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Move right on pointe, with ballet shoemaker poised for new era of expansion

03 February 2020

New purpose-built premises to be completed in Blaby this summer will launch international ballet shoemaker Freed of London into an exciting future.


The leading UK dancewear specialist has been hand-making pointe ballet shoes in Leicester for over 40 years and is currently celebrating 90 years in business.


Now the agreed sale of current city premises, marketed by leading commercial property specialist Andrew + Ashwell, opens the way for an out of town move to Blaby Business Park in new industrial premises of 27,500 sq ft that will double Freed’s manufacturing capacity.


The prospect of changed use in the sale of the two industrial buildings on Eastern Boulevard and Rydal Street generated substantial interest and multiple offers. It is likely that both sites will be transformed by redevelopment in this prime, regenerating city location.


The seven-acre Blaby Business Park, also marketed by Andrew + Ashwell, is close to the A426 Blaby Bypass and was purchased in 2016 for development jointly by Leicestershire-based Brackley Property Developments and Grange Commercial Developments. Design and build units here are constructed to high specifications, to occupiers’ individual requirements and with generous parking.


Freed of London is a world-leading designer and maker of professional dance and ballet shoes, delivering 250,000 pairs of pointe shoes a year to customers including The Royal Ballet, Ballet Rambert and The New York City Ballet, as well as extensive dancewear ranges and uniforms.


The company was founded by cobbler Frederick Freed and his wife in 1929, working from a basement in Covent Garden; the site on which the brand’s current flagship store now stands. The couple revolutionised the dance shoe industry by tailoring shoes to dancers’ specific needs. Pointe shoes continue to be made by hand in a highly skilled, ‘turn-shoe’ process, at the main factory in Hackney, East London, as well as in Leicester and Norwich.


Manufacture will shift to the new premises at Blaby Business Park later this summer, enabling the recruitment of further shoemakers. Production and Distribution Director at Freed of London, Stuart Garrard, is delighted with progress.


“The sale of the old premises allows us to expand and develop Freed business on a more efficient footing.


“Business is thriving and it has been hard to keep up with demand. Freed pointe shoemakers are specially trained over a 12-month period. The new premises will allow us to expand the pointe team from 11 to 30. We aim to build on close links with the textile design department at De Montfort University and there will be further ancillary and warehousing jobs to come.


“Our premises will feature an impressive reception area and a heritage centre telling the story of Freed and we also aim to embrace the local community in our expansion. It’s an exciting move and we can’t wait to get started.”


Mike Allwood, Partner at Andrew + Ashwell said: “The new Freed building is a scheme by Brackley Developments that will be the largest unit on the park when complete.


“The location is a perfect choice for business expansion, around three miles south of Leicester city centre and with fast M1 and M69 motorway access. The park also has the benefit of a large catchment community, for whom there are jobs on the doorstep.                               


“To date, around 65,000 sq ft of space has been sold, leaving only a single 6,800 sq ft industrial unit, already built and ready for occupation, as well as a block of new-build offices ranging from 2,500 to 15,000 sq ft.”