We had our apprehensions with early registrations not coming in as quickly as we had hoped but in the end we need not have worried. Love Your Local Market has been another tremendous success with numbers on a par with 2015.

We celebrated this year’s event with a Reception in the Houses of Parliament on the 11th May, hosted by Jim Fitzpatrick MP, Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Markets Group, with our principal speaker Marcus Jones MP, Minister for Markets. This was followed by launch event on the 17th May at Bristol St Nicholas Market with The Minister again in attendance.

The number of countries joining this great celebration of markets continues to grow with interest from India and South Korea in recent weeks.

We also used the Parliamentary Reception to celebrate the excellent working relationship that currently exists between NABMA and NMTF and, as part of the Reception NMTF presented Nicola Martin of Tameside Council with their Market Manager of the Year Award. Nicola is one if the brightest and most dedicated of our young Market Managers and it is great delight to see her recognised in this way.

May has also seen the launch of our Annual Markets Retail Survey with questionnaires for both operators and traders. The initial response to completing the questionnaires has been disappointing with the first month producing only a fraction of the numbers submitted last year. I hope that the response gets better as we move into June. So if you are reading this article and you have not completed the questionnaire do it now.

As an industry we need to get better at evaluating performance. I know that with cuts in resources the day job is getting more difficult to deliver but if we cannot produce performance information about our markets how can we make meaningful assessments about where we are going in the future.

NABMA currently has lots of information about the health and future challenges of the markets industry and we produce all this material for the benefit of our members and the wider industry. I urge everyone interested in the future of markets to look at the publications section of our website at www.nabma.com. I am sure you will find lots of resources to help you deliver a better market.

This is always a nervous time of the year because it is when our members renew their membership to NABMA. Given that the majority of our members are local authorities I wondered this year about the impact of local authority cuts on membership. However the first membership returns have been very encouraging with a record 115 members renewing their memberships by the end of April.

Perhaps the reason for such membership levels resides in the fact that the markets industry has lost so much expertise and experience over the last ten or fifteen years. When I became NABMA Chief Executive I could count on a “pool” of around 25/30 experienced Market Managers who could be relied on to mentor and support younger and inexperienced colleagues. That number is now probably no more than ten and, as a consequence, we have to nurture and encourage younger and professional Market Managers.

I mentioned earlier Nicola Martin at Tameside. Another who comes to mind is Daniel Ritchie at Cambridge who last year won NABMA’s Market Manager of the Year Awards. These are examples of the people who are vital to the future well being of the markets industry.

NABMA has put in place the Diploma qualification to help train the next generation of Market Managers and it is encouraging to note that we are getting requests for regional training events and we currently looking at how we might deliver this extended training.

Markets represents a vital asset and that asset often has a significant role to play beyond the retail activity. That role can include education, community involvement, entertainment and special events. At NABMA’s Annual Conference we want to see how markets are “Maximising The Asset” and provide an opportunity for spreading good practice. Please join us in Stratford Upon Avon between the 18th and 20th September. Full details are available via the NABMA website.

There is lots happening in June with our visit to Glasgow Wholesale Market on the 3rd June and a visit to Ludlow on the 29th June. Both are award winning markets that offer great opportunities for passing on lots of great information. Sandwiched between is NABMA’s Review Board when we will finalise our plans for the next twelve months. More about that in next month’s article.

GrahamWilson OBE, Chief Executive, NABMA