23 May 2016: London borough installs solar panels over marketplace

The London borough of Hounslow has installed 6000 solar panels over the rooftop of Western International wholesale market – it is the biggest solar scheme by any local authority – and has the added advantage of storing energy in batteries on-site.

You can read more – and see a photograph – here


15 March 2015 – market photographs – records of change

Many people are aware of ‘The Street Markets of London” by Mary Benedetta and the wonderful black and white photographs by L. Moholy-Nagy, published in 1936 (see this blog 1 November 2013). I have also pointed out the blog called Spitalfields life and this link has more black and white photographs, taken from glass slides housed at the Bishopsgate Institute Library, and some reflections on London’s old markets, as they operated in the early twentieth century (see this blog 15 December 2013). I have recently acquired another small volume of black and white photographs of ‘Preston Market’ by Craig Atkinson which are reminiscent of this earlier era in the capital which are well worth a look.

You can find out more about the Preston Market volume here

24 January 2015 – Mission for Markets

As Joe Harrison, UK National Market Traders Federation (NMTF) Chief Executive, talks about how changing shopping habits and on-line sales are hitting market traders in this month’s excellent Market Times , there is also coverage of a new campaign – Mission for Markets – run jointly by NMTF and the National Association of British Market Authorities (NABMA). This is taking an in-depth look at the markets industry and encourages traders and operators to share experience of what it’s like trading on markets today – and what they see as essential for the future – through a series of roadshows. A major on-line survey will follow. This looks like an exciting new initiative which will generate valuable new insights for traders, operators and policymakers alike.

18 January 2015 – the future of food markets and the inflating shopping list

BBC radio 4 has broadcast two good programmes today – The Future of Food Markets on the Food Programme that you can listen to here and The Inflating Shopping Basket – you can listen to here. The Future of Food Markets has pieces on the new Markthal in Rotterdam, featured in recent posts on this blog, and new developments at London’s Covent Garden wholesale market and Leicester’s vibrant traditional market. The programme has interesting reflections on the changing, but pivotal role of food markets as food provisioning systems adapt and innovate. The second programme on The Inflating Shopping Basket is a fascinating piece on how changing food shopping habits and trends can be traced through the annual analysis of the Consumer Price Index. It rings a lot of bells about changing food choices from post second world war to what (and where) people are buying today. It put me in mind of something written by John Thompson in 2010 – Milk, Eggs, Arugula, Identity – about the ‘new’ everyday. If you are interested, you can read it here

2 December 2014 – popular food markets in Europe

The UK Guardian website has a short piece that recommends popular food markets in Europe. It puts the new Markthal in Rotterdam at the top of the list (see listing for 4 October) – I’m planning a trip in the New Year to see for myself.
You can read the article here: http://www.theguardian.com/travel/2014/dec/01/top-10-food-markets-europe-berlin-vienna-london

30 September 2014 – Teenage markets

There is an interactive website aimed at teenage market traders. The platform was set up by brothers Tom and Joe Barrett after the first successful market was held in Stockport in 2012, where they worked with market manager Paul Downs, as one way of revitalising the town’s local market.

The concept is described on the website like this:
The Teenage Market is the perfect opportunity for markets to connect with their town’s large population of young people, by providing a free platform for them to be entrepreneurial, try out a new a business idea and sell creative products…The Teenage Market gives young people who are already trading online, a chance to trade at their local market.

Live music and performance is also part of the market experience, as is food and drink.

You can see more, including details of how to join the UK’s national network here

4 September 2014 – do Tesco’s struggles offer opportunities for markets?

In last week’s Observer (31 August), journalist Sarah Butler reported some views on what priorities the new CEO of UK Tesco could be facing in his new job as sales continue to fall and pressure from discount chains Aldi and Lidl grows. These opinions ranged from – addressing pricing and marketing, to store numbers and ranges (particularly cutting the number of big out-of-town stores), to raising store standards and improving customer care, to improving fresh food quality, and even prioritising Christmas! One perception was that people no longer use one store to ‘do everything’ – they pick and choose between the range of supermarket offerings. For example, Aldi and Lidl to save money and Waitrose for quality and service.

As previously noted on this blog, one can’t help thinking that there really is a sea-change going on, and that this presents opportunities to raise the profile of food markets. As the presence of small supermarkets grows on the high street (which raises prices), so the quality, range and value of fresh produce available on markets will become more obvious – and, as customers react to poor staff morale (and lack of staff) in supermarkets, so recognition that local markets are places for social shopping, where customer care is still the norm, could become a key attraction.