Page 30 - MarketTimesApril2020
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30 MARKET TIMES • APRIL 2020 A modern-day market
 miracle in Cheshire
love to eat, drink, meet and chat.
The food and drink offer is phenomenal and the
vibe is warm, friendly and family orientated, with a play area for little ones.
And it is thronged seven days a week during its opening hours from 10am and 9am on Saturdays to 10pm every night except Sundays.
The adjoining Victorian covered market has also undergone a transformation and is now full, with the traditional food businesses boosted by new, craft and gift-type businesses.
And the open market, which was a little slower to take off, is now bringing significant new footfall to New Market Square.
It is fully occupied and busy in the depths of winter, but comes into its own in the warmer months when tables and chairs are set up in the new square and people soak up the vibrant market atmosphere.
But has it rejuvenated the rest of the town as planned? And what do the traders, new and long-
ALTRINCHAM’S markets have won national acclaim since a new operator took over their running and transformed the dismal old market hall into a foodies’ paradise, the covered market into a thriving enterprise and the open market into a new market hub.
But have they achieved their wider goal of providing the catalyst to rejuvenate this Cheshire town?
Nick Johnson, who established Market Operations Ltd with his wife Jen Thomson, is not your average market operator.
He is the former deputy CEO of Urban Splash, the regeneration company that has transformed parts of industrial Manchester. He formerly chaired Marketing Manchester and is also a visiting professor.
But a few years ago he decided to turn his back on the board meetings and committees and try to make a positive difference in his home town of Altrincham in Cheshire.
Nick Johnson and Jen Thomson
Gail Titchener works for Market Operations Ltd, which runs Altrincham market, organising publicity and events
Despite its affluence, the market town had been dying a slow and painful death. The once proud and busy markets were suffering particularly badly until Nick successfully tendered to run them six years ago.
Nick invested £200,000 in the venture, whilst the council ploughed in £500,000 to refurbish the market hall and £300,000 to provide the structures for a new open market in New Market Square just below Market House and the adjoining covered market.
The transformation has been nothing short of miraculous. The drab and dowdy hall, a listed building dating back to 1870, has been turned into a warm and inviting food hall with wooden food and drink units around the periphery and large wooden tables and chairs in the main space.
Despite the major setback of a fire early on New Year’s Eve in 2014, the new food hall has been a huge success attracting locals and visitors of all ages and walks of life to a place where they
   The Market House
 The covered market

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