Wednesday 29 July 2015

Melbourne Music Week 2015

If QVMAC Trader Representatives have nightmares it is usually about Melbourne Music Week in 2014. The on-again, off-again event that finally ended up under our sheds caused significant disruption to traders and their trade. After the event, traders generally agreed that this sort of event was not compatible with market trading for a whole lot of reasons.

At a recent Council meeting proposals for Melbourne Music Week 2015 were discussed and organisers were very complimentary about last year’s event under the sheds. This year they are looking for a new venue but QVMAC Trader Representatives Secretary, Stephen McLennan, was concerned at the possibility of a revisit to QVM if plans fell through.

Trader Representatives drew up a motion which was presented to the QVMAC at last Thursday’s meeting. Essentially the motion said “traders feel strongly, following the 2014 experience of MMW, that QVM market sheds are not a suitable venue for this type of event and have documented their objection in case the City proposes to bring it back to QVM”.

We have now received confirmation through CEO, Jan Cochrane-Harry, that the city has found an alternative venue for Melbourne Music Week 2015. ......and Trader Representatives will sleep a little better as a result.

Have Your Say – click here.

Sunday 26 July 2015

Funny Shop Signs

Here is a collection of shop signs found on the internet this week. Send us yours, especially if found in the market.


And finally this sign next to a coffee shop tip jar - 
"Thanks a latte."

Herald Sun Cops Bricks and Bouquets

Ex trader Lance Dyer may have left our market but QVM is still in his thoughts as he wrote to us this week concerning a Herald Sun article on Melbourne’s best Sunday markets. -

Lance pointed out that the exhaustive list of Sunday markets did not include QVM. Dandenong and Caribbean Gardens markets were mentioned plus a whole lot of monthly markets but not QVM. South Melbourne Market also missed out but how QVM as one of the world’s premier markets could be excluded is an absolute travesty.

We are not sure if there is any connection, but a few days after that article the Herald Sun published an article in their travel section titled Seven Top Food Markets Around The World and QVM was number one on that list. -

So, should we forgive them Lance?

26/07/2015 21:19:18 Market list "Absolutely not !!! The  second list was again only talking about food, no mention of general merchandise  and what else the market has to offer. 
It might also be added that when concerned traders went to MCC it wasn't traders from the fruit,meat or deli sections, it was again general traders who seem to the heart of the Queen Victoria Market  in their mind . "
Good point and when Sunday trading was first suggested it was general merchandise that embraced and supported the concept with other areas of the market following reluctantly behind. And who embraces and serves the many hundreds of thousands of tourists each year who consider our market an important part of their Melbourne experience - general merchandise again. Thanks for your input - Ed.

13/08/2015 23:17:51 "No. It's not forgivable. How can they not mention QVM in 1 article as the best Sunday markets, but then have it listed as the one of the best markets in the world.
It doesn't make sense." Lance 
Thanks Lance - Ed.  

Latest Retail News – 26/7/2015

Latest Retail News – 26/7/2015
1. Station Street Markets in Perth’s Subiaco to close.
2. Amazon reports surprise profit and better sales.
3. ABC to scrap its 50 store network and move retail online.
4. Impersonal self checkouts in supermarkets creating customer backlash.
5. Retail employment sector boosted by international store arrivals.
6. Pessimists outnumber optimists as consumer sentiment declines.
7. Specialist chicken retailer, Lenards, expects to double store footprint.
8. Muffin Break opens its 200th Australian store.
9. Australia Post introduces new ShipIT system for retailers.
10. Fast food chain, Grill’d, questioned over low wages.
11. Papinelle to open new sleep and loungewear store in Melbourne.
12. Wine retailers dominate Online Retail Industry Awards.
13. Google introduces BUY buttons to its online offer.
14. Oroton has sold its stake in global fashion brand, Brooks Brothers.
15. Research suggests Australians increased snacking habit has potential for fresh vegetable retailers.


David Jones Food Plans – some might see DJ’s using QVM as inspiration for their new push into food as a compliment, and it certainly is (see article below). But maybe there is a touch of “beware of the iron hand in the velvet glove” here. QVM’s competitors are not shy about pinching our clientele and there is plenty of the “market” word in DJ’s dialogue.
Keeping ahead of the pack is no doubt high on everybody’s agenda and that won’t just be in the variety and quality of produce but also in the service we offer our customers. Things like customer comfort and extended trading hours are also key components of our competitiveness and will need careful attention.

Top End Makeover – there has been much discussion (and let’s be honest, angst) over this week’s announcement of a new food court component in the top end. The angst surrounds E shed specialty traders being moved to make way for the new food offer. Meetings were held with the F shed tenants last week and no doubt the prospect of a makeover was greeted positively. In hindsight, the first meeting probably should have been with the traders who were going to be displaced. Surprisingly, over 30 traders are likely to be affected. Recent trader moves seem to have been handled well by the intrepid negotiators, Russell Wheelhouse and Peter Shepheard, and we shouldn’t prejudge the outcome on this occasion. Individual negotiation to find a solution for each trader will be the aim.

On the question of whether this will be a success or not it will surprise no-one to learn that there are many different opinions. A retail recession brings with it many uncertainties and each new attempt to find a way through probably only has a 50% chance of succeeding. There is more to fix here than just appearance but creating a food court which will encourage customers to “linger longer” in the top end has potential and addressing the neglect of our F shed traders is most welcome. Warmer weather down the track should maximise the appeal. 

Nothing comes easy in retailing these days but some good management combined with proper consideration for displaced traders, and some overall trader goodwill, may just make this one work. 


Apologies for the mixed up metaphor in earlier editions of this article. It is an "iron hand in a velvet glove" - Ed.

David Jones Inspired By QVM In New Food Offer

An article in the Herald Sun this week focused on David Jones plans to upgrade its food offer and apparently the DJ’s chief executive is inspired by what he has seen at the Queen Victoria Market.

Back on 11th July we reported on DJ’s plans for food expansion - . In that article we questioned what impact the incessant competition for food buyers would have on QVM. QVM’s competition comes from more than DJ’s of course. The big two supermarkets, Coles and Woolworths, have been steadily upgrading their fresh food and deli offer with Woolworths reported this week to have the largest share of the deli business.

David Jones Food Hall
Woolworths South Africa Food
DJ’s current food hall at its flagship Bourke St. store is no slouch (see photo) and DJ’s parent company, Woolworths South Africa, also has credentials in food presentation (see other photo). Woolworths South Africa chief executive and David Jones chairman, Ian Moir, said “You cannot get better meat, better fish, better cheese than you can at Vic market.” “You’ve got quality produce being sold by people who are engaging and that’s something we need to recreate within our own food market.”

DJ’s plans include upgrading their current food offer, expanding the offer into other flagship stores, and possibly progressing to stand-alone food stores.

Enhancing The Top End

The north-west corner of the market, bordered by Peel St. Victoria St. and F Shed is to be given a makeover in a new plan presented to traders this week.

Sheds A and C have already been the subject of a makeover particularly on weekends with the introduction of some new specialty markets. These markets are seen as part of the "market of markets" concept aired in the renewal project and, although it is early days, existing traders have found some positives in the buzz they create.

The makeover will involve some changes in F shed and A shed with the top sector of F Shed becoming a secondary food court/eating precinct.  E shed through to the F shed lane way will be devoted to seating areas with the addition of some new food stalls on the north side of E shed.  Those new stalls will be drawn at least partly from existing market traders and will emphasise a drinks/dessert offer. The vacant shop at the top of F shed is to become a coffee facility complete with coffee roaster.

A shed will also undergo a transformation with Fruit & Vegetable traders moving from the North side of A shed over to vacant positions on the South side of A shed or the adjoining F&V aisles. This will leave an open area adjacent to the Victoria St. shops and the opportunity to enhance the presentation of specialty markets or community based activities in that area. Importantly it will remove the back-of-house activities (forklifts, pallets, waste) from the Victoria St./A shed Laneway and make this a safer and more attractive environment for customers.

These changes will be supported by bunting and other decorative elements around the sheds and along Peel St. to enhance the area and let customers know that something new is happening in the top end. Shop signage is to be updated and renewed and in F shed a fresh coat of paint and new lighting will enhance the appearance.

As with any major change at the market there will be some disruption for a group of traders. Those who currently operate on the north side of E shed will need to be relocated. Some of those traders where moved in the initial creation of seating areas and unfortunately are being asked to move again. Trader Representatives have impressed on management that considered consultation will be necessary to ensure that affected traders are given suitable options. We understand that those options could include activating areas like L shed that currently don’t trade on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

The top end makeover has only just been announced and there will be much detail to consider over coming weeks. We welcome your comments.

More Traders Will Get More Say Under New Structure

The Queen Victoria Market Advisory Committee is working on a new governance structure that will facilitate greater involvement for traders.

Trader Representatives and Management are examining the best way to set up groups and sub-committees that will allow traders to get more involved in the decision making process as we head into specific renewal projects. Traders may wish to get involved in discussions on issues relevant to their particular trading area whether it be specialty merchandise, dairy hall, meat & fish, fruit & veg, or takeaway food. Or they may wish to participate in sub committees that look at subjects that cut across a number of trading groups like car parking, trading hours, etc.

Whatever the final structure looks like it is expected that a greater range of interested traders will have the opportunity to participate, express their views, and help to determine the future of QVM.

Wednesday 22 July 2015

Set Up Your App is the traders website and it has good readership throughout the trader community. But we still get traders asking how to access the articles and information that are added each week. Here is a way of putting on your phone so that with one click you can read all the latest articles at a time that suits you - relaxing at home, travelling on public transport, or waiting in the bank queue to deposit the day's takings.

In four easy steps you can set up a logo on your iPhone (we assume it is similar for Android phones) and treat it just like an app.

STEP 1. Go to your web browser and key in . At the bottom of the screen you will see a small box with an up arrow. Touch on that box.

STEP 2. Again at the bottom of the screen is a rectangle with a + sign in the middle and the text "Add to Home Screen". Touch on that + sign.

STEP 3. On the next screen you will be asked to enter a name for your new logo. Type in "" or "Traders Website" - whatever you like. Then touch on the "Add" option at the top right of your screen.

STEP 4. There you have it. Your new App logo is on your phone's home screen ready for you to tap and read the latest on

Have Your Say - click here.

Tuesday 21 July 2015

Top End of QVM To Get Its Own Food Court

A makeover is to take place in the north-west corner of the market and a key ingredient will be enhancing the F shed food offer. E shed and F shed from the top walkway to Peel St. will become a secondary food court/eating precinct. Management have commenced discussions with traders who may be impacted by the makeover.

Details will include branding of the area, and identifying it as a go-to zone for hungry customers. We like the idea of providing another reason for customers to linger in the top end of the market.

The plan to rejuvenate the top end will also involve other measures in C shed and A shed and we expect to have more details after a Queen Victoria Market Advisory Committee meeting on Thursday.

Sunday 19 July 2015

Sick of Retailing? We Could Have Just The Job For You

Being a Queen Victoria Market trader can have its ups and downs. Like any career market traders are subject to burn out but the problem for many of us is that all we know is market trading. Well, we know of a job that involves a complete change in responsibilities but actually demands a skill that you use every trading day.

A key ingredient for this job involves “stakeholder engagement with market traders and customers”. What could be more perfect for an existing market trader? We engage with those groups every day and over a number of years it is fair to say that many of us have developed significant skills. The job also requires “Experience in delivering complex and high profile construction and renewal projects” and we admit that could be a bit of a problem for many traders. The job is Project Director QVM Renewal, reporting direct to the CoM Director of City Design and Projects, and we are guessing the salary could be attractive compared with most stall profits at QVM.

Before you think about applying, remember you might have to give up your stall – conflict of interest and all that. And there are some aspects that may not appeal to traders, like liaising with State Government officials. But just in case you are interested, this is the link to this high profile city position -

And remember, if you get the job of Project Director QVM Renewal, I want to be one of your first stakeholder engagements – I'd like to talk about the possibility of a permanent stall.

Good luck!

Latest Retail News – 19/7/2015

Latest Retail News – 19/7/2015
1. H&M to open Perth store.
2. Coles liquor business continues to struggle.
3. Global beauty chain, Sephora, to open second store in Sydney.
4. Australia ranked 11th most attractive destination for global retailers.
5. Aldi surprises by revealing profits and tax on Australian operations.
6. Fastway Couriers in NZ to trial delivery by drone.
7. Rakuten offers virtual fitting service online.
8. Target launches new concept to target smart home technology.
9. David Jones store sales up 6.4%.

Customer Says We Make Melbourne Better

Trader Mino from Just Leather Products received this wonderful compliment from one of his customers - 

"Thank you Mino for great services. Melbourne was great. People like you and your shop make it even better. Thank you. Cheers from West Australia. Jeremy and Gaye."

If this response is a guide, it would appear that Melbourne has a lot to thank traders for.

Have Your Say - click here.

Friday 17 July 2015

Councillors Comment On QVM Renewal

Tuesday’s Council Meeting involved a number of presentations about the QVM Renewal Master Plan (see previous articles) and of course Councillors responded. The audio of the meeting is available online but we have noted just some of the comments from Councillors below.

Cr. Mayne – “The detail will be important....this is a big picture Master Plan”. “Relocation and disruption I agree will be a vital issue. We will need to consider mechanisms, look at what’s been used around the world, mechanisms to provide some confidence that the city is dealing with traders in good faith and that we have your interests at heart and that we have incentives to maximise your outcomes so that we can build in protections if possible....and obviously have great transparency from traders showing if there is any loss they have suffered because of some form of relocation issue.”
“I am personally a little bit nervous about the 10 year time frame and would like to see more now.”

Cr. Wood – “We have put a lot of money into this already and we are putting a lot of brain power behind it. When we get to implementation, that is when the detail comes in.”
“Yes I think there will be issues. The team is heavily committed to working through those issues but I think what you are going to end up with is a market which builds on all the good things that the market currently serves this city for, through its tourism, through its regular shoppers.......and what you are going to get is an even better market at the end of it.”
“My ask from you traders is keep on making your viewpoints but work with us on this. Don’t see us as adversaries, we are people that live in the community as well.”
“We are going to invest some serious ratepayer dollars in making this the best market in the world.”

Cr Oke – “I am a long term resident and a long term attendee at the market.....I have a lot of good friends who are active on the Save QVM site.....and their viewpoints are very important to me and I guess that I would like to think, in the way I read the Master Plan, that their views have actually been interpreted and represented in the Master Plan.”

Lord Mayor Confused By Different Stakeholder Approaches

The Lord Mayor admitted he was a little confused by QVM stakeholder approaches at Tuesday nights Future Melbourne Committee meeting. Customer groups were concerned that QVM Renewal was going to destroy aspects of our market, the Lower Market group actually engaged a solicitor to make their point that they were being poorly treated, while PE & SL Traders said "bring it on - we are ready to evaluate the detail of renewal right nowLet's take a quick look at each of those approaches.

 The Friends of the Market group have maintained a long anti-renewal campaign. They have been described as very protective of traders and if the answer for traders lay just in protection then perhaps their role would be more relevant. However most traders understand that out future will rely on entrepreneurial solutions that make our market stronger. Becoming more relevant to our customers will require changes to how we do business and a comprehensive renewal program should provide the professional guidance needed to achieve success.

The Lower Market group of traders have engaged a solicitor to address their concerns and for many introducing the legal element has uncomfortable connotations. It is true that reaching a considered agreement may be more difficult when one party becomes more adversarial. But, for those of you who have read the groups rather long winded submission it has one clear positive. There is little doubt left about what concerns Dairy Hall traders. They may have just saved a lot of time and effort later on by making a clear statement about what their issues are, and what they are seeking.

The PE & SL Traders want to start evaluating renewal possibilities right now. They have asked for components of renewal to be identified for "early adoption". Their submission stated that retail recession was placing an intolerable burden on traders and that the Master Plan, while not strong on detail, has identified many areas that could be identified, evaluated, and even trialled right now with some moderate resourcing.

We have interesting times ahead of us. Councillors went to great pains to assure traders of their good intent for the market and their desire to consider the needs of traders at all stages. Cr. Mayne  raised the possibility of some form of compensation for traders who may be adversely impacted by individual projects. But one message is quite clear - Council are committed to the success of this project. They described it as "stoic determination to succeed". Success is what we are all seeking.

Wednesday 15 July 2015

New Trader Association Has A Say At Council Meeting

The newly formed QVM Lower Market Inc made a submission to City Council's Future Melbourne (Major Projects) Committee on Tuesday evening. QVM Lower Market Inc makes particular reference to issues impacting on the Dairy Hall. Following are the submission notes given to us by presenter Catherine Underhill.

Lord Mayor, and Councillors.
I am here to speak to the submission you received from Dominic Esposito on behalf of the Queen Victoria Market, Lower Market Proprietary Limited

First, the Carpark: In converting the car park to public space, the areaof the marketisdiminished. So… if the new car park is to be on the Munro site, will it be subject to the Queen Victoria Market land act. If not, what guarantees do we have that any car park will actually serve the market?

In a similar vein, what consideration is given to the future legal structure for the Munro site? Will the commercial portions of the develpment remain with the QVM? Will we end up with chainstores and a supermarket or be swamped by businesses identical to the current offer, thereby diminishing our viability.

The language around the plans for the Lower Market is wishy washy and vague, leaving the intendedoutcomes completely immune from scrutiny. Is this murk intentional, or is it a genuine reflection of the state of play? There are differences in language and purpose between the draft and the final plan, which begs these questions.

There is uncertainty about the future of H and I shed. Will they be an enclosed adjunct to the Dairy Hall? Will there be shops down the market side of Therry St., surrounding and hiding the market. Will the lower market still be a “one stop shop” including vegies, or will our magic triangle be destroyed?
The Lower Market Traders shouldbe included in planning at the formative stage. We should have funding for advice and representation to assist us to participate. And, we should have full access to the reports and documents that inform decisions.

A few years ago there was a plan to turn Deli Lane into a covered seating area. What has happened to it?Deli Lane will be crucial to the market during construction. Customers will need a place to retreat from the chaos on Therry Street. We need to re-activate that plan now to help minimise the impact of the Munro site work.

The Lower Market Traders are currently offered 5-year leases with no options. There is no question that the renewal will result in a downturn, yet there is no discussion of how to mitigate the effect on our business, or reward traders who continue to invest and work in this environment.
Furthermore, our rents have been raised significantly at a time when our businessesare most vulnerable. What extraordinary logic. The leasing arrangements should have been and should be negotiated in the context of this looming transition. Traders are here because they have made a lifestyle choice to be a part of a business they are proud of. This should be applauded and supported.

And finally, it should be of great concern to council that a significant number of traders are so distrustful of the renewal process that they have sought (and paid for) legal representation. There is a sense that the big end of town is gathering force, ready to push us aside to make way for development and a future they see and we don’t. If this is not the case, then you need to include us in the planning. We are the genuine interface with the public.

Have Your Say - click here

Tuesday 14 July 2015

Trader Representatives Make Submission To Council

Trader Representatives for PE & SL Traders made a submission today at the CoM Future Melbourne Committee (Major Projects) Meeting.
Councillors were formally considering approval of the QVM Renewal Master Plan including an Implementation Strategy commencing in early 2016. Trader representatives were keen to make a statement about the urgent need for detail and action in relation to market improvements.
Here is the online submission made to Council which was also presented verbally at the public meeting.

Submission To Future Melbourne (Major Projects) Committee

Agenda item 6.5 Queen Victoria Market Precinct Renewal Master Plan 14 July 2015

Dear Lord Mayor and Councillors

I am submitting on behalf of four Queen Victoria Market Advisory Committee Trader Representatives who represent PE and SL licence holders. PE and SL Traders operate in the Specialty (General Merchandise) area of the market and represent over half the total trader body. We are the "flexible" group of traders, those that set-up and pack-up each day, and we have specific issues.

We welcome the final stage of the Renewal Master Plan and we would like to particularly refer to Rob Adams key issue number 7 on the agenda which notes that traders expressed a strong desire for more detailed information about implementation. It further notes that a timeline of early 2016 was anticipated to consider The Implementation Strategy.

The term “strong desire” probably understates the feeling of traders. There is great uncertainty, concern and anxiety over the possible impact of a renewal. Throw in a retail recession and you will understand why traders are indeed keen to progress the improvement of QVM at the earliest opportunity. We don’t want to sound impatient but we are ready to go now.

We understand that proper planning cannot be rushed but the renewal process has identified many areas of market operation that perhaps could be identified, explored and even trialled immediately with energetic input and some additional, yet modest, resourcing. For licence holders that may include permanent stalls, new configurations, and possibly trading hours etc.

We are ready to saddle the horse, get on the bike, whatever it takes, to get the process started and we ask that consideration be given to early adoption measures for components of QVM Renewal. We urge Council to assist in this process and we will be making a similar request to QVM management at a Queen Victoria Market Advisory Committee meeting on 23rd July 2015.

Thank you,

Greg Smith
On behalf of QVMAC PE & SL Trader Representatives – Stephen McLennan, Kha Nguyen, Greg Smith and Ivano Guseli.

Saturday 11 July 2015

Chocolate and Wine - Two Unusual Retail Stories.

Two unusual retail news items caught our attention this week.
Chocolate Paintings - two Tasmanian artists are experimenting with chocolate art. They paint with various forms and colours of chocolate in their landscapes and use brush and pallet knife techniques. As one of the artists said - "If it doesn't work out you can just lick it off and start again." 
These two have background in cartoons and animation so if any of our QVM caricaturists start putting on weight we may be able to guess at the reason. We are watching you Ivano.

Customers Help Winemaker Buy Vineyard - this is a fascinating story. It has been described as crowd funding although it seems a little different to the common money-up-front crowd funding system. This West Australian winemaker wanted to buy a 50 acre vineyard and convert it to organic wines. He wrote to the customers on his mailing list and proposed that if they bought wine off him for a stated period of time he could get enough money together to put a deposit on the new winery. And that is what happened. He managed to raise a deposit of $15,000 in seven days. 

Have Your Say - click here.

Latest Retail News – 11/7/2015

Latest Retail News – 11/7/2015
1. Dunn & Bradstreet report lower expectations on price rises for next 3 months.
2. Guylian says it has expansion plans for chocolate cafes.
3. US retailer, American Apparel, expects store closures and job losses as it reels in costs.
4. H&M to open new store at Eastland, Ringwood.
5. The Strand launches in-centre photography competition to engage customers.
6. Australians are saving more, spending less.
7. Mountford Shoes sold to footwear business, The Munro family group.
8. Williams-Sonoma to open in Perth.
9. UK government announces relaxation of Sunday trading laws.
10. Aldi launches “True blue” campaign to feature its Australian produce content.

Small Business Festival Offers Comprehensive Support And Advice

Victoria’s Small business Festival kicks off at the end of July and runs through to the end of August. Events will be conducted at various regional centres with the Festival Hub operating out of Federation Square at the corner of Swanston and Flinders Streets.

Here is a small sample of events that may be of interest –
Boost your potential. Find out what advice, support and grants are available for businesses in Melbourne from Australia’s three tiers of government – federal, state and local – and what you need to do to access it. – Federation Square Friday 31st July.

It’s illegal to build a house without a plan… So why do so many business owners try to build a business without one? Internationally renowned business coach David Guest will give you a simple, seven step approach that will ensure you create a compelling plan that will keep you focussed on building your business and your success. - Tuesday 4 August 2015

Cash flow is the key trip-up for SMEs trying to get ahead. Avoid your business falling victim by following five fundamental strategies that will ensure cash flows smoothly. Tuesday 4th August 2015.

Fashion’s leading local innovators discuss their strategies for success in a panel brought together by the Council of Textile & Fashion Industries of Australia (TFIA). From branding to growth strategies, challenges and triumphs, learn from those who've done it before and how they grew into successful fashion businesses. Includes Q&A session. Federation Square - Tuesday 4 August 2015 Fee - $25

Here is the link to the full program of events -

New Saturday Market At QVM

One of the catch phrases of the renewal project is creating "a market of markets" at QVM. A special Saturday market under the title Love Your Local markets has popped up in A shed this week and it looks like becoming a monthly regular.

Here is the blurb from the QVM website - "Love Your Local markets are bringing a taste of regional Victoria to the city. With a large range of new and handmade stalls, you will find art, craft, amazing regional produce and great coffee. PLUS a craft station and animal farm for the kids. Join us each month to discover new and exciting stalls."

These photos were provided by one of our traders who liked the "country feel".

Have Your Say - click here.

What Australia's Changing Future Means For QVM

The mining boom is over and Australia is looking to other industries to lead our charge into the future. According to The Australian this week our services sector led by tourism and education will become a prime focus.

QVM has an important role in tourism with a very high proportion of overseas visitors coming to our market. An often misunderstood, yet prime driver of visitor attendance is our comprehensive souvenir offer complemented by a range of tourist oriented stalls, particularly in the top end.
Market expert, David O'Neil, made the comment that QVM should focus on food - "make yourself the best food market and the tourists will come." There is every indication that the QVM Board adopts that philosophy, and that is fine. But how far is tourism just a by-product of a successful food market and how far does it deserve its own focus?

QVM is one of the great CBD markets of the world and our proximity to city accommodation and transport services will always mean that tourists see us as a desirable part of their itinerary. Visiting tourists may marvel at our food offer, and even partake of some ready-prepared food, but their visit is not complete without some serious shopping in the souvenir rich top-end of QVM. And we are talking about big visitor numbers. Around 2 million international visitors alone come to Melbourne each year. They rack up 47 million overnight stays, spend around $5 billion, and 55% of them visit markets. (Source -

The balance between food and specialty merchandise is always going to be, well, a balancing act. Both areas of our market require attention after years of neglect and the upcoming renewal project is very timely. Deciding where to place your resources is important but the new emphasis on services like tourism and education may have just changed the formula. QVM's key role in Australia's tourism future has taken a new priority and we need to get our offer right.

Have Your Say - click here.

Car Park Levy At QVM Is Wrong

The State Government car park congestion levy is an annual fee placed on  all car park spaces within inner Melbourne. It will add another $1 million or so to QVM's annual expenses and that will need to be balanced, at least in part, by higher parking fees or higher stall rents.

Rent increases are totally inappropriate in a retail recession and should our customers be asked to pay higher fees for essential household shopping? So, are there grounds for special consideration for QVM? Should we be exempted from the congestion levy?

Let's look at some of the exemptions that the State Government already provides.    Car parking spaces that are exempt from the levy include:· Residential parking;· Hospital visitor parking;· Parking for emergency vehicles;· Disabled parking;· Parking for shift workers;· Garaging of fleet vehicles· Car sales displays; and· Car service spaces. Perhaps public markets should be added to the list?

The annual levy aims to reduce traffic congestion in central Melbourne and encourage more motorists to regularly use the city's trams, buses and trains. Traffic congestion is obviously a problem, and there is little doubt that both CoM and the State Government are moving to reduce the use of cars but they have also recently decided to invest up to $250 million to lock in QVM as Melbourne's premier food source for the long term.

Here are some of the reasons why we think that QVM should be exempted -
-     Weekly shopping for food (think multiple carry bags) is not possible via public transport for our more remote, aged, or disabled customers and certainly inconvenient for many others.
-     Customers seeking to source fresh healthy food for day to day living should not be penalised.
-     We are a community market providing an important community service for low cost healthy food.
-     The city has made a brave decision to maintain a traditional public market in a CBD. Inexpensive, clear access should be available for all local (suburban) customers.
-     The levy is an intolerable burden on small businesses at QVM and places at risk the market's role as a business incubator.
-   QVM parking should be competitive with generally free parking at suburban shopping centres dominated by supermarkets with over generic, mass produced, less sustainable produce.

We believe the State Government should be asked to grant exemption from the car park congestion levy for its premier public market. What do you think?

Thanks to our traders who came up with the following comments on the carpark levy - 
- The majority of customers who use our car park are buying fresh food. If there is no Goods & Services Tax on fresh produce why should there be a car park tax on fresh produce?
- On Mondays and Wednesdays the car park is not used for market purchases and perhaps a levy could be applied on those days.

The Future Of Food Hots Up

As Woolworths Holdings (the South African owners of David Jones) eye off the top end of the food market, Aldi make gains in the bottom end, and the two big boys (Coles and Woolworths) fight over the middle ground we wonder what the future holds for QVM.

More than ever QVM needs a clear direction in its food offer. How will QVM food look in coming years, how will we address the slow creep into our domain from a broad range of outside operators, what changes are likely to influence our current traders, and how can they best be part of the future.

Woolworths Holdings has announced that it will look seriously at the top end food market for its recently acquired David Jones chain and attempt to regain the ground that DJs held maybe 10 years ago.  It will also look at the possibility of a chain of stand alone premium food outlets. David Jones food hall used to be the Harrods of Melbourne and successful food halls around the globe indicate that this can be fertile ground for retailers. It should be noted that many markets are included in the list of the great food halls of the world.

Woolworths Australia meanwhile are reported to be looking at smaller footprint stores, possibly under the "Local" brand, as they consider a push into the pre-prepared meals market. On the subject of pre-prepared food, City Councillors have long been touting the benefits of Melbourne CBD's extraordinary apartment growth, and the opportunities that could provide for QVM. Many traders looking for greater numbers of traditional family weekly shoppers are not yet convinced.

QVM traders will be keen to determine their own future as QVM embraces the largest ever renewal project in the city's history. We have a great food offer but anything less than excellence will struggle against the relentless competition. What we need now is leadership supported by open and transparent dialogue between traders, QVM management, the Board and CoM. QVM's listing in the great food halls of the world is at stake.

New Car Parking Technology

Traders may have noticed that QVM car park entry facilities were recently updated and the operators have taken the opportunity to introduce some new technology.

The car park equipment can now read number plates. A recent TV news item noted that a number plate recognition system had been introduced at a Sydney shopping centre to help catch users who were using their 2 hour parking limit, driving out of the car park, and then driving back in for another free 2 hours. The new system recognises the car's number plate and makes sure the driver pays on the second exit.

One of our traders was surprised to find last Thursday that he didn't have to insert his parking ticket at the gate - the boom opened automatically. The parking attendant advised our trader that the car park operators had been trialling the new technology since Monday and the system had read his number plate, noted that he was leaving within the free 2 hour period, and automatically opened the boom gate. Like we said, the system is still under trial.

Car parking is a vexed question for traders, particularly the impact that fees have on customer visitation, but simple things like automatically opening boom gates could enhance customer convenience.