The Covered Market is going from strength to strength with four new businesses announced in the last two months.
Family-run Italian business, Il Corno, opened its doors at the weekend and local bakery, Hamblin Bread, is scheduled to open the first of two market businesses in December. They join the recently opened Crystal Spirit Emporium and OxUnBoxed which both joined the market last month.
In addition to this, two existing shops, A Woollen Cosy Life and The Woolhound, have moved to larger units within the market.
The Council is working hard to ensure the market can continuously adapt to changing shopping habits. In 2021, a new Leasing Strategy was adopted to help do this. The strategy focuses on making sure there is the right mix of businesses and spaces available in the market and puts a focus on attracting high-quality specialist, locally owned or independent retailers. It was also a key consideration in the Council’s decision to trial extended opening hours, enabling businesses to take advantage of up to 11pm closes.
With the four new traders and internal moves, the market’s overall mix of uses offers the widest-ever selection of specialist artisan produce, cafés, bars, gifts, experiences, fashion, and lifestyle products.
Il Corno is a family run business named after the famous Neapolitan amulet worn to bring good luck.
They are an experiential food and beverage business, introducing new dining and aperitif concepts to Oxford by offering traditional Neapolitan food, drinks and atmosphere.
Hamblin Kiosk and Hamblin Snack bar
Hamblin Bread are already an established bakery on Iffley Road. They specialise in baked goods made with stone ground flour from organic wheat and rye, all grown within fifty miles of the bakery.
Hamblin Bread will open its second shop in the market, taking on three units that were recently restored by Oxford City Council in partnership with Oxford Preservation Trust. The units will house Hamblin Kiosk and Snack Bar.
The kiosk will offer a range of bread, buns, and pastries, and is expected to open in December.
The snack bar, which is scheduled for January, will offer a selection of sandwiches using a mixture of bread from the Iffley Road bakery and their newly developed artisan sandwich bread, which will be made on site.
OxUnBoxed is a vegan refill store, with a focus on reducing single plastic waste. Founded by students over a decade ago, they started with pop-up stores, before deciding to put down more permanent roots.
OXUnBoxed thought that the Covered Market, with its focus on local produce and shopping, was the perfect place.
Crystal Spirit Emporium
Crystal Spirit Emporium is an independent family-run, small business. They offer an extensive range of crystals and fossils, as well as other household items such as incense, sage, candles, and dream catchers.
The Covered Market regeneration
Earlier this year, The City Council approved almost £7m of investment to revitalise the historic market and launched a trial of later opening hours.
A trial of changes to Market Street is expected next year. This will help the Council understand how any regeneration may encourage more people to visit the market and the city centre.
2024 will also mark the 250th anniversary of The Covered Market opening in the way we know it today. The City Council, which owns and operates the market, has exciting plans throughout the year to mark the milestone.
"The Covered Market has been at the heart of the city for almost 250 years and I’m so pleased that it continues to inspire and attract new businesses.
“Bringing a bakery back to the market is something both locals and the council have wanted to do for a while now, so I am incredibly pleased that Hamblin Bread will join the market’s wonderful array of businesses.
“We work hard to protect the market's unique charm and history while ensuring it stays relevant and inviting for new generations and I’m excited to see the next chapter in its story.”
Councillor Susan Brown, Leader of Oxford City Council and Cabinet Member for Inclusive Economy and Partnerships