Page 27 - MarketTimesFebruary2013
P. 27

It’s a sight to gladden the hearts market had to look right and the
of everyone who loves markets
and market trading. Clustered around fourteenth century Bargate in the retail heart of the city, Southampton Market is a colourful hub of stalls that is regularly heaving with shoppers and buzzing with life.
It has an eclectic offering of food, fashion and all the traditional market lines. And most surprising of all, this is a relatively new market started in 2004 by Southampton City Council, which was not overly confident about its chances of success at the outset.
The market is run by SMT management consultants, the largest market operator on the south coast. Former market trader Paul Lewis and co-director James Shandley run a string of markets including Winchester, Alton, Christchurch, Shirley and Bitten, as well as specialist markets including Taste of the South, arts and design, and antique and collectibles.
It is their experience and knowledge of market trading and their hands-on approach that is behind the success of Southampton market.
Paul said: “I love markets and market trading. Street markets are what I am all about. But as a trader I could see the effect that supermarkets and big shopping centres were having. Markets should be in the centre of towns and cities, not in car parks. So in 1997 we set up what was originally a co-operative to counteract that effect and start the fight back.”
At times it has been an uphill struggle, but SMT has recently won the battle for Winchester market to take pride of place in the High Street and the experience in Southampton demonstrates that this is the way forward.
Paul said: “Southampton is my home city and we were already running a couple of markets in the suburbs and putting on specialist markets in the centre.”
So he was delighted to take on the launch and running of a new city centre market, which the council hoped would be a catalyst for regeneration.
The location of the new market is ideal. It runs from West Quay, one of the largest indoor shopping centres in the UK, along the pedestrianised Bargate. It is close to the bus station and within sight of the massive cruise ships whose passengers are encouraged to visit the market.
With such a good location and a wide catchment of potential customers, Paul knew that the new
 Paul Lewis runs SMT management consultants with his co-director James Shandley. They operate a number of markets in the south.
quality had to be spot on.
“We invested in green and white
gazebo stalls and from running markets we knew the best traders with the quality offering we were looking for,” he said.
There are 65 stalls and the market runs on Fridays and Saturdays, with a proposal to add Thursday as a third market day for a food-based offering.
Colin Jameson, who sells tobacco products, watches and jewellery has been on the market from Day One. “The first market was unbelievable. We were so busy we lost control,” he said.
Colin has been a market trader since 2002 and runs Poole Market for the council three days a week and trades another three days.
It’s a big contrast to his previous career as a high-flying banker working in Canary Wharf. “I love market trading. As I banker I was dealing with large sums of money but it didn’t compare with the £98 cash I took on my first day’s trading,” he said.
Sam Taylor, who runs Tubby’s Pet Food, also recalls the market launch. “It was a new thing and the response was very good. It is still a very busy market,” he said.
Sam Long, who runs the fruit and veg business started by her grandfather, Bill Long, who had a horse and barrow, has nothing but praise for Southampton market.
“All in all it’s an excellent market,” she said.
And David Singh, who sells British-made fashion on the market, agrees. “Paul is a really good market operator and this is a good place to work.”
Pitching butcher Perry Thomas travels from Birmingham to stand the market and is equally complimentary about the Southampton operation.
Amrit Singh, who has been selling footwear on the market for the past three years, is gradually building up his market business.
Mon Narumon, on the other hand, has seen her Thai Café business take off since starting on Bitten Market three years ago.
“I have been on this market for 18 months and I am loving it,” she said.
There is already a big following for her Thai specialities and word has spread to the cruise ships.
“My telephone number has been passed on and when a cruise with people from Thailand and other countries is due in I will get a phone call beforehand with orders for their favourite Thai dish,” Mon said.
 Sam Long runs the fruit and veg business (left) started in Southampton by her grandfather
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