Initial assessments revealed a market with dwindling occupancy rates and a rental structure which failed to reflect good retail practice. The estate had a strong anchor of food retailers, creating a critical mass of desirable tenants, however the independent retail was dwindling as traders retired or left due to competition with online shopping and nearby out of town retail parks. Recommendations were made to attract new traders into these areas of the estate, including discounted rent periods and new trader incentives presented in mutually equitable occupational agreements.
An aspirational tenant mix was prepared for the Wool Market development including food and beverage, artisan retail and destination services. A pre-lettings campaign was undertaken by Quarterbridge Lettings, giving particular attention to the Markets’ existing tenant base, resulting in 90% occupancy within the first month of opening. The tenant mix includes new start-ups, existing local businesses and tenants from elsewhere on the estate, all of which are SME’s and independent businesses.
New rental structures for the Wool Market were designed and implemented to attract desirable tenants in the face of regional competition, including phased rents for retail units and a mix of base and turnover rents for catering units. Leases included ‘Start-Up Business Leases’ with flexible in/out terms and minimal start-up costs, which resulted in a variety of local start-up businesses taking premises in the new market.
The Wool Market was designed to act as a market, food hall and events venue to stimulate a town-centre evening economy. Advice was given on how to curate this space with a programme of events, music and entertainment to diversify the offer and create a destination venue which has attracted a clientele who have not historically attended the market.
An open, multi-use area was incorporated into the design to act as additional seating, area for pop-up themed markets and space to host events.
Opening hours were formulated to develop a family-friendly evening offer and act as a catalyst for surrounding businesses to expand their evening economy. Since the opening of the Wool Market, which closes at 9pm on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, neighbouring businesses have experienced an average of a 20% upturn in their takings, representing positive local socio-economic regeneration.
Across the wider estate, a review was undertaken of existing contracts and recommendations made to improve value for money across the service. Operational procedures were reviewed to streamline management practices and improve trader communication systems.
The market’s marketing and social media were reviewed to identify key issues, and a high-level marketing and communications strategy was produced. Quarterbridge operatives were deployed to assist the site team in the establishment and maintenance of social media platforms. New branding was produced, including a Doncaster Market Logo, and a basic website was created which provided a directory of traders in the market.
A market-wide review was undertaken to identify key areas for capital improvement, including outline designs and CAPEX estimations. This included a mix of major improvement works and aspirational works to improve the market offer.