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We will find the best way to improve Covered Market
12:00pm Friday 1st November 2013 in News
The Covered Market is historic and iconic for Oxford and it is, as we say, a jewel in the crown of the city council’s assets.
We are keen to see the market continue and remain vibrant into the future and we see what we are doing in terms of the report put together by The Retail Group as being important and critical to taking the Covered Market forwards.
The council is keen to keep the character of the market but at the same time recognises that there will be an evolution of the traders and businesses that operate there and we want to make the place sustainable, vibrant and profitable into the long term, both for the traders and for the city council.
I think that, given the problems that we have had with the rent review, it was timely for us to revisit what we do with the market and I suspect that in the past we have not been as active in the management of some of our assets as we might have been and we are now trying to improve upon that.
This is a good opportunity to look at the market offer afresh and see what can be done to move it into the future.
At a time of recession it is important that the city council and the market do what they can to keep the place as vibrant as it deserves to be and we will do whatever we can to help, hence the consultant’s report.
Oxford, as a retail destination, remains vibrant and it is one of the most desired places for retailers to set up shop, no pun intended, and that’s why we have had a vote of confidence from the Westgate Alliance.
They see the great opportunities and catchment area here and the Covered Market also needs to tap into that.
What the market needs is to have traders selling goods people want to buy at the prices they want to buy them at.
There are challenges out there but given the track record of the market and the affection in which it is held by shoppers, I think people will be supportive of it both now and in the long term.
The future of the market is very bright. Clearly we cannot give a blank cheque for all the proposals that the consultants have come up with but we don’t have any preconceived ideas about how we take things forward.
We will be mindful of the suggestions that The Retail Group has made, which are evidence-based and have been made by leading experts in that retail field, but we will listen to what others have to say and see where we can go from there.
This is not a city council report and we will be interested in the responses to the consultation, which starts next week, and to hear people’s views of the report.
It will only be after that consultation that we will take forward a plan for improvement. Clearly there are some things that are easy wins which we will be cracking on with, such as appointing an interim market manager, but for other things time will be needed and financial assessments will need to be carried out and we will try to get that done as soon as we can.
I think that the Covered Market is one of the best in the country but there is clearly always an opportunity to improve.
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