By Melissa Keogh
The Adelaide Central Market has $22m worth of infrastructure upgrades in the pipeline over the next decade, as the 149-year-old food hub aims to retain its historic charm while preparing for the modern age.
The market, which is one of the largest undercover markets in the southern hemisphere, is gearing up for an overhaul which includes new air-conditioning, a renewal of the Gouger Street frontage, and stage two of a new waste and recycling centre.
The upgrades are part of the Adelaide Central Market Authority (ACMA’s) four-year Strategic Plan, which sets out a vision to make the city institution the best food and produce market in the world.
The Strategic Plan was formed through a number of initiatives raised by market traders during a six-month consultation process – the most extensive ever undertaken by current management.
The plan also suggests the potential for adjusted trading hours to meet customer expectations and this week the market’s traders are being surveyed to determine what opening hours would best suit their needs.
ACMA general manager Aaron Brumby told Brand SA News that an historic move to introduce Sunday trading is a possibility, as is longer trading on Saturdays.
He says adjusted trading hours could come into effect by the second half of 2018.
“The trading hours have been this way for nearly two decades and customer preferences are changing,” Aaron says.
“We are seeing a lot more people shop later into the evening and shopping on Sundays, so we need to review those hours with our traders … to see if there is something better we can do.
“We have nine million visitors a year and we’re still the number one tourist destination in SA, and we want that to continue and only improve.”
“The aim is for us, is to be the best produce market in the world.”
Aaron says the infrastructure upgrades would ensure that “behind the scenes facilities” such as toilets, lighting, communications systems, and heritage façades would “be in the best condition they can be and as contemporary as possible”.
However, retaining heritage and the market’s “grittiness” is also crucial, he says.
“The $22m we’re spending is more about customer comfort and changing things the customer can’t see,” Aaron says.
“The 2019/20 budget includes $2.5m to replace the air-conditioning and that will make a huge difference in summer … on a 40C day the market is normally 27C inside, but we’ll have it down to 20–21C.
“It will increase the shelf life of the produce.”
Recent infrastructure upgrades have included restoration of the façade at the Grote Street entrance, set to be completed in a fortnight.
“We have put the original lettering of Federal Hall back on the building,” Aaron says.
“The letters are one metre tall and set the building off beautifully.”
The ACMA is also hoping to activate the Grote and Gouger Street footpaths to create more activity and drive interest.
It also wants to feature more regional stallholders to showcase produce from areas including the Eyre Peninsula, Flinders Ranges, Clare Valley and Limestone Coast.
The market is currently home to the Kangaroo Island stall which allows consumers to sample and buy island produce, wine, spirits and other goods.
Stallholders will also be encouraged to “create theatre and demonstrate unique skills” to customers to liven the experience and build greater consumer-trader relationships.
“We can create a really good experience with tastings and have traders with a wealth of knowledge out the front of their shops spruiking their products and sharing with the consumer about what makes them so special,” Aaron says.
He says the need to improve the market’s offerings and facilities is down to increased competition from 70 new supermarkets that have been built or refurbished across Adelaide in the past 10 years.
“We sell about one million kilograms of fruit and veg every month, that’s what makes us the pantry for the CBD,” Aaron says.
“For us to continue to sell those sorts of volumes and be successful, everything needs to be as good as it can be.”
The Adelaide Central Market is currently full at 76 traders and a waiting list of 16 businesses.
More than 500 people are employed throughout the market, with the average trader tenure lasting 42 years.
Lolly shop Blackeby’s Sweets is the longest running business at 102 years, while Charlesworth Nuts is the longest running business by the same family at 84 years, followed by Lucia’s at 60 years.
“That’s what makes the market special, that’s why we have multi-generational families in the market,” Aaron says.
“We’re the oldest market in Australia in its original location, we’ve been in this spot since 1869.”
Aaron will leave his position at the ACMA in July, before taking on a new role at SA disability organisation Bedford Group.
Visit I Choose SA for Industry to learn more stories about key industry leaders, why they’ve chosen SA as a base and how the state is enabling them to succeed.