North London becomes honey pot for creative industries as snowballing effect sees more and more shunning soaring rates and inflexible leases around the capital’s midpoint
An internationally acclaimed content production and localisation agency has left the soaring rates and inflexible leases of central London behind and migrated north to a base in Hackney, potentially sparking a trend for other kindred industries to follow suit.
Zebra Worldwide, which works with some of the world’s most iconic brands, relocated its HQ from Oxford Circus to 23 Englefield Road in De Beauvoir Town, which is part of the Benyon Estate portfolio, this month. The Zebra team’s stampede north was instigated by the company’s rapid expansion, 40 per cent in 18 months, which coincided with rate and rent increases around London’s midpoint.
Already home to many creative professionals in other artistic industries, De Beauvoir Town is fast becoming a honey pot for creatives to set up shop; in a snowballing effect, as more creative industries base themselves in the north, more are following suit.
The nearby De Beauvoir Block, a network of 33 units in an industrial building recently regenerated by the Benyon Estate, has become a creative hub, attracting a range of creative industries including Alexa Chung’s fashion label, brand consultancy and art direction studio Assembly, which was previously based in Covent Garden and creative brand developers Carl Nas Associates, previously based in Bloomsbury.
Formerly a storage facility for Soul Jazz Records, 23 Englefield Road was boarded up for almost a year-and-a-half while it underwent extensive redevelopment ahead of the Zebra team moving in. And while there are many related industries in the area, Zebra is thought to be one of the first production and post production agencies to make the bold move north.
Sarah Rose, Zebra’s Finance Director, said: “Production and post production agencies have traditionally gravitated towards Soho and the West End, so we’ve taken a calculated leap of faith in coming out of central London in search of a cost-effective space with character and a level of finish that reflects our values.
“We are confident that it is just be a matter of time before others follow.”
In 2016, research by multinational professional services firm EY (formerly Ernst & Young) found that commercial property rents in London had risen by 70 per cent in five years.
“The company expanded rapidly in such a short space of time, we suddenly found ourselves having outgrown our offices,” continued Sarah. “And this coincided with Westminster rent and rate increases which made our old office more than £100 per square foot.
“This simply didn’t represent value for money and we didn’t want to pass cost increases on to our clients, so we started looking further north and found this beautiful Victorian building.
“It is almost impossible to find flexible, short term leases in London so the fact the lease at Englefield Road offered both value and flexibility was a huge draw and will allow us to scale up when required.”
Zebra started out life in Soho in 2005 with two co-founders. Numerous office moves ensued over the years to keep up with the team’s expansion and Zebra now has a 70-strong team with offices in Paris, Kiev, Majorca, Cape Town and Sydney.
The team produce and localise TV commercials and marketing content for brands including Reckitt Benkiser (Gaviscon, Vanish, Optrex, Bonjella), Hasbro (Monopoly, PlayDoh, Transformers Trivial Pursuit, My Little Pony) and Ryobi Powertools, as well as lifestyle content for broadcasters including the BBC and Channel 4.
The two-storey Englefield Road space houses the company’s production offices and post production studios blending contemporary design with early 20th century period features including a lofty A-frame roof, original iron radiators and bay windows.
“We were trying to look for an area that’s shown growth and regeneration and is an attractive proposition to creative industries,” added Sarah. “So we’re a bit ahead of the curve in moving in to an area that’s up and coming.
“We’re not at the point where we’re surrounded by similar companies, but there are more and more related creative industries already in the vicinity so there are exciting professional and social opportunities associated with relocating here. This was very attractive to us when considering our move. And socially, the location has a lot to offer.”
Edward Benyon, Estates Director at the Benyon Estate, added: “We’re extremely pleased to be able to offer flexible conditions for our commercial tenants to enable them to thrive in our properties.
“It is a pleasure to facilitate the move of an ever-growing number of creative industries to De Beauvoir Town.”