Post-Brexit Dublin: the city of opportunity?

On a recent trip to Dublin, Relocate’s Fiona Murchie caught up with Staycity Aparthotel co-founder, Tom Walsh and found out how the city is catering for a Brexit influx and how Staycity is expanding fast in Europe.

Staycity Wilde Aparthotel
With an ambitious European expansion plan up its sleeve, Staycity has rapidly established itself as one of the leading pan European aparthotel providers.From its humble beginnings in Dublin, starting off with a single apartment in the city’s Temple Bar – a former recording studio used by the likes of U2 – Staycity Aparthotels has become an operator to be reckoned with. With a total estate (pipeline and operating) totalling over 4,500 apartments the company is on target to achieve its stated aim of 15,000 apartments by 2022.Staycity has announced the addition of six new properties over the next two years including Disneyland Paris (284 apartments), Venice (175), Berlin (48), four in Dublin – Chancery Lane (50 apartments), Mark Street (142), Little Mary Street (340) and Moss Street (202), and Manchester’s St Peter’s Square.

Responding to Ireland’s local market

Tom Walsh was buoyed by a very positive trading year and 12 months of significant growth, when we met in Dublin one Friday in February.Characteristic of what appears to be a relaxed leadership style, he admitted to ring fencing time at the end of the week for strategy and thinking.I was pleased to catch up with him in his home city and his passion for Dublin and Ireland was clear from the outset.It was a natural conversation and he was willing to share his thoughts on a diverse range of topics from rugby, to the implications of Brexit, the complexities of the Irish border and the frustrations of layer upon layer of local planning regulations.
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Choosing to work in a stylish but functional serviced office with gleaming glass, wooden table and modern touches, Mr Walsh personifies the business and lifestyle preferences of many of the international business travellers that are already flowing through the city and are set to rapidly increase over the coming years.“Dublin is our home market and we’ve been trading here almost on our own, maybe with one other aparthotel or serviced apartments company since we started in 2004. It’s a city of great opportunity, even without the additional potential that Brexit presents,” Tom Walsh explained.He alluded to the ease of doing business which had been extolled by the Irish Development Agency (IDA), various trade associations and think tanks at the Policy Forum for Ireland event held in Dublin only the day before. He explained that Ireland has “a very open economy and one that invites companies from all over to come and set up here. It is business friendly and non-bureaucratic, so it’s easy to open up a company here and be trading within a couple of days, as the red tape isn’t really getting in your way.”Not surprising then, that there is a regular stream of organisations arriving in Ireland as testified by the IDA website. It is surely no coincidence either that US owned relocation management company, Graebel Relocation opened an office in the city at the end of 2017 ready to service a potential uplift in business in Ireland following Brexit, as well as US and European clients wanting continued access to EU markets.

Irish style for Europe

Staycity’s latest and perhaps most ambitious development is their premium Wilde brand, which takes them to a higher price point and is inspired by the late literary giant Oscar Wilde, who was born in Dublin. Tom Walsh explained that Staycity is proud of their Irish provenance and the brand name of Wilde captures that aspect. It allows them to introduce Irish touches into the new Wilde properties, hints of quirkiness, local heritage and authenticity. Irish flourishes are reflected mainly in the soft furnishings and artwork. Tom Walsh and his team have clearly enjoyed taking inspiration from their native Dublin to evolve the brand.The Wilde brand will be rolled out across gateway city centre locations throughout Europe. The 106-room building on London’s Strand, close to the popular tourist attraction of Covent Garden, will offer a range of studios and double rooms over eight floors. Prices will start from £160 per room per night. The Strand will be followed by a second on Edinburgh’s historic King’s Stables Road, scheduled to open at the end of 2019 with Manchester and Berlin to follow.Wilde Aparthotels Edinburgh will, as its centrepiece, feature an arts facility incorporating a gallery and exhibition space. This will house art installations open for view to the general public. The space will present an impressive frontage onto King’s Stables Road and will aim to profile the work of local artists.

Dublin expansion

Staycity is seizing the moment to expand its home market.“It’s a big opportunity and we are on a major expansion drive in Dublin – it is a city with 21,000 hotel rooms, quite a shortage but there’s quite a pipeline to fill the shortage,” Walsh explained.“If you’re coming for two of three or more nights it starts to play to our particular advantages. Or if you’re on a relocation mission or some sort of project that’s going to last longer – or if you’re a frequent visitor and have to work in Dublin – even if it’s not a very long stay – the advantages of an aparthotel start to play out as it’s a kind of home away from home. You don’t have to interrupt your routine and go out for breakfast, lunch and dinner which adds to the convenience.”
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Describing the current situation and plans for the future he said, “We have just short of 2000 keys in Dublin but we have a pipeline that’ll bring that up to 2,500 keys or beyond. We know all the sites and the good locations and the people involved as well, and it’s a natural aspiration of ours to be the biggest player in Dublin. We start opening properties in Dublin at the very tail end of this year and early next year, we will continue to open through 2019 and all the way through 2020 as well.“We’re probably not the same as some of our competitors in the market and we’re very comfortable straddling the aparthotel/serviced apartment space. We are fully set up to take people for one-night stays. There is great demand here and we’re doing our bit to try and fulfil some of that demand with excellent city centre accommodation in Dublin.”Commenting on the company’s five-year business plan Tom Walsh said, “These aparthotels are all in fantastic locations and offer exciting opportunities for us to grow our brand and our estate. The company now has the right team in place to enable and facilitate this expansion.“This year will be a pivotal one for Staycity with several more deals about to be signed on sites across Europe, as well as the opening of our first Wilde Aparthotel.”

Think outside the box

Explore what the future holds for global mobility teams. Don’t miss our Festival of Global Mobility Thinking on 11 May 2018. The full-day interactive event will feature a host of speakers, exhibitors and roundtables to explore how innovation and new technologies are driving companies through a rapidly evolving business landscape. Book now.Gala Awards Dinner, Thursday 10 MayJoin us for a night of celebration at the UnderGlobe beneath Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, London SE1 9DT. Book here.
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