Our second case study is Newcastle-upon-Tyne’s Grainger Market, whose 110 units are housed within a Grade-1 listed market hall, first opened to the public in 1835. Today, the market is open for trade six days a week, Monday to Saturday. Around 130,000 shoppers visit the market each week, helping to generate an annual surplus of £500,000 for the Council from an income of £1.3 million. Less than 10% of units are vacant.
For Christmas 2011, the management team and traders organised Grainger’s first night market, which attracted 11,000 visitors, and the precedent has been followed ever since. Units are occupied by a mix of long-standing traders and new additions, including take-away and street food traders. The market operator lets a stall for free to Newcastle City Food Bank and manages a small flexible open space for community activities and specialist markets.
As at Bury, customers are predominantly white British, and it seems that the city’s diverse ethnic groups prefer to shop and socialise in the nearby West End. The percentage of younger people, students and ethnic minorities visiting the market is relatively low but increasing strongly. Research carried out in 2014 for Newcastle City Council indicated that, at present, 72% of the market’s clientele are female, whilst 78% have been visiting for more than 10 years.
Grainger Market is operated under Charter rights by the Commercial Property Team, within the Operations Directorate of Newcastle City Council. It has a strong local NMTF group, which has developed good relations with the market management. Traders meet monthly, with the market management team attending bi-monthly.
The current focus for the management team is a refurbishment programme for the doors and the glazed, barrelled roof in the arcade. Although the market consistently returns a surplus to the city council, there appears to be very little scope to retain funds to pay for refurbishment work, which is instead to be paid for via prudential borrowing. This triggered a market testing exercise in 2018 to explore options for raising rental income in order to pay back the borrowing. We understand this exercise is presently on hold; we look forward to meeting with council officials to find out more about this process.