Page 28 - MarketTimesJune2016
P. 28

collapsed in 2008 when the financial crisis hit. So Karen Bates, the market manager,
understands traders’ concerns and explains that West Cheshire and Chester Council has a programme in place to support the market and its traders in the interim.
“We have up to 100 stalls in the market and occupancy is good at 90 per cent,” she said. “The council recognises the importance of the market to Chester. We have a family of traders under one roof and like all families there is a lot of comradeship and helping each other out, and a bit of bickering and disagreement.”
She believes traders can’t compete with the pound shops, but they rely on the quality, value and personal service they offer. It’s the market experience that matters.
The Northgate development will see the creation of a new retail and leisure quarter behind the town hall. The Forum Shopping
Centre, which houses the current market hall, will be knocked down to make way for the new development which will be anchored by a department store. There will be a neighbouring theatre, multi-screen cinema and library complex, and the new market will be in a market square, which will actually be circular, below the cinema.
“With two previous developments not going ahead, we understand that the traders are concerned,” Karen said. Traders are also worried about making the move, and Karen said every effort was being made to ensure they move straight from the old market into the new one.
The council is also investing in the old market hall to try to boost footfall before the new market opens. They are painting the floor and have recently created an events space.
“We want to bring in new blood to the
market,” she said. The council is offering training courses for traders in things like the use of social media, selling from a website and business planning.
She is trying to attract new shoppers to the market including university students and innovations like an antiques and collectibles event on a Tuesday are starting to bear fruit.
But it will take a lot more to allay the fears of some traders.
Ayub Mohammed, who has sold fashion and shoes on the market since 1983 and is Chairman of Chester NMTF branch, said: “This market has been in decline since 2010 because of things like internet shopping and out of town shopping centres. But the real damage was done in the previous two years with the planning application that created doubt about the existing market. Nearby offices closed and hundreds of people who
  Mark Johns runs Fernyhough’s, one of two impressive butchers on Chester market
  Ayub Mohammed has been selling fashion and shoes on the market since 1983 and is chairman of the Chester NMTF branch
Gill Stanley has been selling cards on the market for 30 years and is worried about the future

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