Last updated July 9th 2015
Brits and tourists alike are in for a surprising new shopping experience at one of London’s popular tourist attractions. The historic Camden Market, which is famous for its offering of arts and crafts, is about to get a cutting-edge digital overhaul by its owner, Israeli billionaire Teddy Sagi.
Sagi’s Market Tech Holdings, which owns the majority of the market (about 14 acres), recently announced it would roll out a plan to digitalize retail and revamp e-commerce at Camden, which is located in Camden Town just north of the ZSL London Zoo.
No more market stalls?
Camden Market’s historic shopping stalls, which sell everything from souvenirs to vintage clothing, have remained unchanged for decades, attracting millions of tourists looking for an authentic shopping experience featuring 800 retailers.
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But since Sagi bought large chunks of the market early last year, Camden has been en route to becoming a modern mixed-use site that will not only include shopping, but also a boutique hotel, offices and even a startup hub.
Sagi plans to attract startup and high tech companies to the site, offering them shared office space. “Two of the new buildings in the market are currently being fitted out to house a new and exciting co-working concept, which will complement the current vision and create an incubator of vibrant, productive and creative community of startups and young businesses,” the company states in its annual report. The space is expected to house roughly 1,000 work stations.
As for the boutique hotel, it’s currently being designed by the award-winning AHMM, one of Britain’s top architectural firms. Its architects are drawing plans for the scheme, which will start public consultation in the coming months. A planning application is scheduled to be submitted later this year.
From online gaming to real estate, Sagi takes London by storm
Sagi’s Market Tech Holdings acquired Camden Market (a number of adjoining large retail markets) in 2014 for roughly $650 million. It later bought additional adjacent buildings to expand Camden Market. Most recently, the company announced it would develop a hotel at the site.
Sagi, the founder of giant gambling software developer Playtech (now worth $2.73 billion) has acquired several startup and high-tech companies since he founded Playtech in 1999, including Crossrider, which uses big data to analyze digital advertising. In recent months, his holding company Market Tech has acquired several other e-commerce businesses, in order to enhance its online platform and bring the market into the digital age.
The purpose is to bring additional online and mobile traffic to Camden Market through different apps and platforms that are now in development. A unique mobile wallet is being rolled out, and will ultimately allow for cashless payments at Camden. “We have already commenced reinvigorating the unique Camden experience and truly believe that this unique real estate opportunity, combined with a world-wide integrated e-commerce strategy, has created one of the most exciting opportunities in the UK – for retailers and shareholders alike,” Market Tech CEO Charles Butler said in a statement.
Market Tech chairman Neil Sachdev added: “We have started to put the building blocks in place to turn our vision of a Camden ‘eco-system’ – synergizing online and offline platforms – into reality.” According to Sachdev, the company’s new online platforms camdenmarket.com and market.com “will enable us to offer products from our 800 existing Camden Market tenants to a global customer base.”
Sagi’s other startup acquisitions include Israeli startup Stucco Media, which operates an e-commerce marketing platform and will enable Market Tech to reach a global customer base; and mobile marketing firm Glispa, responsible for the e-wallet.
With free Wi-Fi throughout Camden and the imminent launch of the Camden market mobile app, “we will be in a position to further understand the needs and demands of our customers and engage prior, during and after their visit to Camden Market,” the company’s financial report stated. “We have now launched our online marketplace on camdenmarket.com for retailers both in our markets and similar creative retailers outside our markets to sell and distribute their products to a global audience.”
Market Tech also intends to integrate physical stores into an online market hub. This will include storage, a logistics center and distribution services for retailers.