Jersey traders concerned about market future after 'surprising' change to lease

Traders at Central Market in Jersey say they are 'surprised' after their landlord offered only a short lease extension.

Many business owners have operated there for decades and have got accustomed to nine-year contracts. The current contracts were up for renewal next month.

On Monday (7 November) all tenants received an email or letter offering a 12-month extension and laying out a plan to revitalise the whole site over the next few years.

This came as a surprise to many traders, including Chantal Gosselin who has only been in her shop for three weeks: "To share what they're thinking would allay a lot of fears for people.

"Because let's face it, we all want healthy businesses from every aspect. Consumers want to come into a fantastic vibrant market, they all love it here.

"So, change is always difficult and I think it's really really important for the people who are pushing the change to communicate it clearly."

Chantal Gosselin opened her store in the market three weeks ago Credit: Channel TV

The Central and Beresford Street Markets, which are owned by the Government of Jersey, have a new landlord.

Infrastructure Minister, Deputy Tom Binet, took over the role four months ago.

Earlier this year, his predecessor carried out a survey with the tenants, asking them what could be improved about the site.

Deputy Binet says it is now his job to examine the results of the survey and make any changes.

He believes regenerating the market is the answer: "The fabric of the building is very nice. But the internals are tired in many places.

"The floors have got trenches of concrete for example. It's not as inviting as it might be. It requires some investment.

"I will properly communicate any changes with the tenants, I can guarantee them of that."

Deputy Tom Binet says he will work with traders to revitalise the market Credit: Channel TV

ITV Channel spoke to many tenants at Central Market today (9 November) who expressed confusion about the late notice of the lease agreement and the fact that someone with "very little" retail experience had become landlord.

In response to those concerns, Mr Binet said: "My email is available, my phone number is available if anybody has any concerns, just give me a call.

"In an ideal world we would have gone around people individually before sending the leases out but we haven't had time to do that.

"We needed to get them leases so they have certainly for the next 12 months.

Many business owners were surprised at the lease change Credit: Channel TV

Both tenants and customers at the market did agree that upgrading it is needed. One said that opening for the whole day on Thursday would be good, as well as in the evenings.

Another said alfresco dining and even more food spots would draw in extra customers.

Deputy Binet assures tenants that he will consult with them before any changes are enforced.