Retail expertise at a flagship £32m shopping centre is being harnessed to help revamp a centuries-old street market in Northumberland.
Morpeth’s weekly market – together with the town’s monthly farmers’ market – will be officially re-launched later this year, with modern new stalls and other improvements aimed at making them more attractive to traders and customers.
The initiative has been developed with the town’s Sanderson Arcade shopping centre, which has proved a major success since it was opened by Absolutely Fabulous star Joanna Lumley four years ago.
Staff from the arcade will support the management of the revamped markets, and help out with marketing and associated events aimed at increasing trade.
They will work with the county council, the town council and the Morpeth town team on what is being described as a unique public/private partnership in market management. If successful, the model could be rolled out for other North East market towns to adopt.
The re-launch will see the markets get a new look, featuring modern, blue and white stalls emblazoned with a More in Morpeth branding, additional power supplies, ground anchors, new tables and an active marketing campaign.
It is scheduled to take place on Saturday, October 5, when a food and drink festival will be held in the town centre.
Sanderson Arcade manager Medi Parry said: “We are delighted to be working with other stakeholders in the town on this exciting project.
“Investing in the markets is something which we really believe will benefit the whole town, and will create a point of difference for visitors and shoppers.
“We want to work with the existing traders and complement what they are offering so the market can become a really popular attraction in the region.”
David Lodge, chairman of the Morpeth Town Team, said: “This is a great example of the public and private sector working together to the benefit of the local economy. Markets are hugely important to towns like Morpeth and developing a partnership approach to investing in and improving our markets is a completely new way of thinking. The new market will have 20 stalls which will be erected every week ready for the traders to set up .”
Deirdre Campbell, the county council’s policy board member for street care and environment, said the Morpeth initiative was part of a wider campaign to improve markets across Northumberland.