As its multi-million pound refurbishment nears completion, Leeds Kirkgate Market is giving speciality and artisan food and drink producers the chance to take up some of the remaining prime spots within its impressive new fresh food hall.
Just voted ‘Britain’s Favourite Market’ at the Great British Market Awards, Kirkgate’s new combined fresh food hall will open this spring and it is a completely new concept for the market. For the first time in its history, the market will bring together meat, fish, game and other fresh food and premium produce in one defined area.
The opportunity is a big one for Yorkshire’s smaller food and drink producers – to cost-effectively reach a sought-after city centre audience. Kirkgate Market’s long-established and much-loved fishmongers, butchers, seafood stalls and greengrocers are already in position – so a strong customer base is guaranteed. And when Victoria Gate opens, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors, the Market is ideally positioned to benefit greatly from the increased footfall and customer spending in addition to the nine million visitors per year who currently visit this historic shopping destination.
Speciality and artisan fresh produce retailers interested in finding out what Kirkgate Market could offer their business can come along to two events Leeds City Council is holding this month. The market is keen to attract an eclectic mix of unique speciality food and drink stalls to complement the traders who are already there.
Some examples of the type of business Leeds City Council is keen to introduce are:
• World food; fresh, speciality, niche, supermarkets
• Pies, homemade/handmade, hot and cold
• Eggs, dairy, cheese
• Artisan breads/bakery
• Ice cream parlour
• Handmade chocolates
• Smoothies, shakes, bubble tea, coffee
• Micro brewery
• Wine retailer
• Organic produce
• Local or farm produce
• Ethnic specialities (e.g. Indian sweets)
Councillor Gerry Harper, deputy executive member responsible for regeneration, transport and planning, said:
“Home to some amazing characters, bursting with history and offering amazing value, we already know that Kirkgate Market has so much to offer traders, shoppers and visitors alike.
“We are very proud of what Kirkgate already has to offer and there will always be a place for the traditional produce and traders which our customers already know and love.
“This is a great opportunity to be part of one of the most exciting developments in Leeds today. We are looking for established speciality food businesses with something unique to offer to join forces with our existing well established and popular traders to help us create a highly successful, profitable and sustainable destination market which is a centre of excellence for independent retailers and entrepreneurs.”
Jamie Ramsden – Ramsdens
A family run business for over 100 years; Jamie Ramsden has been behind the counter of one of Leeds Kirkgate Market’s oldest stalls for over 20 years. The fourth generation of his family to take the mantle since Ramsdens paired with Arthur Welham’s back in 1968; it’s the dedication to fresh produce and customer service that has seen the business thrive decade after decade.
Sourcing fresh produce from across the world every day, Ramsdens stall is one of the most eye-catching on Fish Row. The huge range of fish can be intimidating for some as they stock exotic fish that you won’t see at the supermarket, but Ramsdens is proud of its knowledge and it always looks to help customers find what they’re after.
It’s not uncommon to see Jamie and his staff recommending produce to customers, offering it to them based on a combination of their own personal taste and expert knowledge of fish. This tailor-made approach to the customer is what Leeds Kirkgate Market is all about, and the fact that Ramsdens have been there for nearly 100 years is concrete proof that it’s what people want.
But it’s not just those who visit Leeds Kirkgate Market that buy from Ramsdens, they also supply schools, restaurants and pubs across the region. Anyone who’s ever had a fish dish at Leeds’ award winning Thai restaurant, Sukhothai, is eating Ramsdens fresh fish from that morning.
Jamie is looking forward to the completion of the refurbishment of Leeds Kirkgate Market, simply stating that
“We’re proud to have called Leeds Kirkgate Market our home for almost a century and providing our customers with the best possible produce and personal service is what we’ve always been about. Bringing together a wider selection of like-minded fresh produce businesses, for like-minded customers can only be a good thing.”
Cliff Hocken – Haye’s Seafood and Shellfish
The last place you’d expect to see stars of showbiz is at a stall in Leeds Kirkgate Market, but Haye’s has seen everyone from TV chef Brian Turner to folk singer Ralph McTell champion their fresh seafood and oysters.
Haye’s has been part of the market since 1880, with Cliff Hocken and his wife, Michelle, taking over the business back in 1984. Living around the markets their entire lives, with Michelle’s parents running their own stall once upon a time, they left their careers in banking and the motor trade in search of a change of pace.
Sourcing their seafood and shellfish locally, they pride themselves on “doing things a little differently from the rest.” Haye’s is the only place in Leeds that dresses its crab on the premises, as well as selling fresh crab sandwiches. Haye’s expertise when it comes to its produce is also something that sets it apart from the rest at Leeds Kirkgate Market, helping the business gain many regular customers, some of which span five generations.
The history and heritage of Leeds Kirkgate Market is something that is important to Cliff and Michelle and they’re hoping that upcoming changes – taking a new stall in the refurbished fresh produce area – will maintain the importance of the local economy.
“Now more than ever, it’s important to support local business. You see grandparents showing their grandchildren around Leeds Kirkgate Market, it’s about maintaining that history and heritage, and hopefully these changes should see the market come full circle. It offers service and expertise that you simply can’t get anywhere else.”
Michael Saynor – Malcolm Michaels Butchers
One of the most popular stalls in Leeds Kirkgate Market, Malcolm Michaels has been providing people across the region with truly locally sourced meat for more than 20 years.
Michael Saynor, who runs the stall with nephew Malcolm Leary – hence the name – got into the butchery business running the previous stall with Malcolm’s father, after it opened in 1968.
Starting up on his own in 1993, he’s decided that a family business is the best kind of business, bringing in two more nephews when he opened up the second unit next door.
When it comes to the meat itself, Michael is a little bit modest,
“we don’t really offer anything that different to many other butchers.”
But what really sets Malcolm Michaels apart is their quality.
“We only sell meat that’s locally sourced. In fact, it’s so locally sourced that the furthest we travel for it is Bradford.”
One thing that does set them apart is their dedication to their product. Preparing everything on the premises, they even make their own sausages, offering up to 15 different varieties, including simple pork and more exotic fare like chilli and mixed herbs. These are some of their most popular items throughout the summer months.
In fact, it was a barbecue that grabbed Malcolm Michaels some of their most loyal customers.
“We did a barbecue for Francis Cummins’ testimonial event at Leeds Rhinos. Since then we’ve become a sponsor for Leeds Rhinos Academy and their players shop with us regularly.”
Not content with fuelling one of the country’s most successful rugby teams, Malcolm Michaels also supply a number of restaurants, cafes and pubs across the city, including Sunshine Bakery and Sesame.
As much a fixture in the city as Leeds Kirkgate Market itself, Malcolm Michaels is even known in Europe, with a Swedish newspaper once covering the business’ exploits. But the company will only ever be faithful to Leeds. If the giant Union Jack above its entrance doesn’t give that away.
“We like being in Leeds because of the people. At the end of the day, we are what we are, and that attitude is why our customers come to us.”
When it comes to future plans for Malcolm Michaels, Michael is full of ideas.
“We’ll have a bigger space, so we’re looking to introduce a wider and more diverse selection in terms of meat, but also to open a deli counter with cheeses, a variety of pies and much more. It’s something I’ve tried in the past, but we’ve never had the space to really do it justice before.”
In addition to its latest accolade of “Britain’s Favourite Market” Kirkgate Market won the TripAdvisor Award for Excellence in 2014 and 2015. It has a large and loyal following on social media with over 19,000 followers on Twitter, and over 5000 followers on Facebook as well as its own dedicated customer-facing website, www.leedsmarkets.co.uk
Many market stallholders already have a significant social media following, enjoying loyal customers who continually have positive relationships and levels of engagement with their favourite stall holders.
For more information or to enquire about booking a stall at the market, please call 0113 378 1950 or email firstname.lastname@example.org