Covered Market rents 'are unfair to traders'

thisisoxfordshire: Tim Gresswell outside his shop in High Street. Picture: OX55066 Ed Nix Buy this photo » Tim Gresswell outside his shop in High Street. Picture: OX55066 Ed Nix

AS traders at Oxford’s Covered Market count the cost of soaring rents, one shopkeeper is well placed to judge whether they are getting a fair deal.

Newsagent Tim Gresswell has a shop in the market and on Oxford’s High Street.

The city council says it uses high street rents as a comparator when reviewing rents in the market. But Mr Gresswell says his figures show that traders in the market are being treated more harshly than necessary by the city council when footfall, turnover and percentage rent rises are taken into account.

Earlier this week, it emerged that 10 out of 58 businesses in the historic market, roughly one in six, are looking to sell up.

Traders are blaming a proposed rent rise of between about 40 per cent and 70 per cent, and competition from the Internet, for the unprecedented number of firms trying to leave at the same time.

Mr Gresswell, 57, who runs Market News, in the market, and Tim’s Newsagents, in High Street, says he gets a better rent deal at his High Street shop.

He added: “It’s simply not right for the council to say they are using high street rents as comparators for the rent review and, if they are, then their figures are wrong.

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“If the council is claiming it is using high street stores as a comparator then the rent increase for my store in the market should be between five and 10 per cent.

“I started running Market News in 1987 and I’m probably taking slightly less now than I did when the shop first opened.

“There is less and less footfall in the Covered Market and the council should put up more signs to direct people to the market, particularly in Cornmarket.

“It’s worrying that so many traders are trying to leave at the same time.”

Mr Gresswell added that he ran a second business in the market called Bolitas, which sells Brazilian-style cheeseballs.

“The council is proposing a rent increase of 101.6 per cent for Bolitas, which is huge,” he added.

“If that goes ahead, it will take the rent from £2,975 a year to £6,000.”

The counci’s executive member for city development, Colin Cook, said: “There’s still room for negotiation over rent increases and the level of increase could come down during negotiations. If traders aren’t happy with the increase, there’s an opportunity to go to an arbitrator.”

Macsamillion, which opened its first of three stores in the Covered Market in the 1970s, is closing the Oxford Boot Store, citing high rents and online competition as key factors.

The shop, which faces a 40 per cent rent increase, will continue to trade until the lease is sold.

Rent increase

TIM Gresswell pays £5,835 a year in rent for the Covered Market shop.

If a 35 per cent increase goes ahead in the current rent review, he will pay £7,900 for the 108sq ft shop for the next five years – or £73 per square foot.

At Tim’s Newsagent, landlord Lincoln College has agreed a six per cent increase for the next five years, taking the rent from £30,000 to £32,000 for the 250sq ft store – or £128 per square foot.

But Mr Gresswell says Tim’s Newsagent gets three times the turnover and 10 times the number of passers-by.

Comments (18)

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8:13pm Sat 20 Oct 12

Danny A says...

Even a 6% increase is unjustified in current economic climate. Where on else could you get a guaranteed 6% return for doing absolutely nothing other than hold the deeds for a plot of land? All the talk from politicos of helping "hard working people". As far as I can see we are encouraged to do anything other than work for a income, we are truly living in a rentier state.
Even a 6% increase is unjustified in current economic climate. Where on else could you get a guaranteed 6% return for doing absolutely nothing other than hold the deeds for a plot of land? All the talk from politicos of helping "hard working people". As far as I can see we are encouraged to do anything other than work for a income, we are truly living in a rentier state. Danny A

8:29pm Sat 20 Oct 12

Andrew:Oxford says...

By operating both newsagents Mr Gresswell has an effective monopoly on the newsagent trade in the immediate vicinity and can make all supplies using one van, perhaps even servicing from the market street traders spaces.

He could dispose of the market newsagent outlet saving himself £104 a week in rent as well as other running costs and business rates - but would also lose the contribution the business makes and effectively increase the running cost of Tims.

If business were easy, we'd all be doing it.
By operating both newsagents Mr Gresswell has an effective monopoly on the newsagent trade in the immediate vicinity and can make all supplies using one van, perhaps even servicing from the market street traders spaces. He could dispose of the market newsagent outlet saving himself £104 a week in rent as well as other running costs and business rates - but would also lose the contribution the business makes and effectively increase the running cost of Tims. If business were easy, we'd all be doing it. Andrew:Oxford

10:02pm Sat 20 Oct 12

faatmaan says...

so it costs say £125 a week for the Bolitas, in the scheme of things for other retailers, especially day traders scattered around the county this is quite reasonable, its also about the real viability of business in markets ( including the High st) where there is a massive over supply of retailers at the moment, yes it is sad to lose retailers but in the real business world championed by the this government, it is survival of the fittest.
so it costs say £125 a week for the Bolitas, in the scheme of things for other retailers, especially day traders scattered around the county this is quite reasonable, its also about the real viability of business in markets ( including the High st) where there is a massive over supply of retailers at the moment, yes it is sad to lose retailers but in the real business world championed by the this government, it is survival of the fittest. faatmaan

1:54am Sun 21 Oct 12

Carfax Cabby says...

Is that all he pays Andrew £104 P/W, I thought it was nearer a grand a week the way the market traders are whinging. I pay more than double that to rent a cab, and since our last fare increase of a massive 15p a job fuel has risen 40%. At least the market traders can increase prices to a level that suits them, and covers costs, we are at the mercy of our customers and the council to decide our fares. What with that, and competition from both local and out of town mini-cabs, buses, and other dubious forms of transport, I would love the luxury of £104 a week rent, setting my own prices and customers coming to me, instead of driving around trying to find them, yes times are hard, but you have to stick at it and put the hours in. In business whinging is such a waste of (negative) energy. £104 a week I am still shocked (and jealous), most market traders must make a killing.
Is that all he pays Andrew £104 P/W, I thought it was nearer a grand a week the way the market traders are whinging. I pay more than double that to rent a cab, and since our last fare increase of a massive 15p a job fuel has risen 40%. At least the market traders can increase prices to a level that suits them, and covers costs, we are at the mercy of our customers and the council to decide our fares. What with that, and competition from both local and out of town mini-cabs, buses, and other dubious forms of transport, I would love the luxury of £104 a week rent, setting my own prices and customers coming to me, instead of driving around trying to find them, yes times are hard, but you have to stick at it and put the hours in. In business whinging is such a waste of (negative) energy. £104 a week I am still shocked (and jealous), most market traders must make a killing. Carfax Cabby

10:01am Sun 21 Oct 12

Quentin Walker says...

Carfax Cabby wrote:
Is that all he pays Andrew £104 P/W, I thought it was nearer a grand a week the way the market traders are whinging. I pay more than double that to rent a cab, and since our last fare increase of a massive 15p a job fuel has risen 40%. At least the market traders can increase prices to a level that suits them, and covers costs, we are at the mercy of our customers and the council to decide our fares. What with that, and competition from both local and out of town mini-cabs, buses, and other dubious forms of transport, I would love the luxury of £104 a week rent, setting my own prices and customers coming to me, instead of driving around trying to find them, yes times are hard, but you have to stick at it and put the hours in. In business whinging is such a waste of (negative) energy. £104 a week I am still shocked (and jealous), most market traders must make a killing.
What do you mean, rent a cab? I thought taxi licences were issued by the city council?

Is there some sub-letting going on? If there is, it's not right and no wonder taxi fares are high.
[quote][p][bold]Carfax Cabby[/bold] wrote: Is that all he pays Andrew £104 P/W, I thought it was nearer a grand a week the way the market traders are whinging. I pay more than double that to rent a cab, and since our last fare increase of a massive 15p a job fuel has risen 40%. At least the market traders can increase prices to a level that suits them, and covers costs, we are at the mercy of our customers and the council to decide our fares. What with that, and competition from both local and out of town mini-cabs, buses, and other dubious forms of transport, I would love the luxury of £104 a week rent, setting my own prices and customers coming to me, instead of driving around trying to find them, yes times are hard, but you have to stick at it and put the hours in. In business whinging is such a waste of (negative) energy. £104 a week I am still shocked (and jealous), most market traders must make a killing.[/p][/quote]What do you mean, rent a cab? I thought taxi licences were issued by the city council? Is there some sub-letting going on? If there is, it's not right and no wonder taxi fares are high. Quentin Walker

2:00pm Sun 21 Oct 12

davyboy says...

Quentin Walker wrote:
Carfax Cabby wrote:
Is that all he pays Andrew £104 P/W, I thought it was nearer a grand a week the way the market traders are whinging. I pay more than double that to rent a cab, and since our last fare increase of a massive 15p a job fuel has risen 40%. At least the market traders can increase prices to a level that suits them, and covers costs, we are at the mercy of our customers and the council to decide our fares. What with that, and competition from both local and out of town mini-cabs, buses, and other dubious forms of transport, I would love the luxury of £104 a week rent, setting my own prices and customers coming to me, instead of driving around trying to find them, yes times are hard, but you have to stick at it and put the hours in. In business whinging is such a waste of (negative) energy. £104 a week I am still shocked (and jealous), most market traders must make a killing.
What do you mean, rent a cab? I thought taxi licences were issued by the city council?

Is there some sub-letting going on? If there is, it's not right and no wonder taxi fares are high.
drivers 'rent' cabs off the owners, who own the plates. this allows the vehicle to be out 24/7. some just have other family members driving them, but that does not provide as good an income as renting it out. this may explain why some cabbies don't know where they are going!!
[quote][p][bold]Quentin Walker[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Carfax Cabby[/bold] wrote: Is that all he pays Andrew £104 P/W, I thought it was nearer a grand a week the way the market traders are whinging. I pay more than double that to rent a cab, and since our last fare increase of a massive 15p a job fuel has risen 40%. At least the market traders can increase prices to a level that suits them, and covers costs, we are at the mercy of our customers and the council to decide our fares. What with that, and competition from both local and out of town mini-cabs, buses, and other dubious forms of transport, I would love the luxury of £104 a week rent, setting my own prices and customers coming to me, instead of driving around trying to find them, yes times are hard, but you have to stick at it and put the hours in. In business whinging is such a waste of (negative) energy. £104 a week I am still shocked (and jealous), most market traders must make a killing.[/p][/quote]What do you mean, rent a cab? I thought taxi licences were issued by the city council? Is there some sub-letting going on? If there is, it's not right and no wonder taxi fares are high.[/p][/quote]drivers 'rent' cabs off the owners, who own the plates. this allows the vehicle to be out 24/7. some just have other family members driving them, but that does not provide as good an income as renting it out. this may explain why some cabbies don't know where they are going!! davyboy

4:53pm Sun 21 Oct 12

King Joke says...

I'm not saying driving a cab is easy, of course not, but when you pick up a fare you turn over £5-£10.

The newsagent may only be paying £104 pw, but every time he sells a paper he is turning over 80p, a stick of chewing gum or a mars bar 50p, and so on. I've no idea what the margins are on these but I imagine they are not much to write home about. You have to flog a lot of these little bits to cover £104 plus wages and all the other overhead.

It isn't easy for anyone out there I appreciate that.

One thing I will say is this: as well as looking at the bottom line (trying to minimise rent increases) traders should also look at the top line (trying to get more people into the Market in the first place). So when arguing with the toss with the City they should be asking for more for their money, like better promotion by the City, rather than just lower increases. THe Market is poorly promoted and if the traders are going to pay through the nose they should at least get better service off the City.
I'm not saying driving a cab is easy, of course not, but when you pick up a fare you turn over £5-£10. The newsagent may only be paying £104 pw, but every time he sells a paper he is turning over 80p, a stick of chewing gum or a mars bar 50p, and so on. I've no idea what the margins are on these but I imagine they are not much to write home about. You have to flog a lot of these little bits to cover £104 plus wages and all the other overhead. It isn't easy for anyone out there I appreciate that. One thing I will say is this: as well as looking at the bottom line (trying to minimise rent increases) traders should also look at the top line (trying to get more people into the Market in the first place). So when arguing with the toss with the City they should be asking for more for their money, like better promotion by the City, rather than just lower increases. THe Market is poorly promoted and if the traders are going to pay through the nose they should at least get better service off the City. King Joke

6:03pm Sun 21 Oct 12

EMBOX1 says...

The market is shabby and the council have spent virtually nothing on it for years - toilets aside.

It is time that businesses got a council which wants them to succeed - Oxford City Council have proven themselves to be anti-business time after time.

Next election, GET RID OF THEM.
The market is shabby and the council have spent virtually nothing on it for years - toilets aside. It is time that businesses got a council which wants them to succeed - Oxford City Council have proven themselves to be anti-business time after time. Next election, GET RID OF THEM. EMBOX1

7:38pm Sun 21 Oct 12

Carfax Cabby says...

What do you mean, rent a cab? I thought taxi licences were issued by the city council?

Is there some sub-letting going on? If there is, it's not right and no wonder taxi fares are high.

Quentin you can either go 50% commission, pay X amount per mile or pay a set rent for your 12 hour shift to the owner of a cab, if it did not work that way there would only be cab owner drivers and no drivers, and cabs off the road for half the time. As regard to fares are you saying that £3,65 from the station to The Randolph is expensive, or £3,25 to the malmaison, especially when you wait an average of an hour, out of peak times on the station for a job, work out the hourly rate on that one at 50% commission. If you read the trade paper you can see the figures, and on a 5 mile journey our fare are some of the cheapest in the UK, in fact on Tariff 2 our running mile is equal bottom out of all 374 licensing areas in the UK with Hartlepool council, and nearly less than a third of that of west oxford and vale of white horse councils who set the running mile at £3,15 as opposed to ours at £1,20. So i suggest you do not complain too loudly about fares in Oxford because you will get a shock if we come into line with our neighbours I.E. a nightime journey from wolvecote to Barton would go from about £12 to £17 and if you carried on to The Leys after that it would total £16 Oxford council rate as opposed to £27 vale and west Oxford rate. If you would like to verify that you can pick up a copy of PHV and Taxi monthly from the council offices free of charge.
What do you mean, rent a cab? I thought taxi licences were issued by the city council? Is there some sub-letting going on? If there is, it's not right and no wonder taxi fares are high. Quentin you can either go 50% commission, pay X amount per mile or pay a set rent for your 12 hour shift to the owner of a cab, if it did not work that way there would only be cab owner drivers and no drivers, and cabs off the road for half the time. As regard to fares are you saying that £3,65 from the station to The Randolph is expensive, or £3,25 to the malmaison, especially when you wait an average of an hour, out of peak times on the station for a job, work out the hourly rate on that one at 50% commission. If you read the trade paper you can see the figures, and on a 5 mile journey our fare are some of the cheapest in the UK, in fact on Tariff 2 our running mile is equal bottom out of all 374 licensing areas in the UK with Hartlepool council, and nearly less than a third of that of west oxford and vale of white horse councils who set the running mile at £3,15 as opposed to ours at £1,20. So i suggest you do not complain too loudly about fares in Oxford because you will get a shock if we come into line with our neighbours I.E. a nightime journey from wolvecote to Barton would go from about £12 to £17 and if you carried on to The Leys after that it would total £16 Oxford council rate as opposed to £27 vale and west Oxford rate. If you would like to verify that you can pick up a copy of PHV and Taxi monthly from the council offices free of charge. Carfax Cabby

8:33pm Sun 21 Oct 12

Marina Morris says...

"Earlier this week, it emerged that 10 out of 58 businesses in the historic market, roughly one in six, are looking to sell up. "

Thanks for that, we could never have worked that out ourselves!
"Earlier this week, it emerged that 10 out of 58 businesses in the historic market, roughly one in six, are looking to sell up. " Thanks for that, we could never have worked that out ourselves! Marina Morris

10:23pm Sun 21 Oct 12

Geoff Roberts says...

EMBOX1 wrote:
The market is shabby and the council have spent virtually nothing on it for years - toilets aside.

It is time that businesses got a council which wants them to succeed - Oxford City Council have proven themselves to be anti-business time after time.

Next election, GET RID OF THEM.
I don't think the council are anti business. They are anti small business!

We have plenty of big business doing well and of course, property developers. It's the small businesses run by people that suffer. It's what puts Labour in with Lib Dems and Conservatives. The reason why Ed Miliband says what he does: Big business. It needs to consume the customers of small businesses and Oxford City Council helps facilitate this. So would a Lib Dem or Tory run council.
[quote][p][bold]EMBOX1[/bold] wrote: The market is shabby and the council have spent virtually nothing on it for years - toilets aside. It is time that businesses got a council which wants them to succeed - Oxford City Council have proven themselves to be anti-business time after time. Next election, GET RID OF THEM.[/p][/quote]I don't think the council are anti business. They are anti small business! We have plenty of big business doing well and of course, property developers. It's the small businesses run by people that suffer. It's what puts Labour in with Lib Dems and Conservatives. The reason why Ed Miliband says what he does: Big business. It needs to consume the customers of small businesses and Oxford City Council helps facilitate this. So would a Lib Dem or Tory run council. Geoff Roberts

10:25pm Sun 21 Oct 12

Geoff Roberts says...

Lobbying, shares, lobbying, land and so on, it's what runs government, not people. Small businesses are more like people than big corporates.
Lobbying, shares, lobbying, land and so on, it's what runs government, not people. Small businesses are more like people than big corporates. Geoff Roberts

10:45pm Sun 21 Oct 12

Andrew:Oxford says...

King Joke wrote:
I'm not saying driving a cab is easy, of course not, but when you pick up a fare you turn over £5-£10.

The newsagent may only be paying £104 pw, but every time he sells a paper he is turning over 80p, a stick of chewing gum or a mars bar 50p, and so on. I've no idea what the margins are on these but I imagine they are not much to write home about. You have to flog a lot of these little bits to cover £104 plus wages and all the other overhead.

It isn't easy for anyone out there I appreciate that.

One thing I will say is this: as well as looking at the bottom line (trying to minimise rent increases) traders should also look at the top line (trying to get more people into the Market in the first place). So when arguing with the toss with the City they should be asking for more for their money, like better promotion by the City, rather than just lower increases. THe Market is poorly promoted and if the traders are going to pay through the nose they should at least get better service off the City.
Newspaper margins vary, it's around 24% on the Guardian, 22% on the Trinity Mirror group papers, 23% on News International, 22% for the Daily Telegraph.

For soft drinks, wholesale prices are 29p a can for CocaCola, 56p for a 500ml bottle of CocaCola, 42p for a 500ml bottle of 7-up, 98p for a can of Red Bull, 24p for a 500ml bottle of Evian, 16p for 500ml Drench, 33p for 500ml Volvic Touch of Fruit.

Confectionary, wholesale price are 38p for a Yorkie, 36p for a chunky Kit-kat, 30p for fruit pastels.
[quote][p][bold]King Joke[/bold] wrote: I'm not saying driving a cab is easy, of course not, but when you pick up a fare you turn over £5-£10. The newsagent may only be paying £104 pw, but every time he sells a paper he is turning over 80p, a stick of chewing gum or a mars bar 50p, and so on. I've no idea what the margins are on these but I imagine they are not much to write home about. You have to flog a lot of these little bits to cover £104 plus wages and all the other overhead. It isn't easy for anyone out there I appreciate that. One thing I will say is this: as well as looking at the bottom line (trying to minimise rent increases) traders should also look at the top line (trying to get more people into the Market in the first place). So when arguing with the toss with the City they should be asking for more for their money, like better promotion by the City, rather than just lower increases. THe Market is poorly promoted and if the traders are going to pay through the nose they should at least get better service off the City.[/p][/quote]Newspaper margins vary, it's around 24% on the Guardian, 22% on the Trinity Mirror group papers, 23% on News International, 22% for the Daily Telegraph. For soft drinks, wholesale prices are 29p a can for CocaCola, 56p for a 500ml bottle of CocaCola, 42p for a 500ml bottle of 7-up, 98p for a can of Red Bull, 24p for a 500ml bottle of Evian, 16p for 500ml Drench, 33p for 500ml Volvic Touch of Fruit. Confectionary, wholesale price are 38p for a Yorkie, 36p for a chunky Kit-kat, 30p for fruit pastels. Andrew:Oxford

6:31am Mon 22 Oct 12

King Joke says...

So if these items retail at ca 50p, that's only 10-20p gross margin for each one. You'd have to sell up to 1,000 a week just to cover rent.
So if these items retail at ca 50p, that's only 10-20p gross margin for each one. You'd have to sell up to 1,000 a week just to cover rent. King Joke

3:18pm Mon 22 Oct 12

Carfax Cabby says...

So Andrew his mark up on the drinks is well over 100% not bad work if you can get it, one days drink sales alone will more than cover the rent. When I am sat on High Street Rank outside his shop) I see a constant stream of customers in and out, it would be interesting to see his sales sheet.
So Andrew his mark up on the drinks is well over 100% not bad work if you can get it, one days drink sales alone will more than cover the rent. When I am sat on High Street Rank outside his shop) I see a constant stream of customers in and out, it would be interesting to see his sales sheet. Carfax Cabby

4:37pm Mon 22 Oct 12

mandate says...

A few years ago I had some friends from London visiting. They did the usual things, shopping and sightseeing in Oxford. When I asked them if they had been to the covered market, they said that they had not found it.
Even though Oxford is a very small city, it would perhaps be beneficial to the market traders if tourists were made more aware of the location of the covered market.
Personally, I feel that the market has both a traditional and a cutural diversity that makes it an interesting place to visit. Perhaps Oxford City Council could do more to promote it. This would then justify the proposed rent increases.
A few years ago I had some friends from London visiting. They did the usual things, shopping and sightseeing in Oxford. When I asked them if they had been to the covered market, they said that they had not found it. Even though Oxford is a very small city, it would perhaps be beneficial to the market traders if tourists were made more aware of the location of the covered market. Personally, I feel that the market has both a traditional and a cutural diversity that makes it an interesting place to visit. Perhaps Oxford City Council could do more to promote it. This would then justify the proposed rent increases. mandate

5:45pm Mon 22 Oct 12

King Joke says...

Spot on, Mandate. THe only sign to the Market on Oxford's main shopping street says 'The Golden Cross Shopping Centre'. No mention of the market whatsoever. What a 'king joke.

THe City really should pull its socks up.
Spot on, Mandate. THe only sign to the Market on Oxford's main shopping street says 'The Golden Cross Shopping Centre'. No mention of the market whatsoever. What a 'king joke. THe City really should pull its socks up. King Joke

5:57pm Mon 22 Oct 12

Carfax Cabby says...

Mr Mandate and King Joke. We cabbies pay the council over a million pounds every year in fees and various charges. And for that we do even get a sign saying TAXI RANK, let alone free advertising. If we wish to advertise ourselves then we pay for it out of our own pocket, why should market traders be any different?
Mr Mandate and King Joke. We cabbies pay the council over a million pounds every year in fees and various charges. And for that we do even get a sign saying TAXI RANK, let alone free advertising. If we wish to advertise ourselves then we pay for it out of our own pocket, why should market traders be any different? Carfax Cabby

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