Major London TV studio to close its doors
Wembley-based Fountain Studios is set to close following a deal in which the land has been sold off to property developers for £16m.
Established around twenty years ago, Fountain is billed as the UK’s largest fully equipped television studio, and has become synonymous with massive shiny floor entertainment shows such as Britain’s Got Talent, The X Factor and The Cube.
Its construction enabled incoming productions to either use one giant space of 13,000 sq ft or have the site divided by a large soundproof wall into two spaces of 6,500 sq ft each.
The news of the closure came in an official announcement from owners Avesco Group plc, in which it was stated that Avesco’s subsidiary, Fountain Television Limited, “has exchanged contracts for the sale of the freehold land and buildings at its television studios in Wembley (the “Studios”) to Quintain Wembley Fulton Road Limited, for a consideration of £16 million, payable in cash.”
Although the deal stipulates that Fountain can lease back the premises from the buyer at a nominal rent for up to five years, this can be terminated by either party with up to six months’ notice, with effect from 31 December, effectively paving the way for closure.
The statement also said that a consultation is now underway with studio staff.
Avesco chairman Richard Murray said: “Fountain Studios and its outstanding team of people have a long and proud history of television programme making in Wembley and the studios have over the years been home to many very successful television shows. However, the physical constraints of the Wembley site have limited Fountain’s ability to grow while at the same time property values in Wembley have increased substantially.
“The disposal of the Fountain site will enable the group to reduce its net debt to very modest levels and, as a Board, we believe that a far better return on capital is now available from investment in other parts of the Group where there are greater opportunities.”
The news is a blow to large scale TV production in London, coming at a time when demand for more TV studio space in London and the south east is growing. After the closure of Teddington and Waterloo studios, reports just over a year ago outlined plans for a dedicated studio complex on the Millennium Dome site.
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