A government minister has visited the Covered Market in Oxford as it celebrates its 250th anniversary.

Kevin Hollinrake, Minister for Business and Trade, visited the historic market on Wednesday.

The visit, which coincided with the Love Your Local Market campaign and the market’s anniversary, allowed landlords the city council to celebrate recent successes and discuss ongoing challenges facing independent retailers in the UK. 

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Mr Hollinrake said: “Having started my business journey on a market stall I was delighted to pay a visit to The Covered Market, a true success story, bringing new small businesses and rejuvenation to this important part of Oxford’s heritage.

Oxford Mail: Kevin Hollinrake visits the Covered Market“The small businesses I met are delivering community, jobs and economic growth to Oxford and I can’t wait to see the market continue to thrive and grow.” 

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The minister met Alex Hollingsworth, Cabinet Member for Business, Culture and Inclusive Economy, council officers and market traders to hear about work to keep the market a thriving and popular destination.  

The market, a Grade II-listed building, is home to over 50 independent traders and provides a bustling atmosphere for local shoppers and visitors.  

In 2021, the council adopted a new leasing strategy. This focuses on ensuring the right mix of businesses and spaces and emphasises attracting high-quality, specialist, locally owned or independent retailers. 

Last year council leaders approved almost £7m of investment to revitalise the historic market, launched a trial of later opening hours and recently completed major works to make Market Street more pedestrian and cycle-friendly to ensure the street and the market are a must-visit destination.      

Oxford Mail: Kevin Hollinrake visits the Covered MarketSince April 2023, footfall in the Covered Market has consistently exceeded 2022 and pre-pandemic levels.

The most recent three months saw over 150,000 more visitors compared to the same period in 2023. 

Mr Hollingsworth said: "The Covered Market is a vital part of Oxford's heritage and local economy. The recent investments and planned upgrades will ensure it remains a vibrant and resilient space for both traders and visitors for years to come. 

“It’s encouraging that the hard work of the market traders and the city council is being recognised and I hope Kevin Hollinrake MP enjoyed his visit to our thriving and popular market.”  

The Market Street pedestrianisation scheme was completed earlier this month.

New seating, plants, and cycle racks have been provided.

The alterations also include a reduction in the number of loading bays available, coupled with increased monitoring of parking rules, and rearrangement of the remaining bays to boost safety and use the existing space more efficiently.

Shoppers have enjoyed sitting outside in the sunshine following a visit to the market.

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About the author 

Andy is the Trade and Tourism reporter for the Oxford Mail and you can sign up to his newsletters for free here. 

He joined the team more than 20 years ago and he covers community news across Oxfordshire.

His Trade and Tourism newsletter is released every Saturday morning. 

You can also read his weekly Traffic and Transport newsletter.