City leaders are hoping plans to pump up to £100 million into The Moor in Sheffield city centre will boost the performance of the new Moor Market which has suffered a difficult first year.
It has not been plain sailing for the embattled building as it celebrates its one-year anniversary today, with concerns over footfall and a trader exodus.
But city chiefs say a new cinema and Primark store – due to open in 2016 – will mean a rosier outlook for the market’s future.
Coun Leigh Bramall, Sheffield Council cabinet member for business, says: “The market is a work in progress. It hasn’t been as successful as we had hoped, but it hasn’t been a failure either.
“There are things we are going to do to make it a success.” Andy Ward, head of Sheffield Markets, is optimistic for the future, saying: “There are probably about 15 traders currently leaving in January.
“That will take us down to about 75 to 85 per cent let from the current level of 90 per cent. It’s an extreme concern.
“But we have had new traders coming in the last couple of weeks and we have new cafés opening. We continue to make this as cost effective as possible and it’s not as if the supply of new traders has dried up, we are still getting lots of interest.
Originally it was hoped the market, which opened on Monday, November 25, 2013, would attract 80,000 to 100,000 people a week – but it quickly missed targets.
Mr Ward says: “When it opened the footfall counts we had were awesome.
“After Christmas 2013 it dropped off a cliff, and it recovered in January to about 60,000 a week. It has flatlined at that since.”
The market was built to replace the dilapidated Castle Market building, which is set to be demolished next year.
Mr Ward says: “This is not Castle Market by a long way, this is a bright, new, clean facility.
“It’s got some really good traders in, excellent quality and excellent customer service.
“It’s a nice building and it’s got good facilities.
“We did a customer survey after six months. It found the mix of traders was good and accessibility was good.
“There were one or two complaints about pinch points which we’ve ironed out, but there wasn’t a great deal of criticism.
“We just need more people to come and try it. Once you try it you’ll be converted.”
And Mr Ward believes the market will be more successful when as The Moor quarter is developed.
He says: “The Moor will come on in leaps and bounds as each part is developed – £100 million is being put into this area. Once that happens it will become a destination for shopping to equal Fargate.”
Mr Bramall says the council was working on projects to attract customers.
Schemes include attracting pop-up shops and independent retailers and offering two hours’ parking for £1.50.
He says: “Longer-term, we are working on a new bus service between Rotherham and Sheffield, which will include a direct link between the old market and the new market site.
“The market is part of the wider regeneration of the Moor. The Moor will become a destination in its own right.
“We want occupancy to be increased and businesses to be successful.
“But it’s also down to traders to provide an attractive offer.”