Memorandum by Market Place [Europe] Ltd
In response to the specific questions contained
in the email dated 9 January 2009 from Mr A D Griffiths, 2nd Clerk
to the Committee, Market Place [Europe] Ltd. wish to put forward
the following views and opinions:
1. How has the picture changed over the past 10
Generally markets are in decline although there
are some exceptions which prove the rule. The rate of decline
is detailed in the Rhodes Report. However, in periods of recession,
markets have generally fared better than other sectors of the
2. Are the number and types of markets in decline?
If so, why?
The numbers are in decline but there is an increase
in specialist, niche markets. There are too many reasons for the
decline to list in this response but out of town shopping and
the increase in the number of bargain shops have been important
contributory factors. Markets have found it difficult to respond
to changing retail pressures over the last 20 years.
3. Are there obstacles preventing the creation
of more markets?
Noexcept in London where the London Corporation
Act prevents LA's from generating a profit from their street "markets".
It is therefore not viable for the street "market" operator
in London, invariably the L A, to engage dynamic, innovative management
which could invest in and improve the "market".
At this point we feel it important that the Committee
fully appreciate the difference between the vast majority of markets
operated throughout the country and those operated in London.
Elsewhere in the country markets are created by several methods,
primarily being by Royal Charter, Prescriptive Rights or by Statutethe
latest being the 1984 Food Act. The operator is permitted to apply
realistic commercial charges to the traders and such profit generated
can be re-invested in the market or used to provide other benefits
for the local community.
In London, the street "markets" are not
strictly markets in the legal sense of the word. They consist
of a number of individual Licenced Street Traders [licensed under
the London Corporation Act] who all congregate together at the
same time and place to give the outward appearance of a market
to all intents and purposes. The crucial difference here is that
the L A can only recoup certain basic operational costs and cannot
derive a profit from the operation of the "market".
As such London L A's often regard their "market" as
a necessary nuisance which they would rather not have to deal
with and accordingly allocate the minimum resourcesoften
of indifferent qualityto manage and develop the "market".
A change in the legislation allowing London L A's to generate
a profit from their street "markets" would directly
lead to greatly improved operational management and make investment
on the infrastructure of such "markets" a more realistic
4. Are there obstacles hindering the successful
business of existing market operators and traders?
Noother than the confines of the London
Corporation Act referred to above.
5. What has been the impact of specialist markets
eg continental and farmers markets, and do such markets integrate
successfully with older markets?
The Rhodes report states that where occasional specialist
markets exist within a town or city the rate of decline of the
traditional market is far less and in some cases negligible, as
opposed to those towns and cities which do not have such specialist
markets. However, due to the temporary nature of such markets
where the stalls are erected and dismantled each day they do not
easily fit into traditional markets where the stalls are of a
permanently erected nature.
6. What social and economic effects do traditional
retail markets have on their local communities?
The social and economic effects of markets are
enormous but sadly mostly unquantifiable. Attempts have been made,
mainly by L A's, in the past to create benchmarks to quantify
such benefits but all to no avail. Estimates as to the national
economic benefit vary from £1.1 billion to over £3 billion
per annumthereby highlighting the difficulty in quantifying
As regards continental markets operated by MPEL we
can accurately demonstrate that the four day market held in Sheffield
City centre attracts an additional 100,000 persons to the market
site each event.
Of greater impact to a City is that of Belfast where
the 29 day Christmas market operated by MPEL is now a major factor
in the economic vitality of the city. The 2006 Events Evaluation
Report [the latest available report] conducted by Messrs. Millward
Brown, Ulster, commissioned by Belfast City Council, states that
the event attracted some 250,000 visitors over the 29 days and
that "... the level of spending associated with the event
is estimated at over £15.2 million." and that "...
additional expenditure ... from visitors who would not have come
to Belfast if the event had not been staged is estimated at £2.7
7. What qualities contribute to a successful market
delivering social and economic benefits, and are there examples
of best practice that have a wider application?
The main qualities are good management, vision,
promotion and effective partnership working, As a generalisation,
we find that such elements are often missing in the vast majority
of markets. There are of course a number of notable exceptions,
but overall the standard of market management, both in the public
and private sector, throughout the UK is not of the highest standard.
8. Does Local Government support markets effectively?
Varies greatly throughout the country with some
having a great deal of involvement whilst others all but ignore
them. It is clear that where an L A does support the market it
is a better market for it and sometimes has strategies and development
plans which help the wider local community as well as the market
9. What are the advantages and disadvantages of
local authorities having power to operate markets?
A clear distinction has to be made between the overall
provision of markets and the physical operation of markets.
There must be some mechanism to regulate the number,
operational days and location of markets to prevent a free for
all with markets springing up all over the placeoften in
wholly unsuitable locations. We feel that local authorities are
the best means of providing such overall control.
As regards their physical operation we feel that
the constraints of the democratic process placed upon local authorities
often hinder the implementation of dynamic, innovative and forward
thinking management. On a local level, political realities often
dictate that capital investment by the L A on the L A market is
difficult, and often impossible, to obtain on an ongoing basis
and that profits derived from the market are not re-invested in
the market but go to other services/functions within the authority.
We believe that a case therefore exists for local authority markets
to be outsourced to the private sector or to an arms length companya
good example of such being the markets at Glasgow.
10. Does central government support markets effectively?
If not, what additional support should be provided?
Central Government has recently shown some support
through PPG 6 although the benefits of this have not yet been
evident. Throughout the industry it is felt that markets do not
have a high priority on the Governments' agenda.
A good alternative model is that employed in Holland.
There, a civil servant in their equivalent of the D.T.I, has special
responsibility for markets and, following consultation processes
with the main players and organisations within their market industry,
reports to their equivalent of the Communities and local Government
Select Committee. As a result, Holland now has a well administered,
progressive and thriving market industry.
Another example is in the municipal market at
Barcelona. However, the restrictive legislation which virtually
forces supermarkets to be located at first floor level of a market
hall, makes this option an unattainable model at present.
11. Could central government make better use of
markets to achieve national goals, particularly with regard to
social adhesion, health and regeneration?
Yes. Either through the adoption of the Dutch
model or by the implementation of national performance indicators
for marketscurrently there are no such indicators. Although
NABMA, the L A Market Association, have tried to formulate such
indicators in the past it has been unable to achieve any meaningful
degree of co-operation from even their own fellow L A members,
and absolutely no co-operation from the private sector. We feel
that the only way forward on this issue is for central government
to impose a mandatory set of key performance indicators for all
12. Do local and national planning regulations
support or hinder the development of markets?
We see no major problems in the current regulations.
13. Do licensing regulations support or hinder
the development of markets?
We strongly feel that Street Trading licences and
the accompanying legislation severely hinder the development of
markets situated on highwaysespecially those in London
referred to earlier in this submission.
MPEL carried out a markets consultancy last year
for the London Borough of Hackney [the location of the first site
visit for the Committee] and it is clear that the licensing restrictions
have a very significant negative effect upon the market. We are
currently conducting a markets consultancy for the London Borough
of Lewisham and it is evident that similar difficulties arising
from the licensing regulations are having an equally negative
14. What improvements could be made to the planning
and licensing regimes to aid the development of markets?
Legally constituted markets throughout the UK have
no requirement for and should not be subject to licensing arrangements.
Licensing legislation, throughout the whole of the UK, including
London, should be revised to allow the L A issuing the street
trading licence to charge a realistic commercial charge for so
In addition to the above responses to the specific
questions raised we would like to put forward certain of our considered
proposals in respect of the provision and development of markets
throughout the UK the following views.
1. Cost/benefits of market locations
In order for markets to flourish we believe
that, amongst other things, they need to be located in prime locations
within a town or city.
However, exclusive occupation of prime space with
permanently erected stalls with a market operating two or three
days a week cannot be financially viable or sustainable. The solution
is to have flexible markets with modern demountable stallserected/dismantled
on a daily basis whereby the market can be sited on either
temporarily unused space or on the High Street and can change
shape, size and location as required.
At present too many markets are situated in
edge of town locations with permanently erected stalls which prohibit
alternative uses of such space on non market days. We feel that
such markets are inevitably unsustainable and need to be replaced
sooner rather than later.
2. Effects of the current economic crisis
In times of recession, markets, with their low
overheads should fare better in comparison to other forms of retailing
on the High Street. Although there are some exceptionsnotably
Bury and Burnley markets where trader induction courses are held
for prospective traders it seems that few markets are taking
advantage of the present difficulties.
Although no hard evidence exists to support it, we
perceive that in the current recession the sales of the food offer
on most markets is holding firm but that of non- foods is experiencing
3. Public perception and Image
Traditional Retail markets suffer from a very
poor image and have little or no "street credibility"
with the younger generation. The stereotypical market shopper
is 45 years plus and socio-economic groups C2, D and E. We feel
that such a profile renders the future of market shopping somewhat
We strongly feel that standards in markets infrastructure
and market management, both in the private and public sector,
need improving and that traders need to be better educated in
areas of customer satisfaction issues, presentation of goods and
that general personal appearances and practices need to become
far more professional.
We also find that whilst most traditional markets
around the UK are in decline, the specialist, niche markets such
as continental markets, farmers markets, craft markets etc are
thriving. We feel that this arises out of often better locations
for these markets, stronger management and a higher class of goods
being sold than on the traditional market.
We feel that for traditional markets the adoption
of the Dutch method of trading and the setting of mandatory key
performance indicators by the central government, together with
management mentoring such as that offered by MPEL, would assist
in improving the shortcomings on the traditional markets.