Page 37 - MarketTimesApril2020
P. 37

 Wolverhampton Speciality Market is sitting pretty in its prime location in the city’s retail heart. Nicola Gould visits a thriving market that brings something
a little different to this West Midlands city twice a month
Wolverhampton speciality market is going great guns after the pri- vate operator LSD Promotions secured a new five-year contract last year and reintroduced a second monthly market day.
And the good news is that the success of the speciality market is helping, rather than hindering, the city’s spanking new market close by.
It all began more than 12 years ago when the city council decided to seek a private operator to run a monthly market following the success of a number of continental style markets held in the city.
Wolverhampton already had its own regular market which is a strong part of the city’s history and heritage.
It had moved from St Peter’s Square to a new site in 1968, with an indoor market in Hinton House and an outdoor one outside.
But the council was hoping to bring something new and different to Wolverhampton and LSD, the private operator that won the initial tender, did just that.
The Stourbridge-based operation, which runs a string of markets across the Midlands including ones in Stratford- upon-Avon and Gloucester Green in Oxford, launched a new farmers’ and craft market on the first Friday of each month.
The location, Dudley Street, was ideal. The pedestrianised street is the retail heart of town, with a Marks & Spencer and two shopping malls running off it.
Ted Perry from LSD, who has been involved from the start, said: “The market did well from the outset. The council was looking for a farmers’ style market as they were the thing a few years ago.”
But Wolverhampton is very much a working city with a strong identity and a multi-cultural demographic.
Farmers’ markets weren’t really in tune with the city vibe, so the monthly market
evolved into a “speciality” market, with something a little different and a quality, diverse offer.
It became a popular monthly attraction, with LSD’s bright gazebos and pro- fessional approach winning shoppers over.
And what of the regular market? As the year’s went by, the old market was becoming tired and looked unloved, until an ambitious multi-million pound redevelopment programme came to the rescue.
The scheme involved demolishing the indoor market and creating a new market opposite the Wolfrun Shopping Centre which has now become a link to Dudley Street.
Opened in July 2018, the new market features an outer wall formed from 20 converted shipping containers around 40 stalls under modern canopies.
Jo Till, the council’s general markets manager, said: “At the time I did have concerns that the new market was very near the speciality market and it could affect our market, but that hasn’t happened.
“In fact some of our traders stand the speciality market and they spread the word that shoppers who want to buy from them will find them on the new market,” she added.
Ted says that the two markets do appear to complement each other. Wolverhampton is an engineering city that has supported major industries in the past which has led to a multi-cultural demographic.
The markets are important to all Wolverhampton people, whatever their background. And these days they are spoilt for choice, with the new modern market with its staple of family butchers, bakers and greengrocers, and the speciality market offering something that little bit different.
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