Oxford Covered Market is full.
In the run-up to Christmas, all 61 of the available units in the 18th century market – which is operated by Oxford City Council – will be occupied.
The new openings are:
- Rewind, a vintage clothing company that already has a unit in Reading’s market, will open on a trial basis until at least Christmas in the former Dragon’s Den unit
- Changos, selling South American empanadas, will open for six months in the former Baker Boys unit
- The Garden has opened a pop-up store until Christmas in the former Hedges Butchers’ unit, selling Christmas trees, wreathes, garlands, and decorations
- Wicked Chocolate has opened a pop-up store until Easter in the former Macsamillion unit, selling artisan chocolate and Christmas gifts
The Garden and Wicked Chocolate opened on Friday (1/11); Rewind and Changos will open this month (November).
On top of this, the Covered Market’s Christmas lights and Christmas tree will go up from Sunday 10 November. The lights will be switched on as part of the Christmas Light Festival on 15 November 2019.
Over the last year a series of new traders have opened in the Covered Market, including:
- Independent Oxford opened the Indie Oxford Market Place in September – a space filled with collections from independent and local businesses. The aim is to nurture and support businesses, so they can grow to hopefully take a stall in Gloucester Green or even the Covered Market in the future.
- Pershore Seafoods, a fishmonger, opened in April
- Blue Blood Sports, a sportswear and sports equipment store founded by three former employees of Elmer Cotton, opened in January
- Teardrop, a micropub from West Oxfordshire-based and family-run Church Hanbrewery selling bottled and draught beer, opened in December
- Oxford Soap Company, a local independent company offering hand-made cosmetics, opened in November
- Fedele Oxford, an Oxford-based business opening its first store and offering high-quality leather goods, opened in November.
Units under redevelopment
Two units are not currently being let because they are under redevelopment:
- The former Lindsey’s unit: The City Council is working with Oxford Preservation Trust to restore and preserve original and historic features within the unit. The work includes restoring the space back to the original three units
- The former McCarthy’s Fruit and Veg stall: The City Council received planning permission last year to split the unit into three kiosks. This project is on hold while the masterplan is carried out (see below)
There are currently 63 units in Oxford Covered Market. Once the work on the former Lindsey’s unit is complete there will be 65 units; if the former McCarthy’s unit is also split this could see the number of units increase to 67.
Investment in the market
Oxford City Council is investing £3.1m into the Covered Market, which is Grade II-listed, to secure its long-term future. The investment includes £1.8m to secure the roof for another 60 to 80 years, and £1.3m for internal refurbishment.
Part of the £1.3m of funding has been used over the last year to split vacant units to meet the needs of new traders. Pershore Seafoods, Teardrop, Oxford Soap Company and Fedele of Oxford have all opened in split units.
The City Council’s aspiration is to transform the Covered Market to improve the entrances and facades in Market Street, High Street and the Golden Cross; make more of the communal spaces in the market; improve the existing units to enable more flexible and shared uses; and improve the market’s servicing.
Covered Market Masterplan
The City Council is now looking at funding options and aims to produce the first iteration of the transformation proposals – known as a masterplan – by the end of 2020.
The wider goal is to create an Oxford Market Quarter of small, independent traders, including the Covered Market and the surrounding sections of Market Street, Turl Street, High Street and the Golden Cross.
The City Council has already been working closely with Jesus College on the £36m redevelopment of Northgate House. The City Council encouraged the college to reduce the size of the retail units in Cornmarket Street and Market Street within the development.
Oxford Covered Market, which first opened in November 1774, sells food, gifts, shoes, fashion, flowers and jewellery, and the market provides a unique showcase for the very best in local crafts, food and drink.
“I am delighted that Oxford Covered Market is full in the run-up to Christmas.
“There is a real buzz to the market at the moment, with dynamic new traders offering exciting wares and the City Council investing millions of pounds to secure the market’s future.
“If you haven’t visited the market for a while, you should pop in – and buy your Christmas presents or weekly food shop from Oxford’s local, independent traders.”
Councillor Mary Clarkson, Executive Board Member for Culture and City Centre