Friday, 8 February 2013

"Poor quality" xmas market under review

A FAIRGROUND operator will not be asked to continue Solihull’s Christmas Market over concerns about its “poor quality” offering.

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Danter's Attractions – which ran the market for the last three festive periods – had not boosted town centre footfall or given a a strong and big enough offer, council bosses said.

Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council will now work with businesses on an enhanced offer.

A council report said customers found gifts were an “area of concern and did not complement the Christmas offer that Solihull was looking to achieve”.

It said of 2012: “The general consensus appears to be that there needs to be more stalls, offering better quality products with an increased food and drink offering.”

A 2011 survey found people like the bar but the “stall offering was unattractive with the products expensive and of poor quality” and customer service “poor”.

A council report said stalls “dwindled” from 23 in 2010 to eight last year, including two food and drink.

It said a 2009 pilot was successful and boosted footfall on launch day by 10,000 with Danter’s then paying to run it for two years.

The council planned to grow the event each year and extend to it to town centre

But it said: “Over the duration of the three year contract weekly footfall figures in the twn centre have been maintained and not decreased.

“This may be apportioned to the challenges of the economic environment and spells of poor weather conditions as well as the type and quality of the offer contained within the market stalls.”

It said the “type and number of stalls have not improved” and the provider had not developed the market beyond its core business of providing for fairgrounds.

It said the firm had “limited” contacts with the crafts industry to improve the quality of gifts and cited these photographs. Danter’s has yet to respond to The Silhillian for comment.

Poor weather and uncertainty over how late to keep the market open contributed to problems, the report added.

And it said the council had “intervene” last year to because of “potential reputational risk” from the “poor” offer of eight stalls compared to a “promised” 16.

The council added children’s rides at weekends and speciality markets Thursday to Friday to run alongside the Christmas Market.

The council will work with Mell Square on Solihull BID business group on the next market.
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