Asian bazaar set to bring added spice to town’s outdoor market

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PLANS to bring an Asian-style “bazaar” to a Yorkshire outdoor market, in a bid to enliven what is currently the quietest day of trading, are set to be agreed at a meeting this week.

Rotherham Council has drawn up plans for trader Shabir Hussain, who currently runs a bazaar in Leeds outdoor market on Wednesdays, to take over Rotherham market each Thursday.

Robin Lambert, general manager of Rotherham’s market, says in a report set to go before the council: “The concept is that the market would be unique when compared to any other that currently exists locally, and will cater for customers not just in Rotherham but the wider region.”

Figures show that Thursdays are currently the quietest trading day on Rotherham’s outdoor market, with footfall averaging 60 per cent of that on other trading days.

Owing to slow trade in the afternoons, a number of stallholders currently close at lunchtime.

“This dilutes the attractiveness of the market to shoppers and has a detrimental impact on the other businesses”, Mr Lambert says.

He added: “Adding a specialist or niche market held on a Thursday is a response to the message that customers want new shopping experiences .

“A new general market would not necessarily attract new shoppers or traders and, that being the case, would dilute footfall by spreading the same number of customer visits over more days.”

The planned Asian market, to be called “The Bazaar”, will be made up of 80 per cent Asian products such as fabrics, jewellery, footwear, spices and Halal sweets.

The remaining 20 per cent of goods on sale will “not have to fall within this category”, and existing market traders in Rotherham will be able to apply for a stall.

“Although the offer is expected to be of interest to shoppers from the Asian community, the objective would be to attract members of all communities to experience something different”, Mr Lambert said.

He added: “In order to establish the market, and attract the number of visitors required to make the market a success, the operator will need to carry out widespread promotion to raise awareness of the new offer, particularly among new customers who do not currently visit Rotherham to shop.”

Plans set to be agreed by Rotherham Council’s cabinet member for regeneration and development on Wednesday involve offering a licence to operate The Bazaar for a trial period of a year, with an option to extend it for another two years if successful.

Mr Hussain, rather than Rotherham Council, would be responsible for recruiting traders, marketing, allocating stalls and cleaning the site.

Mr Lambert said: “It is anticipated that the introduction of a new Thursday market will improve the town centre offer and raise the profile of the Centenary Market.

“Consequently, there will be benefits across the town centre but particularly to the indoor market in increased footfall and the potential for increased spend.”

This is the latest scheme thought up by Rotherham Council in a bid to revitalise the struggling town centre.

On Saturday, it was announced that Rotherham had been selected by the Government as one of seven towns across the country to be recognised for the “innovative ways in which they have revitalised their high streets.”

Each of those seven towns, of which Rotherham was the only one in Yorkshire, were cited as an “example to communities across the country of what can be done to breathe new life into their high streets”.

Rotherham has been awarded £268,058 from a £1m funding pot, to be divided among the seven areas.

Local Growth Minister Mark Prisk said: “It is in everyone’s interests to see our town centres thrive, and I want people across the country to take inspiration from these towns and look at what can be done when communities work together.”