The Lancashire Market

The Lancashire Market

Now held three times a year, The Lancashire Market, operated by the Preston Business Improvement District averages 100 stalls.

Q: So what new start opportunities are there on the Lancashire Market?
We heavily subsidise the cost of trading at the Lancashire Market to encourage fledgling, cottage and pre-starts to be able to discover the benefits of being part of a community event such as ours.

Businesses within the immediate locality actually trade for free, we cover the cost of the pitch, stall, associated equipment, power and marketing. This has worked exceptionally well for several traders who, thanks to being a part of our event, have now formed official companies and travel markets across the country and are in high demand.

Several of our traders have also grown, whilst still supporting our event, and have officially opened a permanent retail unit in the city.

We organise the market to enable inexperienced traders to work alongside more experienced operators and offer support, guidance and signposting to ensure their experience is a successful one and support their long-term aspirations.

Since the Lancashire Market began in 2010, more than 250,000 people have visited the event, we have been fortunate to attract a significant regional audience which has benefited not only our market, but the wider city centre.

Q: Is social media important to your organisation and do you use it?
We do indeed, it’s very important that we use social media to promote our event and our aims. We use Twitter, Facebook and have amassed a database of over 54,000 people from our event, which we promote the event to. We also work closely with the local media, including regular (and on the day) interviews with the BBC, our local newspaper, the Lancashire Evening Post and our leading online journal Blog Preston.

The event would not succeed without the support of the local traders, business community and of course, attendees.

Q: What examples of innovation can you share with us?
We have re-introduced our picnic garden, which allows patrons more time to relax, take in the ambiance and dwell longer. We’ve also measured turnover from the traders and those offering ‘food to go’ have seen an increase in trade thanks to our providing a welcoming, animated, place to stay a while.

It’s important for us that we consider animation and attraction, on top of our traders offer. This ensures that we remain an ‘attraction’ and have something to offer all sections of the family.

We have reintroduced the Market stage, which features entertainment and a presenter across the day, which is programmed to ensure that the audience is catered for.

We always ensure our attractions are free, we offer entertainment, the picnic garden, free face-painting, free family caricatures and animal attractions (local birds of prey sanctuary / living zoo [animal charity]) which we support via a donation to their worthwhile cause.

We have also introduced a ‘best dressed stall competition’ to drive up trader standards.

In 2014 we held the Lancashire Market as part of the city’s wider celebration of food. The Market was a key event during the month long campaign and secured significant profile as such. Jean Christophe Novelli visited the Market and met the patrons and traders and presented the award for the best dressed stall; this achieved significant coverage, post event.

Q: How do you promote links with the local community?
We promote the market via a variety of methods, traditional ones like flyers (20,000 distributed across the city centre’s tourist attractions and retail operations), we have strong relationships with the local press and media too. Social and e-media are strong avenues which allow us to have dialogue with our patrons and traders, many of whom are made aware via our online communications, generally leading to them taking a stall or visiting/supporting/cross promoting our event.

We see our event as a community event, a hub for all to come together like they did in the Markets of yesterday, as a business incubator and as something to look forward to.

Our regional high-end periodical ‘Lancashire Life’ has recently recognised that our city has become something of a paradise for ‘foodies’ and has recognised and featured the Lancashire Market as a key part of this development.

We also work with our local regular Market, Preston Market, and offer their traders free pitches at our event, we most recently held cookery demonstrations with international chefs using produce only found at our regular Market to drive up more frequent patronage to them; we covered the entire cost for this.

Each patron that visits our event is also given a complimentary city centre voucher booklet which contains, on average, around 60 vouchers saving them money at businesses across the city centre. We also offer our city’s regular market free advertising within this publication (we hand out over 4,000 on Lancashire Market day).

The Lancashire Market is now firmly established in the annual city calendar and we’re proud to be enhancing the traditional market offer by working hard to see it thrive and continue for decades to come.

Q: Can you tell us a bit about working with local partners?
We partner with the local BBC Radio station and regularly feature live on air with market producers and traders, live interviews on the day of the event are undertaken which acts as a valuable aide memoire about the day’s event.

We are granted permission to hold the event and work closely with Preston City Council, in particularly, their Market Manager. They publically recognise the stature of event and the vibrancy it adds to the city when the event takes place. They also value our support towards their traders and our ambition to keep Market’s a core part of Preston’s offer for many years to come.

We offer presence at the event to local schools, charities and community groups in order for them to gain experience and have the opportunity to drive revenue.

The local press always attend the event and following each Lancashire Market will produce photo-special of the weekends activities.

We’ve been lucky enough to secure some commercial support at part events from Waitrose who worked hand-in-glove our traders.

Q: Anything else?
We’ve created something from scratch, promoting local produce. The Lancashire Market began as an event that promoted local, quality food & drink, we’ve since included a gift/craft element which has been hugely popular, yet we still maintain our ethos about ‘keeping it local’.

The BID funds the event in its entirety with the purpose of creating a thriving event where the businesses and traders have a great platform on which to secure awareness and revenue. It’s also a significantly important event to members of the public, where they can come and support market traders, via a community hub event, therefore supporting the vital work that Markets do.

We’ve grown the event from 35 traders back in 2010 to over 100 in 2015 and have increased footfall on an event-by-event basis (unless it rains…). The qudos of the Lancashire Market is evidenced by now allowing us to sustain a five-week event across the Christmas Period. This takes place on the city’s historic ‘Flag Market’ (civic square) and features a real ice rink, alpine bar, animated attractions, Christmas carol crib and much more; all whilst still subsiding the cost of trading to local Market traders.

We are proud of what we’ve achieved, the goodwill we have secured and the relationships we have forged – the Lancashire Market is truly a family affair between all partners, and in little over five years, we’re pleased with what we’ve achieved. We have more to do and improvements to be made and these will be done, but some recognition for us, the city and our traders would be truly outstanding.