New bosses of Camden Market want end to ‘copycat traders’ as stalls head to stock exchange
- Credit: Archant
New owners of Camden’s iconic markets have moved to reassure stall holders they won’t be pushed out by big money after announcing they are to be floated on the stock exchange.
Bosses at Market Tech Holdings, which owns Stables Market, Camden Lock Market and Buck Street Market, revealed this week they will be listing their company on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) in a bid to raise £100million.
The surprise move for what is often described as a Mecca for alternative culture comes after owner Teddy Sagi completed his buy up of all the main market sites in October.
The Israeli billionaire and tech entrepreneur’s company, which owns 11 acres of real estate in Camden, is now valued at £750million.
The money raised from investors will help propel his five year plan that sees significant redevelopment, including a £300million project at the Hawley Wharf site currently earmarked for new offices, homes and a school.
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Mr Sagi will also be using the added investment to expand Market.com – an e-commerce site for traders to sell their wares online.
Charles Butler, chief executive of Market Tech Holdings, told the Ham&High: “The key message we want to get across is nobody is taking money out of Camden, it’s being invested.
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“The money raised will be used to improve the experience for traders and shoppers.
“Rather than being a passive landlord, we will also be looking to embrace independent retailers. What people don’t want to see is something they can find on any high street.
“The floatation is very positive for Camden.”
Mark Alper, the company’s property director, added: “Over the years Camden has lost the artisans of the 1970s. We want to bring them back.
“Copycats selling t-shirts and mobile phone covers are the last thing we need here.”
The Ham&High spoke to a number of traders complaining the markets had become “too touristy” and fearing the floatation could mean rising rents.
Arman Umar, 68, owner of a home decor store in Stables Market, said: “If the market continues to go the way it is I don’t think it’s viable for small businesses. Rents are astronomical and people are forced into selling low value commercial products.
“It’s become more of a tourist attraction rather than a place for attracting serious buyers – artisans cannot survive.”
Carla Frade, 44, owner of Casa Mia, added: “The locals don’t come anymore. Mr Sagi will need to do a lot of marketing to bring people back.
“We are not very stable here as it is.”
Bosses at Market Tech Holdings said the return for new investors would come not from higher rents but “additional traders and the online portal”.
Simon Pitkeathley, chief executive of business group Camden Town Unlimited, said: “In the past we’ve struggled with the fractured ownership of the markets, so now having a single owner is potentially a really good thing.
“The owners seem to want to reintroduce the market to Londoners, so we are cautiously optimistic about this new direction.”