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Market ‘takes our trade’
Friday, 13 July 2012
A GROUP of shopkeepers and cafe owners claim they could be weeks away from going bust because a revamped market is taking their business.
The newly formed Lower Marsh Action Group (LMAG) members complain they are struggling to compete because new market traders have lower overheads. They say they voted in favour of the market – open from Wednesday to Friday in Waterloo – being rejuvenated because they were sold the idea of a craft market with few food stalls.
But Westminster Artisans (WA), which manages the market for Lambeth council, and Waterloo Quarter, a business-led lobbying group set up to promote the area, have defended the move to entice more market traders into the busy shopping stretch.
They claim to have the support of most traders and residents in the area. But hundreds have signed an LMAG petition calling for the number of food stalls to be cut.
An LMAG spokeswoman told the South London Press: “The idea sounded really good and we thought we would benefit. “But many of us have been here for years and had loyal customers. Most of the stalls sell food and they just do not have the overheads that we have.
“It’s not their fault but WA should not have allowed stalls in direct competition with us.
“Now we’re are looking at having to close. We were willing to accept a small percentage of food stalls but now we are demanding that all the food stands are removed. Sometimes 90 per cent are selling hot food.”
But WA director Julie Bundy said other factors were involved.
She said: “It’s a shame a small minority of retailers are unhappy. We are sympathetic to the competitive pressure these businesses are under and, in particular, the impact of an increased number of chain cafes opening within close proximity and the closure of large local offices. We reduced the number and continue to turn away new food traders on a daily basis.
“I would also point to the success of the relaunched in attracting additional footfall.”
A WA spokesman said before the market rejuvenation only seven of the 77 pitches were regularly used.
He said: “This is based on the wishes of local businesses and residents who have repeatedly expressed their desire to see the market rejuvenated. “We have been managing the market since September and have had up to 25 traders on the street. “It’s generally accepted that footfall has increased – even critics of the market acknowledged this.”
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