Page 44 - MarketTimesApril2020
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and was self-employed by the age of 20. He bought his first house, which he rented out, at 23 and by 28 he was employing 28 people.
Darren told Market Times that he had happy childhood memories of seeing the cattle in the livestock market, then walking through the butter market and soaking up the atmosphere.
So he got a shock when he visited the market after Herefordshire Council announced it was looking for a buyer over three years ago.
“It was in a really bad state,” he said.
Charles Nicholls, 81, who started his business on the market in 1966 and still helps out on his grandson Anthony’s domestic appliance and trophy stall, said the market’s decline was in large part due to the council’s lack of investment.
“They really let it get run down. When they decided to find a buyer the market hadn’t been painted since 1972. The only investment was in an ugly wooden ceiling
across the whole market which makes it dark. Darren is wanting to remove it and he is applying for a grant to restore the iron and glazed roof which would make a wonderful difference to the appearance of the market,” Charles said.
Finally the penny dropped with the council that something had to be done to redevelop the market, and after looking at various options Herefordshire Council and Hereford City Council invited interested parties to come forward with proposals.
Swayed by nostalgia and the desire to give something back to the community, Darren decided to approach the councils and eventually acquired the market.
Darren has an extensive property portfolio which includes two large industrial estates. He lives with his wife and six children in the former home of the Bulmer cider family where fallow deer and wallabies roam the grounds.
He had the resources to get the job done, including skilled teams of builders,
FEATURE • HEREFORD BUTTER carpenters and other trades people to
transform the building. And he had big plans to redevelop it as a traditional market with an arts and crafts hub on the first floor which incorporates a grand but faded Guildhall.
He wants to create a social hub on the second floor and an antiques and collectibles centre in the basement which is currently used for storage.
He reckoned he would end up investing £1.5 million in the project.
Moira, who is a businesswoman with a media and creative background, came on board at the beginning of 2018 and has concentrated on promoting the market through social media and attracting new food and craft-type businesses into the market.
“I knew the market because a friend of mine traded there,” said Moira. “It was very run down with a lot of empty units and it wasn’t very inviting.”
Moira took over the promotion of the
   Darren Sockett is the property developer who is transforming Hereford butter market
Local businesswoman and media specialist Moira Davidson has been instrumental in bringing new food businesses to the butter market and promoting it on social media
Matus Vojtek who hails from Slovakia has launched his new charcuterie business on the market, bringing the finest charcuterie from Eastern Europe to Hereford
  Joe Phillips who runs the long-established family butchers business on the butter market is pictured with his father, Michael, who still helps out on the stall

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