Doncaster Wool Market

Redevelopment including Food Hall Street Food

Quarterbridge advised DMBC on the redevelopment of the Grade II listed Wool Market which formed part of the overall Markets estate in Doncaster town centre since March 2017. The Council secured regeneration grant funding from the Sheffield City Region Investment Fund (SCRIF) for these works, but the funding was time limited and therefore, a strict timeline for delivery was required.

Project Value : £5 million
Project Fees : £ 100K
Project Commencement Date- October 2016
Delivery Date : November 2018
Client: Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council
Contact: Drew Oxley, Head of Trading Services: [email protected]

Quarterbridge was retained to:

  • Review the market estate, including the production of a leasing strategy, business cases and capital improvement strategies to the nine distinct market areas, including outline designs, computer-generated imagery, specifications and CAPEX, culminating in an investment strategy and financing methodology.
  • Develop a market-wide rent review appraisal, report to the client and implement changes based on the leasing strategy produced for the estate. The review included the introduction of zoning and establishing service charge recovery principles.
  • Develop a new Doncaster Market logo, website and social media, including providing advice and guidance to site staff on the effective use of social media and the development of materials to assist traders in establishing their own social media presence.
  • Improve market management systems, including a full root and branch review and deploy three members of Quarterbridge interim management team to assist DMBC during the development phases of the market.
  • Develop a Wool Market investment strategy and business plan, including:
  1. Leasing strategy including innovative turnover rent agreements
  2. Post-development rental structure
  3. Post-development management structure
  4. Five-year projected trading forecast
  5. New legal bundle including leases, management regulations, operating guides, shop-fitting guides and shopper’s charter.
  • Work with architect and contractor to redevelop the Wool Market, develop a strategy to decant traders pending construction, act as letting agents for new market and improve management regimes.
  • Investigate and report future ownership and management options for the market estate, including additional investment strategies.

During the Wool Market redevelopment, Quarterbridge (working closely with the markets team) provided special attention and additional resources to ensuring that existing market traders were engaged and listened to during a period of rapid change, through one-on-one engagement and group correspondence. The decant was achieved without negative reputation management issues for the Council, with existing Wool Market traders relocating to other areas of the Market Estate, taking the opportunity to retire or expanding into vacant town centre retail units.

The core basis of the project and guidance on the redevelopment came from 10 principles we use when creating a leasing strategy, similar to those a shopping centre may use, but specifically designed and aimed at independent businesses and market/food hall situations.

  • Review of current vacancy levels
  • Upcoming lease/licence expiry’s
  • Occupancy Costs vs Market Rental Levels including rent styles such turnover rents
  • Anchor Tenants or aspirational anchor tenants
  • Review of existing tenant mix
  • Engagement with existing tenants to understand their views, aspirations and requirements
  • Engagement with shoppers (both existing and non-market shoppers through in person surveys and online surveys) to discover shopper requirements
  • Local and regional competition
  • How can new businesses be attracted?
  • Investment required in vacant space to make it attractive space for new lettings or alternative uses.

Quarterbridge provided special attention and additional resources to ensuring that existing market traders were engaged and listened to during a period of rapid change

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.

Wool Market
Wool Market