Page 30 - MarketTimesDecember2019
P. 30

  Green light for new Chester market — but the old one is booming
  PLANS have been unveiled for a brand new indoor market at the heart of the £60 million pound Northgate Development in Chester.
But the big news is not the green light for the long-awaited new market, but the resurgence of the old market which has gone from 35 per cent occupancy to bursting at the seams.
The indoor market in historic Chester was built in 1967 as part of The Forum Shopping Centre, but time has taken its toll, which is why the Northgate Development plan was welcomed back in the 1990s when it was first mooted.
But traders became disillusioned as time went by and nothing materialised. Meanwhile the market began to look tired and uninviting.
So news that Cheshire West and Chester Council is forging ahead with the first phase of the development which includes a new market, a cinema, restaurants and a multi-storey car park at the back has been welcomed.
The contractor is expected to
be Vinci and tenants are likely to include Zizzi’s, Cosy Club, Tapas Revolution and the cinema operator Picturehouse.
Details of the second phase, which was originally intended to be retail, with House of Fraser the anchor store, are less clear and there could be more residential development than originally planned.
But at the moment the big story is the remarkable turnaround of the existing market.
Market manager Karen Bates said that instead of letting the existing market run down as the focus moved to the new development, the market team undertook a detailed look at its offer, the demographic of Chester, what people wanted from their market and what markets in other parts of the country had delivered to meet those aspirations.
“It was a very traditional market and hadn’t moved with the times,” she said. “The people who shopped here tended to be older and female.”
She felt the market needed to change to a new sustainable model offering consumers what
Market manager Karen Bates (left) and staffing manager Adele Thomas, pictured in the new seating area
Chester market was built in 1967 as part of The Forum Shopping Centre
they wanted.
As the market celebrated its
50th birthday two years ago, the market team pushed ahead with its vision of a different market and a number of traditional traders took the compensation they were offered and left.
Occupancy was now at just 35 per cent, but a major marketing campaign was launched to recruit new traders and Northgate Development agreed to invest in the market to entice the businesses that would be the bedrock of the new market.
The marketing campaign included a new website,
signage, flyers and creating a buzz on social media to attract the attention of bright new business people who would bring in new customers to the market including families, younger people and the large student population.
As is so often the case these days, the answer to the market conundrum seemed to be hot food and drink.
Staffing manager Adele Thomas said: “We were very lucky to get interest from a chef who had been made redundant and wanted to start a street food business specialising in

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