The beginning of any year is a time for looking back and also forward.

In terms of 2015 NABMA has probably had its best ever year. Record membership levels, sell out Conferences and excellent entries for all our competitions are all indications of the continuing progress made by the organisation. In addition we are expanded our portfolio of services with the provision of specialist advice on VAT issues and business rates.

Love Your Local Market continues to be a central feature of the NABMA offer and it has become the biggest markets event in the world. In 2015 we had over 2000 markets taking part across Europe and we are hopeful that 2016 will see a significant increase on this number.

One of our other priorities has been to increase the profile of The Diploma in Market Administration. In the last two years we have seen almost sixty students going through the Diploma course and the numbers are holding up well in 2016. We want market operators to make the Diploma a preferred requirement for recruiting new staff and we are beginning to see this happen in a number of places. Hopefully we can build on this going forward.

Looking forward markets face a number of challenges and how we address these challenges will make a significant contribution to the success of the industry in the next few years.

In 2009 when the government published its report on retail markets it encouraged local authority operators to look carefully at their management model and consider whether it was appropriate for current needs. That encouragement is still relevant today but the options for implementing different management models is perhaps more limited than previously envisaged.

Private market operators still occupy a significant role within our industry and run many successful markets but how many private operators can take on markets administered by some of the larger local authorities? Look at some of the city centre Market Halls, often with debt charges and existing contractual commitments, and where are the private operators that can take on responsibilities of this scale?

There are also a number of successful trader operated markets but these tend to be more small scale in nature. Dudley Market has recently gone over to being trader operated and, as far as I am aware, this is the biggest market managed in this way but this is an open market and does not have the responsibilities associated with many Markets Halls.

Markets, particularly local authority markets, still need to consider their management model in 2016 but the comments I have made indicate that the ability to make changes might not be as easy as you might envisage.

2015 saw NABMA and the NMTF working together to produce Mission for Markets and I hope that we shall see further discussion and work on this project over the next twelve months. Mission for Markets was always seen as a “living” document and we are continuing to add information and resources to the Mission for Markets website.

January sees the NABMA One Day Conference “Creating and Sustaining Successful Markets” and as I write this article we are already moving towards a “sell out”. This Conference also sees the presentation of The Great British Market Awards sponsored by KPR Midlink. This is a great opportunity to showcase the best in markets. We have extended the deadline for entries to the 8th January so by the date of this publication you will still have a few days to get your entry submitted. Go to the NABMA website at

At the beginning of a New Year it is traditional to make a few resolutions so here goes my top three for markets:

Firstly let’s have better communication. There are lots of good news stories and lots of good practice that can benefit the markets industry but we are not good at sharing information. I despair the number of times I find out about good news stories by accident or well past their publication date. Let’s share things more effectively.

Secondly let’s have a more professional markets industry. We are a significant contributor to many towns but sometimes the standards of traders and operators are poor. While acknowledging finance is limited there are still simple things that can be done to make the offer more professional. Have pride in your market.

Thirdly let’s be clear about policies and procedures. Both operators and traders need to be able to access details of policies and procedures and these need to be reviewed from time to time.

Every market should have its own Markets Manual.

Happy New Year and to all markets a successful 2016.

GrahamWilson OBE, Chief Executive, NABMA