The last month has provided the chance to visit some different markets. Roadshows at Cambridge and Stockton enabled us to see two great markets in action. I was unable to visit Cambridge but the feedback from the visit was very positive. Stockton was a real treat.

A full market with around one hundred stalls and a really joined up approach to markets which has seen the number of speciality markets increased three fold in a short period. The markets at Stockton are clearly an important part of the overall town offer and it was great to see the enthusiasm of everyone involved. From Stockton we moved onto Borough Market which is always a treat and probably the best food Market in the UK.

We heard the story of Borough’s one thousand years contribution to London Markets. On the basis of Borough’s current performance it seems that the Market is in a good place to go on for another thousand. At the time of writing this article we are anticipating a visit to Newcastle upon Lyme to close our series of Roadshows.

The Roadshows have been a great success with around two hundred people attending and contributing lots of ideas and good practice about the future of the markets industry. Love Your Local Market is getting closer and the campaign brings both good and bad news. Firstly the good which is really good. I can officially announce that Love Your Local Market is the biggest markets event ever seen in the world. We already have sixteen European countries signed up for 2015 and several other countries in other parts of the world. Love Your Local Market really does show the power of markets.

The bad news is that we have run out of money to support Love Your Local Market. Over the last two years the funding for the campaign has come principally from government but also with significant support from private sponsors and Nabma. At the end of March government funding ends and, unexpectedly, our main private sponsor pulled out with immediate effect leaving us with a big hole in funding in 2015. Nabma will ensure that support is in place for the fortnight in May but going forward we need to identify a new source of funding. It will be a tragedy if we cannot continue to promote Love Your Local Market so if any of your readers can help with a new private sponsor please get in touch with me.

In March Nabma launched its Local Market Toolkit which provides a comprehensive guide to setting up a market. It is especially aimed at community groups and social enterprise organisations who are looking to establish a new market. We are encouraging our members to make it available to groups within its area to enable them to see the issues that they need to address.

Thanks to Ellie Gill, John Walker and other market managers who put the Toolkit together. March has also been a busy month for undertaking research on the economic impact of markets and footfall.

The first project is focused on six markets around the UK and we hope to have some results early in April that will enable me to report in my next article. The second survey is a much wider assessment of footfall and is being undertaken by the Institute of Place Management and Manchester Metropolitan University. We are expecting results in the next couple of months.

Nabma is committed to providing the markets industry with research about its performance and these projects will give us some excellent material to argue the case for markets. A central feature of Mission for Markets and Love Your Local Markets is the need for markets to embrace digital technology. Going around the country it is interesting to note that in many markets there are restrictions on market operators allowing their staff to use social media.

Whatever the reasons for this policy it is clearly preventing markets being promoted in an effective way. We have got to overcome these difficulties or find alternative ways of engaging with social media. As part of our Roadshows we held a series of digital workshops and there is an opportunity for markets to get help in organising training courses. It would be great if two or three markets would be willing to sponsor a training session for its traders. Nabma would be willing to help and seek to attract funding to cover these training sessions. Nabma has also sought to promote the concept of a cashless market.

We are very grateful to East Herts District Council and Chip and Pin who undertaking a trial at one of the Council’s markets to see whether using chip and pin terminals makes a difference to the market’s performance. Results later in the year.

Finally our Diploma in Market Administration goes from strength to strength. We started the new Diploma Course with a record number of students. I had the pleasure of presenting on market law and the students were really attentive. Well done to Chris New and his team of assessors for doing a great job.

Lots going on and lots to look forward to. Never a dull moment in Nabma

Graham Wilson OBE, Chief Executive,