Ready to Trade?
Chester Market is beginning an exciting new chapter in its history with a move to a new purpose-built market hall at the heart of the Northgate development in summer 2022. The vision driving the new market is to be a ‘modern traditional market’ that takes the best of the new breed of thriving city produce markets such as Borough Market in London, Barcelona market, combined with communal foodhall markets such as Altrincham and Liverpool’s Baltic.
Applications have now closed to trade at the new Chester Market. We expect to announce which traders have been successful over the summer.
However, if you would like to be considered for a place in the new Market, please submit your details in the blue box below, and we will be in touch if places become available.
There has been a market in Chester for well over 800 years; in order to survive it has evolved and changed location but never lost its role as a well-loved asset of the city, now based in the Forum since the late sixties.
Never more so in the past couple of years, when following a national downturn in the popularity of markets, a decline in foot-fall at the Forum shopping centre and other factors such as the relocation of the bus interchange; meant that by 2017 the market was running at 35% occupancy and many traders reported a downturn in takings of 20-80%, with some on the brink of closure.
However, following a concerted strategy of council investment and marketing totalling almost £400,000 – including rent incentives, parking discounts, new food and drink stalls, website and evening opening – all contributed to renew trader confidence and the market was rejuvenated.
This turnaround was recognised by winning the 2020 Great British Markets award for best small indoor market with over 1million visitors in 2019 and a waiting list for market stalls.
2020 presented us with a whole new set of challenges but the pandemic brought the best out of everyone involved in the market – traders stepped up to serve the community offering new ways to collaborate with one another and go the extra mile to offer deliveries and ensure everyone could be served whether in person or remotely. Market staff set up a new Al Fresco eating area which enabled the popular Foodie Fridays and late opening on Saturdays to continue when permitted.
Here are a few reminders why Chester Market should be the top location to grow your business:
Chester is the No.1 Vitality retail destination in the North West, and within the top twenty nationally
HDH Vitality Ranking 2020
Chester is the third best place to live in the 2020 UK Hot Housing Index, and top in the North West.
Source: Property Week/CACI
Chester West and Chester has over 35 million day visitors and 1.5 million staying visitors
Source: STEAM Annual Report for 2018 (Global Solutions UK)
1.3 million people live within a 30-minute drive of Chester
Source: Census 2011
We have a growing £30 billion Cheshire regional economy
Source: Cheshire & Warrington LEP
Chester has been crowned City of the Year in the 2020/21 Staycation Awards
Source: i Newspaper
In 2019 the council committed to developing a new market as part of the £70m Northgate development in the city centre and a new market hall will open in early 2022, alongside a new cinema, public square, car park; a short walk from its current home and adjacent to Storyhouse.
We have massive ambitions for the new market; to build on its recent success and deliver a significant step-change in environment, choice and experience. It will establish a new benchmark for city centre markets, blending traditional character, range and value alongside innovative new approaches.
The people of Chester have shared with us what matters to them about a market. We have held extensive consultation events which have informed the Chester Market Vision & Manifesto. We are setting high standards for traders, event organisers and our staff to deliver the best market possible. The vision driving the new market is to be a ‘modern traditional market.’
From nutrition to sustainability, creativity to inclusivity we can’t wait to open and share the good times ahead and we want only the best traders who share our ambitions to be part of the new market. It establishes the principles, quality and pricing standards and environmental imperatives for users of the market and the way the market is managed.
We need traders to sign-up to our Market Manifesto, and demonstrate how they will play their part and work with us in partnership to deliver its key principles:
Good for the Planet
Good for Chester
Good for Gatherings
Good for Good Food
Good for the Community
Good for Business
See more at: https://newchester.market/all-good
Who will be on the evaluation panel for trader applications at the new market?
The evaluation panel will be made up of the Council’s Markets Team and external advisers. We are obliged by law to achieve best value in all our property transactions and the process will ensure that we meet this obligation.
Will new traders be given priority over existing traders?
No, all existing traders and prospective traders will be given equal opportunity to gain a place in the new market. We aim to attract the best mix of traders and therefore developed a fair and consistent process that will apply to both existing and new traders. Applications will be assessed against a set of scoring criteria in order that the process can be as fair and equitable as possible.
Will existing traders be given any recognition for their contribution to the success of the current market?
Yes, the evaluation will take into account existing traders’ previous experience and track record and will be looked at more favourably than an identical application that has not traded in Chester Market. However, we recommended that existing traders took the opportunity to re-evaluate their current business model as part of the application process and set their aspirations and objectives in line with our ambitious plans for the new market.
Are traders being supported to make an application?
Yes, as a result of feedback from traders we simplified the application process, gave traders the opportunity to select their stall location and make a bid for their preferred rental charge, plus we extended the closing date by two weeks to allow for more time to submit. We also provided two free workshops delivered by the Chamber of Commerce to help traders develop their application and offer impartial advice on financial, marketing and legal issues.
How will it be different to the current market?
The new market will have a strong food and drink offer. The exact tenant mix which will be most beneficial to the market’s future success will be finalised during the application process. We have massive ambitions for the new market; to build on its recent success and deliver a significant step-change in environment, choice and experience. It will establish a new benchmark for city centre markets, blending traditional character, range and value alongside innovative new approaches.
Will the opening hours change?
Yes, all traders will be required to adhere to the operational hours. The proposed opening will be 6 days a week, and closed on Mondays. Opening times are expected to be 8am – 6pm for general merchandise, and for Food and Beverage trading hours: Tuesday – Saturday 11am to 10pm Sunday 11am to 9pm.
Will new traders be brought in?
The Council will promote the opportunity to both existing and new traders in order to achieve the optimum tenant mix.
Will any new businesses be allowed to sell the same as existing traders?
The objective is to provide customer choice and a diverse product range. The tenant mix strategy will aim to complement existing traders.
Why were existing traders asked to apply for places in the new market?
Chester Market is beginning an exciting new chapter in its history with a move to a new purpose-built market hall at the heart of the Northgate development. As a result, we want to attract the best mix of traders and provide a fair and consistent process that will apply to both existing and new traders.
Some traders have previously successfully applied in the past to move to the new market, why did they have to apply again?
The previous selection process was undertaken in 2016 as part of the recruitment process for the original Chester Northgate scheme. Lots has changed since 2016 with the new market now being the heart of the reimagined Phase 1 scheme. Markets have continued to evolve, and this is reflected in the recent success of the existing market in Chester. We believe that the most equitable way to deliver the new market that Chester deserves is to hold a trader recruitment process that gives all existing (many of whom weren’t here in 2016) and prospective traders the same opportunity.
Rental terms are different than in the existing market and rents are higher – why?
This is a unique opportunity and like nothing else currently available in Chester. The rental terms at the existing market have changed little since they were set by the former Chester City Council many years ago. Traders only pay approx. 50% of the current cost of running the market and have enjoyed some of the lowest rental levels in the UK. Rents are therefore heavily subsidised by the Council and whilst we were able to do that in the past, our financial position means that we can no longer retain this subsidy. The proposed rent is also comparable against similar markets in other cities across the country and is in the middle of that range, to reflect the step-change in environment and facilities the new market will provide.
Food and beverage traders will pay a percentage of the turnover as a rent which increasingly is a model that works in markets and high streets across the UK. This means that traders do not have the barrier of high fixed costs and both the trader and the Council benefits if the overall market is a success.
What will happen to any existing traders that do not secure space in the new market?
For those that are unsuccessful, we will offer feedback to explain the reasons for our decision and where they may have fallen short of the selection criteria. The Council has alternative markets or retail premises that could be offered to help relocate existing traders to or offered to new applicants. Traders are encouraged to discuss this with the Market Manager. We will also offer support to any trader that does not wish to apply for a stall in the new market and help them plan their future beyond the closure of the existing market.
What will be the loading/unloading and car parking arrangements for the stall holders?
Access will be via Hunter Street to a loading bay, and new multi-storey care park that will serve the Northgate development. There will be access straight from the loading bay into the car park and, subject to interest, we will offer traders a contract with a dedicated parking space.
How will you ensure the new market will provide affordable goods and services?
The Council has no role in setting what traders decide to charge for their goods and services. When reviewing applications, we will evaluate traders’ viability based on their business plan and other criteria as per the scoring matrix. Nevertheless, we aim to select a range of traders that can provide an optimum mix of produce, food, drink and services at a range of price points and for all tastes – as per the current market and as set out in our manifesto for the new market.