its first international location will open on May 3 in London, England. Joining Convene’s existing portfolio of more than 20 venues in Boston, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C., the newest facility at 22 Bishopsgate in London provides 51,000 square feet of meeting and event space. That space includes floor-to-ceiling windows and experiential design elements, plus an on-site kitchen run by Chef Matt Moran, a veteran of the London restaurant scene. The facility also offers Convene Studio, a virtual/hybrid event platform that can handle meetings of up to 10,000 virtual attendees.
One week after that news broke, Convene announced that it is combining its business with Hudson’s Bay Co., owner of the namesake department-store chain as well as Saks Fifth Avenue, in a deal expected to result in HBC building many more Convene facilities in both traditional office towers and former retail spaces it’s converting to offices.
With the large increase in available office space due to the Covid pandemic and the resulting shift to remote-work arrangements, HBC chose to take a majority stake in Convene and, along with financial partner Ares Management, will now invest hundreds of millions of dollars to grow Convene’s presence in the U.S. and Europe. In total, the deal is worth about $500 million, according to The Wall Street Journal.
“With this transaction, Convene will expand its footprint into suburban markets, where people can work and meet closer to home,” said Hamid Hashemi, COO of HBC Properties & Investments. “Right now, Convene is a tenant in somebody else’s property, paying rent. You’d be better off just paying that rent to yourself.” Convene will operate HBC’s existing portfolio of three SaksWorks facilities, which are flexible work, meeting, event, and restaurant spaces set within former Saks stores; these will eventually be rebranded as Convene. There are plans for the company to buy new buildings as well.
Ryan Simonetti, Convene’s CEO, will lead a new management team for the combined entity. "As organizations continue to embrace hybrid work and are demanding higher-quality environments in which to gather, we are well positioned to seize this moment," he said.