Wellington Market Company Plc, the company behind of some of the UK’s biggest indoor markets, has revealed ambitious plans that will see its St. Austell-based Cornish Market World site totally transformed with the latest phase of its multi-million-pound retail investment.
Established in 1991, in the last few years, the 65,000-square-foot site has suffered the double impact of both serious flooding and recession; and whilst this has had a negative effect, the green shoots of recovery are very-much in evidence and this has acted as a catalyst for the change that’s now being unveiled.
Andrew Robertson, director with Town and Country Markets – the operational arm of Wellington Market Company Plc – explained: “Although we are seeing year-on-year growth in the site’s rejuvenated family play facility, our market – albeit thriving – has failed to return to its pre-flood occupancy levels.”
“Extensive external market research has revealed that, on average, around 15,000 people visit the site every weekend and we found that more than half of them are from the St Austell area.
“Rather pleasingly, we were also told that Cornish Market World is viewed as a vital part of the local community and there was a definite appetite for extending the market’s trading days from just weekends.”
This has resulted in the company successfully applying for planning permission to not only expand the site’s retail operations to seven-day trading, but transform the building’s exterior, create three new retail units, redesign the market hall and create a new community space to house pop-up events that will benefit the wider community.
Robertson continued: “It’s widely accepted that, following much greater competition from supermarkets, traditional markets have been in decline for many decades now. Our company operates sites throughout the UK and has developed a template that is allowing markets to thrive in today’s retail environment – as successfully demonstrated at sites such as Old Spitalfields Market.”
“Our plans will start with radically overhauling our building’s façade – with a combination of contemporary glazing and timber cladding – moving away from the ‘tin shed’ style that’s so prevalent in out-of-town retail parks. This will enable us to construct a space for a high-quality farm shop that will celebrate the best food and drink that our county has to offer, along with two further units that would be suitable for a variety of retail propositions.
“This new frontage will lead visitors to a totally redesigned market hall that’s home to our 75 independent traders and food outlets, along with the newly-created community space that will play host to events and pop-up retail such as our Creative Cornwall initiative that’s acting as an incubator space for talented Cornish artisans.
“With around a thousand free car parking spaces and a demonstrable appeal to visitors, we’re an attractive proposition for national or regional retailers wishing to establish a foothold in the St Austell area.”
Wellington Market Company is planning to complete the construction work in time for a spring 2015 opening in order for its retailers to capitalise on the start of next year’s tourist season.
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Town and Country Markets Ltd
Town and Country Markets Ltd is wholly owned by Wellington Market Company Plc, a public company created by an Act of Parliament in the middle of the nineteenth century and can trace its history back to 1244 when Wellington Market was established by Royal Charter. It has become the leading private sector retail market operator in the United Kingdom. Currently it operates 18 markets at various locations throughout England and Wales and is the only public company operating retail markets.
An ISDX-quoted company, in the year ending 31st December 2013, its turnover was £6.2m with around 80 FTE employees.