Council cuts rent for market traders to support business

Stoke-on-Trent City Council is cutting rent for new and existing stall holders at all of its markets – one of a series of initiatives being introduced to support market traders, attract more shoppers and breathe new life into the buildings.From January 1, 2018, traders at the city’s eight indoor and outdoor markets will receive a range of benefits in a move aimed at helping them survive and thrive, and make town centres more attractive places to visit.

One of the key initiatives will see 18 to 25 year olds receive a 75 per cent discount in rent for up to 16 weeks, to help budding entrepreneurs get their ideas and business off the ground. This would mean they could rent a single stall in Hanley Indoor Market for just £34 per week.

Other initiatives being brought in include:

  • A 10 per cent reduction in rent at all markets for current traders for a two-year period;
  • A 50 per cent rent discount for all new traders for up to 16 weeks;
  • A market training and support programme, worth £26,000 in the first 12 months, with funded guidance and access to training on retail presentation, sales and customer service and social media presence;
  • A consultation with traders on opening hours, to ensure the markets meet shopping habits in the 21st century;
  • A ‘loyalty bonus’ to market traders, which will see a selection of discounts against council services such as gym memberships.

Councillor Daniel Jellyman, cabinet member for regeneration, transport and heritage, with responsibility for markets, said: “I think it is incredibly important that we support new and existing businesses, and markets are a great springboard for any business. The simple fact is that if traders are successful, then the market as a whole will be successful, too.

“We have had a look at how markets in comparative cities are operating and the 10 per cent rent reduction will bring us in line with many of them. That may not seem a lot on the surface at first but collectively the discount is valued at £141,000 each year which is a considerable amount of money.

“We want new blood in our markets, especially young entrepreneurs with great ideas, and the rate we are offering is an incredibly good offer for a retail space to help new start-ups on their way. As someone who has set up their own business in the past I know how hard it can be in the first few weeks when you are finding your feet and don’t have an awful lot of capital behind you. This rent reduction will make a big difference for new traders.

“I think the initiatives we have come forward with are a statement of intent by the council to say we are here to support our markets, we want them to do well, to fill up empty stalls and to see businesses being successful. Yes, footfall has declined in recent years, but this is us doing something about it and looking to reverse the trend. The more stalls we can fill, the more shoppers the markets will attract, which will be good news for everyone.”

Councillor David Conway, leader of the city council, said: “We have a long, proud history of markets here in Stoke-on-Trent and we are committed to doing what we can to keep that tradition very much alive. Markets employ a significant amount of people at a national and local level, have a positive impact on our town centres and are a place of social interaction for many people.

“They are part of our cultural heritage and provide affordable goods to our communities. We want to see all of our markets thriving and doing well and I hope these initiatives the council is offering will help both existing and new traders to thrive.”

The initiatives will apply to indoor markets at Hanley, Longton, Tunstall and Stoke, and outdoor markets at Hanley, Fenton, Bentilee and Hanley (Sunday).

Last month the city council announced it is investing £1.5 million into Hanley Indoor Market, the biggest single investment since the facility opened nearly 30 years ago. Designs are currently being drawn-up for the scheme, which could include a striking entrance to raise the profile of the market and the zoning of stalls to create destination areas. Around £70,000 has been spent on improvements to Longton Market, while Tunstall Market recently celebrated its 200th birthday. And planned multi-million pound refurbishment works to Tunstall Town Hall and Longton Town Hall will also drive footfall into the towns and markets.