NABMA’s best ever Conference? Well the comments of delegates and the analysis of the Conference survey forms certainly point to that conclusion. A record number of delegates enjoyed a varied programme of presentations, excellent networking opportunities and a varied Market Place Exhibition.

The Conference started with NABMA’s AGM which saw the Constitution changed to allow NABMA officers to remain in office for two years instead of the current one. Everyone agreed it was a sensible change and will provide much more continuity for the organisation.

The AGM heard that NABMA is in a very strong position with its highest ever membership numbers and a healthy bank balance to support its activities. In the past year substantial investment has been made in a new website, the production of a Markets Manual with various policies and procedures, a wide variety of research documents covering individual markets and the industry generally including Mission for Markets which I highlighted in my last article. Anyone interested in markets would be well advised to spend an hour or two looking through the publications section of the NABMA website to see the substantial amount of material that can be used to support the markets industry.

The NABMA Conference is very much about recognising the good things that are happening in markets and the Blachere Market Awards are a way of recognising the work done by market officers and the innovative projects that help markets perform better.

This year the Market Manager of the Year went to Daniel Ritchie of Cambridge. We want to focus on professionalising market management and Daniel is a manager who has attained the Diploma of Market Administration and is showing dedication and enthusiasm in tackling his job at Cambridge.

Leeds won the Market Team of the Year. Facing a major refurbishment of the Kirkgate Market the Leeds Market Team have shown a continuing ability to “go the extra mile” and help make the changes as smooth as possible. Humour, patience and adaptability are all words that have been applied to the approach they have taken.

In the last few years we have celebrated some wonderful innovative projects. Digital initiatives have been prominent and last year we had Coventry’s great Pedal Stalls taking markets around the city. This year the Markets Innovation Award went to Bolton Market for their excellent waste management project which not only made the market a “greener” environment but produced financial savings to the benefit of both the Council and the traders.

It is a pity we could not make more awards given the quality of the entries. The three winners not only received their awards but £3,000 of lighting donated to each market by Blachere. A fantastic prize which we hope will encourage others to enter next year.

One of the most eagerly anticipated awards at Conference is the Krys Zasada Award for outstanding contribution to markets given in honour of Krys who was NABMA’s Policy Officer before his untimely death. The award is kindly sponsored by Manchester City Council.

This year the award was given to David Smith CBE who has been in charge of three of the major Wholesale Markets in London since 2003. David has had a significant influence on the markets scene in the United Kingdom, serving as NABMA’s Chairman of the Wholesale Forum and also taking a leading role in the setting up of the Association of London Markets. David also plays a prominent role in the World Union of Wholesale Markets.

Celebrating ten annual Conferences since NABMA’s new structure was put in place NABMA made two special awards at the Conference.

The first was to Jean Paul Auguste of Groupe Geraud. The company has been NABMA’ s major sponsor for the last ten years and have made a substantial contribution to the success NABMA has enjoyed in that period. It was important to NABMA to make a public recognition of this support.

Over the last ten years Oswestry Town Council have provided administrative and financial support to NABMA. When we made the decision to give the contract to a Town Council many eyebrows were raised. No national organisation had previously given such a contract to a Town Council. However the ten years of first class support have shown the wisdom of this decision and NABMA wanted to show how it’s appreciation.

So much to celebrate but so many other things to tell you about. I will complete my review of the NABMA Conference next month.

Finally can I mention that we have now launched the Great British Market Awards. The major markets competition of the year. Go to the NABMA website at and press the Great British Markets Award tab. We are very grateful for the continued support of KPR Midlink who sponsor thus competition.

Graham Wilson OBE, Chief Executive,