‘We can find space for market traders’ says St Johns

St Johns Shopping Centre in Liverpool offers lifeline to traders left locked out of the St Johns Market hall by the city council in a £1.7m rent dispute. Tony McDonough reports

St Johns shopping centre
St Johns shopping centre in Liverpool. Picture by Tony McDonough


St Johns Shopping Centre has offered to find space for the market traders left locked out of their market hall this week.

On Monday morning Liverpool City Council closed down the 200-year-old St Johns Market with “immediate effect” due to £1.7m in unpaid rent and service charges.

It means the tenancies of the 43 traders will cease. The authority said there had been a “lengthy period of communication” with the traders over the unpaid rents which date back to August 2020.

However, the traders dispute the authority’s version of events and are threatening legal action. They are being represented by local law firm MSB Solicitors. On social media the traders said they were “taking an immediate action against the council for an unlawful act and breach of covenants”.

The market hall is located within the St John’s Shopping Centre complex and is leased to the council. The retail centre is unaffected by the council’s move but bosses have now stepped forward to offer the traders a lifeline.

Centre director Neil Ashcroft said: “We were sorry to hear of the closure of the market given St Johns’ long association with it. We know it has been struggling for some time despite the council’s investment in recent years.

“We are open to trying to find suitable space within the scheme for displaced market traders and will be working closely with Liverpool City Council to explore alternative uses for the market hall.”

Neil also hailed the performance of the centre 100 retailers in the first few weeks of 2024. In the last few weeks Liverpool ONE has reported one of its best-ever starts to the year and now St Johns, which typically caters for the budget end of the retail market, is reporting strong sales figures.

It says store sales for February were 32% higher than the same month in 2023. And the centre beat national and regional footfall trends with total footfall in February ws up 5.3% against February 2023, which is ahead of the national average of 2.9%.

READ MORE: What stopped Cricket’s move to Liverpool ONE?

Car park usage has also increased – up 17% compared with 2023 figures. Neil added: “The first two months of the year have been really buoyant and we’ve seen increases against all the measures at the centre.

“There has been plenty of interest from retailers who want to come into the centre, with several new businesses taking units. 

“We have recently welcomed Seoul Plaza – a Korean supermarket, which is doing very well and attracting a wide demographic of shoppers, The Optical Shop and Caffe Nero.”

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