Market Place is a bespoke, highly successful and innovative company providing a range of services to the markets industry. Founder of the company, Allan Hartwell, introduced the first European Market to this country back in July 1992 and now Market Place (Europe) operates around 70 continental and special event markets each year throughout the UK.
Market Place is now synonymous with quality and integrity. Four companies fly under the Market Place flag: in addition to Market Place (Europe) the group now includes Market Place Management responsible for the operation of permanent markets in towns and cities. Both companies are supported by Market Place Events, who provide equipment and infrastructure to the retail side of events. In September 2014 Market Place partnered with the National Association of British Market Authorities to create NABMA Market Place Consultancy Service, incorporating their collective industry experience to provide a range of consultancy services from simple advice to leading on multi million pound redevelopment projects.
Continental Markets are a regular occurrence of many towns and cities and it could be said that their popularity is mainly due to one man, Allan Hartwell, Managing Director and co-founder of Market Place. Following a successful EU pilot scheme in Strasbourg, Allan, with the support of the NMTF brought the concept to the UK and was responsible for organising the country’s first European Market, in Manchester in July 1992. At the time, he was Head of Service of the Commercial Services Division at Manchester City Council, having responsibility for one of the country’s largest market portfolios. As a result of the continental market’s success, Allan helped shape the way in which they are now operated and was instrumental in forming a Europe-wide market organisation for market operators (The Association of Municipal Retail Markets). This organisation now operates under the umbrella of the WUWM (World Union of Wholesale Markets) and was chaired from its inception until 1996 by Allan during which time he was also the European Officer Advisor to NABMA.
In 2004 after 22 years in local government, Allan, along with Ian Hill, formerly the Chief Officer for Strategic Objectives with Doncaster MBC, formed Market Place Europe. Ian still plays an important ambassadorial role in the company. He has over 40 years’ service in the industry and was Officer Advisor to NAMBA for almost eight years on Best Value and CPA. Ian has also represented NABMA in producing the Industry Guide to Good Food Hygiene and Practice, the bible at the time for all food traders.
Although their business model was targeted initially at consultancy, things took a twist when later that same year, they were approached by both Belfast and York City Councils to organise Christmas Markets and from this point the company has developed a huge portfolio of Continental and Specialist Event Markets. This year the Company celebrates its 11th anniversary as operators of the Belfast Christmas Market, their flagship event and the benchmark from which they measure the quality and standards of all other events. They also operate award-winning Christmas Markets in Exeter, Glasgow and Newcastle.
Since its conception, Market Place has grown to become the biggest operator of Continental Markets in the UK, having successfully managed in the region of 700. They have an established database of traders valued in excess of £1m and an increasing annual turnover across the group. Allan believes that their innovative approach to delivering International Markets has set new and higher standards in the areas of Street Trading and open market trading in towns and cities across the UK.
Allan puts much of the company’s success down to a few simple strategies. He explained, “We like to think that we set the bar high. Integrity guides everything that Market Place does. Right from day one we imposed standards that we’ve never let slip. Ian and I have always said that the day those standards drop, it’s time to retire.” Suffice to say that neither have hung up their boots just yet.
Nick Rhodes joined the company as CEO in 2012 bringing with him a wealth of knowledge having been formerly Head of Services at Leicester City Council. He was also responsible for the first independent national market survey – The Rhodes Report 2004 (funded by NABMA, NMTF and the Association of Private Markets) – which incorporated all UK Retail Markets.
As CEO, Nick is tasked with overseeing the growth of the company, which is a one-stop shop for the retail market service covering every aspect and discipline of the industry. In 2012 he introduced the Exeter Christmas Market to the company’s portfolio and has since been instrumental in helping it achieve award-winning status such as in 2014 it was awarded ‘Best Speciality Market’.
He commented, “We have worked hard to be where we are now; a company recognised within the industry and beyond as leaders. We take that responsibility very seriously. We are passionate about making the industry a successful one. Our approach is to work with people, taking them on the development journey with us.”
Social media is a particularly successful and relatively new element of the Market Place marketing mix. With a dedicated Digital Media Officer, Emma, the company are enthusiastic about the opportunities the digital age offers them and their traders. Traders are encouraged to promote themselves, and the team have worked with them, offering basic social media training. Nick has noticed a clear correlation between those that had embraced modern technology and the rewards they had reaped in terms of trade during events.
Chris Hulley has been with the company for nine years. As the ‘man on the ground’ he can quickly assess the logistics of operating each market and spot any potential pitfalls. When he’s not on site, Chris spends significant time designing market layouts and deciding who goes where to create the best flow and visual appeal.
Market Place provides everything from the power supply to the security at events and have even been known to replace the grass when they leave! This year they hosted the biggest International Market held in the UK at the Belfast Tall Ships event in July, which covered 4500m2 and 1000m of stall frontage. With the exception of the funfair, Market Place operated the entire commercial aspect even gifting a £20,000.00 city beach as part of the visitor experience.
September 2014 saw the launch of the NABMA Market Place Consultancy Service, a new national consultancy service for the market industry. Led by Nick, it would be difficult to compete with the level of collective experience gathered between him, Allan, Ian and the newest member of the Market Place family, Jackie Casey. Consultancy can vary immensely in terms of scale and project. For example, it is not uncommon for Local Authorities, due to financial cuts, to be unsure where markets ‘fit’. This is where the combined experience of the consultancy team comes in to its own, dealing with everything from business plans, relocation and management models to promotions.
Jackie Casey joined the company in 2014 as Business Development Manager, having previously been responsible for Bolton Market for six years. She is keen to develop the market management side of the business which she sees as a natural area for growth. Jackie commented, “Right across the business we have high standards; we lead by example and work hard to ensure we pass those standards down the line to clients and partners. Our results speak for themselves but we don’t rest on our laurels, and are always hungry for the next challenge.”
Market Place currently manages the indoor Market at Market Harborough, in ‘leafy Leicestershire’. The Council redeveloped the market in January 2014, where it was temporarily relocated and managed by Market Place on an interim contract before they successfully secured the contract and took over when it re-opened in April. The Council invested £500,000 in the new build even adding solar panels to the roof. In a town with approximately 20,000 inhabitants, the footfall sits around an impressive 30,000-35,000 per week. Market Place Management has increased trading from four to six days whilst retaining high trader occupancy rates, led by Market Manager Sairah Butt. In addition to the fixed stalls, they have pop-ups and gazebos, which they use particularly when running themed events. Their hard work was recently recognised when they won the ‘Independent Retailer Award of the Year’ from Niche Magazine, a local independent publication.
They say that behind every great man there stands a strong woman, and it seems Allan Hartwell is no exception to this rule; completing the family line up is Maryjane Hartwell, Director of Finance and Admin for the company. She was instrumental alongside Allan and Ian in forming Market Place, even giving the company their name, and has been a key member of the senior management team ever since. She is a real driving force within the company instilling sound business principles whilst making sure everyone’s feet are planted on terra firma. Market Place now employs 14 full time staff members and three seasonal employees, a modest but hard working team given the volume of events that they deliver. They operate a market or event most weekends and during peak periods there may be two or three running simultaneously. The company never stands still and whilst they have aspirations for growth they remain loyal to their mission, ‘Through creative solutions, inspirational management and vision, we seek to deliver quality markets accessible to all in the heart of every town and city’.
To enquire about any of the services offered by Market Place please call us on 0161 478 6060
OR contact Nick at firstname.lastname@example.org