Traders flagging Victoria Market have called for a change of management after it was announced that their futures were under review. Nottingham City Council has presented several options for operating the historic market on the top floor of the Victoria Centre.
Options include continuing with the current subsidized arrangement, investing in 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 operating costs worth £39m over the remaining 50 years of the current deal. The principle of exit from the lease was discussed.
However, shopkeepers complained, claiming that mismanagement was to blame for the market slump. Will Swift, co-owner of the Madhouse Nut Centre, said: “The whole thing is a mess – and I wouldn’t hire any of them to sweep it all up.
Read more: Future of Nottingham’s Victoria Market under review in bid to save council £39m
“It’s not been properly managed or financed for a long time. They’ve taken millions and millions of pounds and sold four shares of the market and not put anything back. Right now they’re saying they’re losing money and yet they’re blocking entry. of new operators, so they are contradicting each other.
“They’re hiring a private consulting firm to come in and trade with traders that’s going to cost £X hundreds of thousands of pounds – so where does the money come from? They keep saying they’re losing money but spending money that’s unnecessary in my opinion. opinion.”
Once the market had 400 stalls on two floors at the Victoria Center, but as of early 2022 there were only 33. Swift, who has run the stall for nearly 30 years, said the trade has gotten worse since the pandemic. But he believes the decline began after the downstairs was sold in 2004.
“We need some people who can manage it properly, we need a vision for the future. Nottingham needs a proper home 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 hasn’t been managed properly. We need people with the right skills to run the market; we’ve had square pegs in round holes for many years,” Swift said.
Stephen Taylor, who runs the Aladdin’s Cave hardware stall, said that with the right management, the market can thrive. “We don’t think they’re good enough for the job. I can’t stress enough: it’s poorly managed and needs a new management, so this place would thrive and be an asset.
“Markets are the heart of towns and cities – not a craft market like they have in Sneinton. This is a local market for the local people. We’re making a living and doing something for the community to help the people in St Ann’s, Sneinton, Radford, all these people come here for us.
“We have long conversations with a lot of customers – sometimes it’s like a social hub. Now they don’t go to the pub so much, it’s the only time they get to talk to someone. We have a good 20 minute conversation with someone – and it might be the only contact.” of the day or week. We do much more than sell good quality products at good prices.”
Nottinghamshire Live readers took to Facebook to voice their opinions. Sarah Bodger said: “It’s not surprising that there’s a shortage of merchants when you look at how much they’re charging. High rents and business fees are killing retail in our cities. By comparison, I trade from a unit in Coventry indoor Rent a similarly sized unit at the Victoria Center would cost me 20% more.”
Beverley Mee added “Go to Norwich Market, [it’s] absolutely buzz. Nottingham has never been the same since the old market closed. Do some research to see what actually works and attracts people and likely makes it viable for merchants by reducing rents.”
Interim Market Lead Advisor Coun Linda Woodings said: “In its heyday, Victoria Market was a busy and popular market, but unfortunately, while the small number of customers who still use it have great affection for it, it has been understood. used for years.
“The increase in service fees from former Intu owners, aligning the market with other retailers, meant that the municipality had to subsidize its operation for many years, turning it into a financial liability for us – a situation that was aggravated by Covid, severely impacting merchants’ income.
“The kind of investment that would be needed is something we simply cannot afford when our budgets are being squeezed by other demands and reduced government revenues.” The board declined to comment further.
Any proposal relating to the market would have to be agreed by the owners of the Victoria Centre, represented by the asset managers Global Mutual. A spokesperson for the Victoria Center said: “The market is managed by Nottingham City Council and any decision about its future will be made by them. Therefore, it would be inappropriate to comment on any proposals.”
Just before Christmas, rumors began to circulate that the market, which opened in the shopping center after its completion in 1971, was in the process of being sold. Traders spoke of the ensuing uncertainty at the time.