Brixton Market traders speak out as takeover from Mike Ashley draws closer

Amid fears of an imminent takeover by Mike Ashley, traders at Brixton Market have set out their hopeful vision for the future.

Mike Ashley, owner of Sports Direct and Newcastle United, has reportedly made an offer exceeding £30 million for the market, following his summer purchase of land next door.

The market was saved from gentrification a decade ago, and one trader spoke of the importance of retaining the markets identity, and keeping the businesses local.

He said: “The companies owning it, and indeed managing it have been sensitive to keeping the infrastructure up to date.

“We have seen large rent increases – you always get told ‘that is the market nowadays’ but I believe economic models need to have morals in the equation, and they are lacking.

“We need to look at things longer term sustainably, and ethically.”

However, the trader, who wished to remain anonymous, hopes that the new owner will give the market a much-needed revamp, after a shift in the types of businesses that frequent the market.

He said: “There are problems with the drainage because there are so many restaurants, there are problems with fatbergs.

“It is lacking love and it needs some wind in its sails.

“People have been clamouring for some sustainable elements which are two a penny in places like Hackney.

“Why can’t we grow stuff on the roof? Why aren’t we recycling all the food waste?

“It is not enough that traders come up with that, somebody in charge as it were needs to help these things along, which is kudos for them. Nothing like that has happened.”

Another trader spoke of the atmosphere of the market since news of the potential takeover broke.

She said: “I hope that everything can stay and that it doesn’t get filled with places like Pret.

“We don’t feel good about it at all. I wasn’t against it being sold, but I think it would be nice if somebody buys it and buys it to keep it rather than buy it to maybe ruin it.”

The fear that the beloved market will be swallowed up is all too palpable among the sunny alleyways as community and industry, yet again, collide.

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