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‘The whole thing is a mess’ – Victoria Market traders call for management overhaul

todayApril 25, 2022 2

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Traders at flagging Victoria Market have called for a change of management after it was announced that its future was under review. Nottingham City Council has put forward several options for operating the historic market on the upper floor of Victoria Centre.

The options include carrying on with the current subsidised arrangement, investing in the market infrastructure and charging full rent, bringing in a new operator and moving to a different location. The local authority said it needed to save estimated running costs amounting to £39m over the remaining 50 years of the current agreement. The principle of exiting the lease arrangement has been discussed.

However, stallholders hit out, claiming poor management was to blame for the market’s downfall. Will Swift, co-owner of the Madhouse Nut Centre, said: “The whole thing’s a mess – and I wouldn’t employ any of them to sweep it up.

Read more: Future of Nottingham’s Victoria Market under review in bid to save council £39m

“It has not been managed or financed properly for a long period of time. They have taken million and millions of pounds out and sold four parts of the market off and put nothing back in. At the moment they’re saying they’re losing money and yet they’re stopping new traders from coming in so they are contradicting themselves.

“They are employing a private consultancy company to come in and negotiate with the traders which is going to cost £X hundreds of thousands of pounds – so where is the money coming from? They keep saying they’re losing money but spending money that is unnecessary in my opinion.”

Once the market had 400 stalls over two floors in Victoria Centre but at the start of 2022 there were just 33. Mr Swift, who has run the stall for nearly 30 years, said trading had got worse since the pandemic. But he believes the start of the decline came after the downstairs was sold off in 2004.

“We need to get some people in who can run it properly, we need a vision for the future. Nottingham needs a proper indoor market. It’s one of the biggest cities in England – markets are vibrant in other cities.

“The only reason it’s not vibrant in this city is because it’s not been run properly. We need people with proper qualifications to run the market; we have had square pegs in round holes for many years,” said Mr Swift.

Stephen Taylor, who runs hardware stall, Aladdin’s Cave, said with the right management the market could prosper. “We don’t think they are good enough for the job. I can’t stress enough: it’s badly managed and needs new management, then this place would thrive and it would be an asset.

“Markets are the heart of towns and cities – and not an artisan market like they have in Sneinton. This is a local market for local people. We’re making a living and making something for the community to help people in St Ann’s, Sneinton, Radford, all those people come here to us.



Stephen Taylor and Sharon Manning, of Aladdin's Cave
Stephen Taylor and Sharon Manning, of Aladdin’s Cave

“We have long conversations with a lot of customers – sometimes it’s like a social centre. Now they don’t get to the pub so much it’s the only time they get to speak to somebody. We have a good 20 minute chat with somebody – and it might be their only contact for the day or week. We do a lot more than sell good quality products at good prices.”

Nottinghamshire Live readers have taken to Facebook to express their views. Sarah Bodger said: “It’s hardly surprising that there is a lack of traders when you look how much rent they are charging. High rents and business rates are killing retail in our towns and cities. By comparison, I trade from a unit in Coventry indoor market. To rent a similar sized unit in Victoria Centre would cost me 20 percent more.”

Beverley Mee added “Go to Norwich Market, [it’s] absolutely buzzing. Nottingham has never been the same since the old market closed. Do some research to see what actually works and attracts people and probably make it viable for traders by lowering rents.”

Acting lead councillor for markets, Coun Linda Woodings, said: “In its heyday, Victoria Market was a busy, popular market but, sadly, although the small number of customers who still use it have great affection for it, it has been under-used for years.

“Increased service charges by the previous owners intu, bringing the market in-line with other retailers, meant the council has had to subsidise its operation for many years, turning it into a financial liability for us – a situation which was worsened by Covid, severely impacting traders’ income.

“The sort of investment that would be needed is something we simply cannot afford when our budgets are being squeezed by other demands and reduced income from Government.” The council declined to comment further.

Any proposal relating to the market would have to be agreed by the owners of the Victoria Centre, represented by asset managers Global Mutual. A spokesman for Victoria Centre said: “The market is run by Nottingham City Council and any decision regarding its future will be made by them. It would therefore be inappropriate for us to comment on any proposals.”

Rumours began to circulate shortly before Christmas that the market, which opened in the shopping centre upon its completion in 1971, was in the running to be sold. Traders spoke of the subsequent uncertainty at the time.

Written by: thehitnetwork

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