The firm is aiming for 80 to 200 rooms per hotel, preferably in London’s Camden, Borough, Vauxhall or Southwark, but is not ruling out the possibility of opening its next venue in another big UK city if the capital’s real estate market proves too challenging.
“If we need to go to another city, we are thinking about Glasgow, Edinburgh, maybe Manchester. We would definitely find locations more easily in other cities as the London real estate market is the most difficult one, but everything has a timeline – if we can’t find it in the coming months then we’ll need to adjust our schedule and do another one somewhere else, and maybe the third one in London,” Business development director Paul Janmaat told BigHospitality.
He added that UK expansion was a logical next step, due to the company’s financial background – it is backed by a UK fund, but also because of the experience gained over the past eight months.
“We’ve gained a lot of experience now with the first one in London, and that will help for the second one, instead of moving to a different country and having to get knowledge on the local legislation and business climate.”
However, Qbic intends to expand further on the continent in the next three to four years.
The Qbic concept is based on a build-in construction method with a modular all-in-one furniture pod which is 20 per cent cheaper and 40 per cent faster to build than traditional hotel rooms. With a fit-out period of six months, pods are also easy to remove and can be used to fill empty office space for example.
Janmaat added: “Qbic is an incredibly strong investment opportunity for real estate owners and developers. It offers the best formula in the world to transform existing office space into high-margin, budget-economy hotels. Essentially, it’s a great way to fill empty real estate with a valuable concept that has already demonstrated high returns.”
Qbic London West End launched in November 2013 and has experienced sustained occupancy rates of around 90 per cent, with ‘great guest feedback’.
“We opened seven years ago in Amsterdam, but we needed the confirmation that what we had done in Amsterdam could be copied and pasted in London. There are always adjustments to make, for example coffee and tea facilities, which are not very common on the continent but are in the UK, so we always need to try and see what your guests’ reaction are and if they really miss it. Over the past eight months we have adjusted the pod with minor detail, but everything went pretty smoothly,” he recalls.
Previously office space, the London West End Qbic hotel offers room from £69 with free Wi-Fi on Adler Street in Shoreditch. Aiming for minimal environmental impact, the hotel has so far recycled 98 per cent of its waste.