Three new shops – a fishmonger, micropub and sports store – are opening in Oxford Covered Market.
The new openings mean that 92.1% of the units in the 18th century market, which is operated by Oxford City Council, are currently occupied.
The new traders are:
- A new fishmonger will open in the Covered Market in mid-February
- Blue Blood Sports, a sportswear and sports equipment store founded by three former employees of Elmer Cotton, opened on Saturday 26 January. Elmer Cotton was one of the UK’s oldest sports shops and operated in Turl Street from 1911 until its closure in December
- Teardrop, a micropub from West Oxfordshire-based and family-run Church Hanbrewery selling bottled and draught beer, opened before Christmas
The fishmonger and Teardrop occupy the former Haymans unit, which the City Council split into three units to meet the needs of the new tenants. Blue Blood Sports has opened in the former Macsamillion unit.
Meanwhile, two pop-up shops have also opened in the market until Easter:
- The owners of iScream will open a shop selling Wicked Chocolate in the former Foot Foundation unit. The shop opened on Friday 1 February
- The owners of The Garden have reopened a seasonal pop-up store in the former Hedges Butchers unit. The shop opened on 7 January
The new units follow the opening, in the run-up to Christmas, of:
- Oxford Soap Company, a local independent company offering hand-made cosmetics, opened on 13 November
- Fedele of Oxford, an Oxford-based business opening its first store and offering high-quality leather goods, opened on 29 November
Both traders opened in the former Helen & Douglas House unit, which Oxford City Council split to meet the needs of the businesses.
There are currently five vacant units in the Covered Market:
- The former Market News unit, and one third of the former Hayman’s unit: The City Council is in discussion with prospective tenants, who cannot be named at this stage, about opening in these units
- The former Dragon’s Den unit: The City Council is currently investigating the possibility of splitting the unit in two to meet current demand. A planning application could be submitted later this year
- The former McCarthy’s Fruit and Veg unit: The City Council received planning permission last year to split the unit into three kiosks. Work is expected to start later this year
- 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. Work is expected to start later this year
The new openings mean that 58 of the Covered Market’s 63 units are now occupied – 92.1%.
The number of units will increase to 65 once the work to the former McCarthy’s unit is complete, and could increase again to 66 following the work to the former Dragon’s Den unit.
Meanwhile, the majority of existing traders have now signed new long-term leases – the majority of which were for 15 years – to continue trading in the Covered Market, and footfall across the market is up by an average of 5% since 2012.
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, decorations and new flooring.
The public realm around the Market Street entrance to the Covered Market could also see significant improvements in the coming years, in particular with Jesus College’s redevelopment plans for Northgate House.
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.
Councillor Mary Clarkson, Executive Board Member for Culture and City Centre, said: “There is a real buzz to the Covered Market at the moment – new traders are opening, footfall is up and the majority of traders have signed long-term leases. Over the coming months and years we will continue to split units in the market with the aim of creating a real hub of micro-stores offering the very best of local crafts, food and drink.”