Radical action is being taken to revive the fortunes of Bridgend Indoor Market.
New stallholders will be offered the chance to rent stalls at around half the cost of current rents, while existing stallholders will get a significant rent reduction until at least April 2020.
Cabinet Members from Bridgend County Borough Council agreed the rent reductions this week, and also approved a range of other proposals that are intended to attract new businesses to fill the market’s empty stalls.
New signage is planned, lease terms will become more flexible, and a central market square could be created which could include an events space and children’s play area.
Last winter, we granted existing traders a 15 per cent rent rebate, but a further four stalls have vacated since March and no replacement tenants have been found.
Everyone agrees that we have to take radical action to bring the buzz and vibrancy back to the indoor market. This decline cannot continue.
Councillor Charles Smith, the council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Education
The council owns a 99-year leasehold interest in Bridgend Indoor Market and has another 53 years of the term remaining. It pays an annual rent of £133k to the owners of the Rhiw Shopping Centre, and when you include running expenses, service charges and rates, it costs the council around £368k a year to run the indoor market.
Current traders pay a total of £174k in rent, so the forecast deficit for 2018/19 is £194k.
But with 44 per cent of the stalls currently lying vacant, and vacancies risk of increasing further, the gap between the income the council receives and the costs of running the market is widening.
One of the main reasons cited by traders for leaving the indoor market is the relatively high cost of the rent when compared with other markets and retail units.
While we need to be mindful of our own leasehold costs, we believe that it would be more fruitful to lower rents and fill the vacant stalls which in turn would generate more income in the long run.
Watts & Morgan, our agents who are marketing the stall spaces, will be able to attract new traders by offering initial rents at up to 52 per cent of the current level. We are aiming for this incentive to help boost the number of occupied stalls back up to at least 85 per cent.
Generating more footfall will of course be beneficial for existing traders who will themselves receive a rent reduction of 25 per cent from 1 July onwards but will retain their prime trading spots.”
Market traders are also in agreement with relaxing the current lease terms which prevent new traders from selling products that are already on sale elsewhere in the indoor market. For example, two butchers or two flower stalls. Traders are now open to lifting these restraints, accepting that more potential customers visiting the market is good for everyone’s business.
Councillor Charles Smith, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Education, said:
“This plan is the result of a close working partnership between the council, market traders, the Rhiw Shopping Centre, Bridgend Town Council, the CF31 business improvement group, local elected members and more.
“It recognises a number of difficult truths and presents a series of realistic, viable proposals while also making it clear that it is not enough to expect the council to turn things around on its own. The recent trader-led craft fair initiative with council support is a good example of this combined approach.
“We all have a part to play, from us making the market as pleasant a place to visit as possible, to ultimately the traders selling products that customers want. With the support of local residents, I have every hope that we can make a great success of the market if we all work together.”