Hello again and welcome to a celebration of the award-winning St. George's Market in Belfast City centre - the last surviving Victorian covered-market in Northern Ireland.
One of my first contracts when I established my retail consultancy, was to deliver a strategic review of St. George's Market for Belfast City Council. This was a mammoth project in which I was fortunate to have a wonderful partner, Colin, in Deloitte, who guided and supported me through my in-depth research of comparator markets across the UK. We were committed and dedicated, and we sought to provide the best possible strategic vision for what became to me, 'Gorgeous George's'.
We spent many months in close consultation with the passionate traders of St. George's. Indeed, as the newly self-employed mother of a young baby, I often got warm milk from the coffee stalls for the baby's bottle as he came with me to traders' meetings in the Market.
It was a special time for me as I also grew up in the bustling environs of a vibrant city market, Dublin Corporation Market, and it was very important to me that my child would also share this heritage in his own native city.
In November 2015, I was delighted to once again be appointed to provide specialist retail design support to St. George's Market. My events partner, Eventful, and I were chosen to design and deliver the inaugural Twilight Market - the first ever night-time market specialising in the best of local food & crafts. With around 20,000 visitors, the Twilight was a resounding success, and when Eventful and I were asked to be the partners for the 2 day Summer Twilight in May 2016, we were over the moon.
St. George's Market is a very special place with a long list of accolades. It was named the UK's Best Large Indoor Market 2014 by the National Association of British Market Authorities, beating off stiff competition from internationally renowned markets like Spitalfields, Billingsgate and Borough. St George’s was also voted the nation’s favourite Heritage project in the 2014 National Lottery Awards. And the really great news was that in 2016, St. George's won at least two of the most acclaimed industry awards - The Tourism NI Award for Innovation and the Observer Food Monthly Award for Best UK Market 2016.
So what next? Well, I am thrilled to tell you that once again, Eventful and I are in the midst of planning the next Twilight! The November theme for the NI year of food 2016 was "Legacy and Learn to“, so with the much-anticipated 2018 Twilight Evening Market opening its doors this November, I am fully immersed in creating magical seating areas that celebrate the market's rich Victorian legacy and heritage.
So please mark it in your diary to come to St. George's Twilight Market this November - with more than 200 specialty food and craft artisans set in an awesome setting, we promise you a magical event to remember!
Oh, and please do look out for me at the Market! Always willing to chat about Creating some Retail Magic for you and your business!