The new indoor market on The Moor will be ‘a place for everybody in Sheffield’, its manager has promised - as the council embarks on the challenge of wooing back customers who have long abandoned the stalls.
Andy Ward, Sheffield Council’s head of markets, set out his bold ambition as traders were given a first glimpse of the site as the 79,000 sq ft building begins to take shape.
Having invested £18m in the project, and with stallholders moving from Castle Market facing steep increases in rent, the council needs to boost visitor numbers to 100,000 a week, from current numbers of less than 70,000.
New specialist traders, including stalls offering handmade pies, jams and preserves, Caribbean food and teas from Sri Lanka, are being brought in to make the market an attractive shopping prospect.
Around 190 stalls will be based on one floor, featuring a loop of meat and fish retailers around the perimeter and 12 cafes or food outlets.
Underfloor heating, large north-facing windows and prominent signs are also intended to make trading and purchasing easier. An arched entrance hall has a frame made with more than 590 sections of timber, the same material used in the Winter Garden.
Mr Ward said progress on the market was on schedule for the opening, set for November 18.
“It’s a very exciting time,” he said.
“We would expect footfall to be around 100,000 people a week which is what it used to be at Castle Market six years ago.
“The old market at its peak was attracting that number a week, all sorts of people from all over Sheffield, not just those on a low income. It was attracting people with a few more quid in their pockets. It’s these people we have lost. We want it to be a market for everybody in Sheffield.
“Numbers at Castle Market have gone to less than 70,000. If we stay there much longer the place will just collapse on itself. We want to keep the current customers and regain some we’ve lost over the years, who are willing to spend a bit more money for quality products.”
The council says 90 per cent of stalls in the new building have been allocated, with enough applications to fill it one-and-a-half times. Around two thirds of the stallholders will be traders from the existing market, and some vacancies remain for fresh food.
Scottish Windows Investment Partnership, which owns the leasehold for much of The Moor, has built eight retail units as part of the development. TJ Hughes has taken over three and tenants for the remaining five are yet to be revealed.
Traders’ 12 months to build customer base before rent rise
Sheffield Council’s head of markets has moved to quell traders’ fears over high rents and low footfall at the new Moor markets building.
Andy Ward said traders on Castle Market have had their rent subsidised for 10 years, which means the sudden leap in costs at the new site has come as a shock to some.
“If you compare the rents in this market to stalls at Crystal Peaks it is within £5 of being the same,” he said.
“That market is full, always has been and we don’t have any problems with rent. Traders will get the first six months rent free and are getting the second six months at half rent so they have 12 months to build a customer base.”
Anthony Andrews, who runs a fish and poultry stall at Castle Market and is moving to The Moor, told the Sheffield Telegraph: “It’s an impressive-looking building. I am concerned looking at the size of the stalls, they are a bit small, but I’m looking forward to moving in.
“We need the old customers, but we need to create a whole new customer base too. We need to attract everybody.”
Mark Holmes, of Punch Stalls, added: “It’s a lovely building, the only concern I have is the increase in rents that we’re going to have to pay. I currently pay £300 a week, so when the initial fee period is finished and we go onto the proper rent it will be £650. That’s a massive increase. We need the customer numbers to go up and for more people to use the market, otherwise the rent will be unaffordable.”
Council leader Julie Dore said: “We are now concentrating our efforts on making the transition from the current Castle Market to the new Moor Market as smooth as we can. I am certain that Sheffield’s shoppers will love the excellent choice and value that the new market will offer.”