Business leaders and politicians have today spoken of their shock and sadness after it emerged the firm operating Aberdeen Market has been plunged into administration.
The Market Village Limited were forced to call in administrators last week and the situation came to light after a charity based at the Market Street building launched an appeal for help.
In April plans were approved to demolish the premises which would allow for the construction of a new office, retail and leisure space.
Councillors backed proposals to tear the decades-old market down and build an 11-storey glass and granite in its place.
Deejay Bullock, community relations manager of Four Pillars, said they are trying to find a new base “urgently.”
He said: “As Covid-19 wreaks havoc across the globe, we have tried to adapt our services, as a local charity, to help those in need through the crisis and have been looking forward at the kind of support individuals will need in the future.
“As if things weren’t bad enough, we were informed on Friday that the Market Village has gone into administration.
“Aberdeen Market is our home, where more than 100 people a month access our services.
“Over the past 14 months Four Pillars have put more than £5,000 into the hub, making it look and feel comfortable, secure and safe for our clientele. We now need to find a new home and urgently.”
Bob Smith, who runs the second hand record store Aberdeen Vinyl at Aberdeen Market said the Market Village Company’s fall into administration came as a “surprise” and he had “no idea” there were any issues.
He said he is still digesting the situation and is considering the future for his business.
Bob said: “It did come as a surprise in the sense that we had no idea they were in trouble.
“We are thinking on our feet. We’ve been around a long time and we will find another way to retail.
“There were rumours about this last week but it is now all official.
“There is a never good time for something like this to happen.”
Building goes back to 1970s
Aberdeen Market was constructed in the 1970’s as a replacement for Archibald Simpson’s New Market, which was built in the early 1840’s.
The original market ran from Market Street to East Green but was demolished because British Home Stores bought the site on Union Street and wanted to expand.
The new market opened for the first time in November 1974.
The building was officially opened by Sir William McEwan Younger at the unveiling ceremony.
Younger was a well-known Scottish brewer and political activist.
The new market would struggle to retain the popularity of its predecessor with many of the stalls and shop units falling empty, and in 1992 it was given a £500,000 facelift.
A state-of-the-art CCTV system and a new paint job in 2003 for the Union Street entrance, which had been blighted by graffiti, was aimed at helping to help ensure the Aberdeen Market had a healthy future.
German art duo Herakut painted a dramatic painting on the outside of the building as part of the first Nuart Festival in 2017.
In April 2020, the city council backed a planning application to completely revamp the market.
The new “lantern-shaped” building would house offices, retail space, cafes, a business lounge and car parking, as well as public realm space.
Adrian Watson from Aberdeen Inspired wished the traders from Aberdeen Market all the best for their future plans.
He said: “Whilst respecting there are ambitious plans in the offing for re-developing the site, this is clearly an unsettling development for the people and the businesses currently in the New Market, with many having dutifully served their customers for a number of years.
“We all understand there are particularly challenging times for retail and we naturally wish all those affected the very best.”
Aberdeen Central MSP Kevin Stewart said it was “sad” that a major part of the city’s retail offering looked like it would not reopen.
He said: “Aberdeen market has been a feature of the city centre for decades so it’s sad to see it placed into liquidation.
“While we know plans were in place for the market’s redevelopment, it’s vital that the council now works to support the local traders affected.”
George Street and harbour councillor Michael Hutchison said it was “worrying” that the retailers based at the market were facing a “perilous” few weeks and months.
He said: “For generations Aberdeen Market has been helping new business start up in this city. It’s therefore worrying that we’re at a point where both the building and the entity face perilous futures.
“The small independent businesses in this market are part of what make Aberdeen unique and the market plays almost as important a role in our culture as it does in our economy.
“My first concerns are for the market traders who will now face uncertain futures but we also need to give thought to how we can maintain those opportunities for future start-ups.”
North-east Conservative MSP Tom Mason said: “The lockdown has exposed how brittle Aberdeen’s high street can be, as businesses wait to reopen.
“But there is cause for optimism as life begins to normal.
“Business and bustle is going to come back soon and people will be looking for places to spend their time and money.
“Union Street and new developments will be key to that resurgence.”
According to their Companies House entry The Market Village Limited is based in Merseyside and it was established in 1987.
Administrator Cowgills declined to comment.
Aberdeen Market is owned by property firm Patrizia but a spokeswoman said the company would not comment on the situation.
It understood the move into administration will have any impact on their redevelopment plans for the site.