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John Jones to close Finsbury Park warehouse, with 'iconic' frame maker's to become office space

PUBLISHED: 17:56 23 January 2019 | UPDATED: 15:46 24 January 2019

The Arts Building, which houses John Jones, in Morris Place, Finsbury Park. Picture: Polly Hancock

The Arts Building, which houses John Jones, in Morris Place, Finsbury Park. Picture: Polly Hancock

Archant

The Finsbury Park HQ of an "iconic" family framing business is to shut, with its premises earmarked for office space.

The Arts Building, which houses John Jones, in Morris Place, Finsbury Park. Picture: Polly HancockThe Arts Building, which houses John Jones, in Morris Place, Finsbury Park. Picture: Polly Hancock

John Jones has sold its 50,000 sq ft Morris Place headquarters, The Arts Building, to property developer U+I.

John Jones founded his business in the 1960s and it went on to frame for the likes of Francis Bacon and David Hockney, as well as working with some of the biggest galleries in the national and international art community.

Islington’s economy and jobs chief Cllr Asima Shaikh (Lab, Finsbury Park) told the Gazette: “It’s disappointing they are going because they have had such a historical presence in the area.

“It’s also disappointing to hear that there could be redundancies, and we are in the process of trying to make contact to ensure there is an offer of support for any Islington employees.

The Arts Building, which houses John Jones, in Morris Place, Finsbury Park. Picture: Polly HancockThe Arts Building, which houses John Jones, in Morris Place, Finsbury Park. Picture: Polly Hancock

“I’m definitely interested in finding out what the future plans are for this building and ensuring it adds to the local economy and jobs.”

The Jones family have been approached for comment. The Gazette understands the firm has welcomed the council’s offer of support to employees facing redundancy.

Zoya Ahmed, a security guard at The Arts Building, told the Gazette: “It’s really sad because I’ve worked here for four years.

“It’s been the best environment to work in and [the owners] are really nice people.

The Arts Building, which houses John Jones, in Morris Place, Finsbury Park. Picture: Polly HancockThe Arts Building, which houses John Jones, in Morris Place, Finsbury Park. Picture: Polly Hancock

“But the company that’s coming are going to keep facilities and security in the building, apart from John Jones’ staff.”

The Gazette has asked the framing firm how many people it employs at Morris Place – it also has a team that makes the frames in Hertfordshire – and what will happen to them.

The frame maker has operated in the Finsbury Park area for decades. After gaining planning permission to develop the site, it moved into the six-floor Arts Building in 2014. Other businesses, like Push PR and software firm PreLoaded, also operate there.

It’s rumoured the business will cease trading on February 14.

The Walnut cafe occupied a ground-floor unit in The Arts Building until earlier this year, when it was forced to close due to high rates.

Emma Duggan, who ran it, told the Gazette: “It’s a shame it [John Jones] is closing.

“They were my landlords but I couldn’t keep up with the rent, so even though the business I had was successful and didn’t get into arrears we had no choice but to close it.

“Obviously they had a mortgage on that building and if there are empty spaces, including mine which has been re-leased, it’s affecting everybody.”

Matthew Weiner, chief exec of U+I, said: “We are pleased to have acquired The Arts Building – a warehouse-style building, just 100 metres away from the proposed new entrance to Finsbury Park Underground station.

“Working and living in London is fast becoming more about affordability and convenience over postcode, particularly for location-independent businesses.

“We are more connected than ever before, so it is imperative that the spaces we provide reflect our constantly evolving ways.

“With the wider regeneration projects going on in the area, these characterful offices will create not just spaces in which to work, but places where people will want to be, generating lasting demand and bringing further life to the area.”

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