Millions to market


DANDENONG Market expects about five million shoppers in the next 12 months, as it approaches its 150th birthday in 2016.
Councillors approved the market’s annual plan and budget at last week’s City of Greater Dandenong meeting.
Dandenong Market general manager Jennifer Hibbs said the venue was focused on growing community engagement and delivering a higher service standard.
Over the next 12 months, the market will nurture Sunday trading, reinvigorate Market Square, plan an alfresco dining space, rebrand, improve its trader mix and decrease rental arrears.
The budget indicated rental income was expected to increase from $4.5 million to almost $5 million next financial year, but Ms Hibbs declined to comment on where the extra cash would come from.
She also failed to answer questions about an increase in wages and salaries from about $500,000 to $725,000, and a jump in cleaning costs from just over $780,000 to just over $1 million.
The market started Sunday trading in October last year to capture new audiences.
“It is expected that it will take another 12 to 18 months for Sundays to become fully established as a market trading day,” the annual report said.
“Underpinning Sundays will be a series of cultural festivals, family entertainment and other events and activities.”
Transforming the Market Square, the market’s main eating area and a meeting place for shoppers, is a key project this financial year and will cost about $250,000.
“However the food offer is limited and the area lacks soul,” the report said.
“Traditionally food courts are used in retail centres to extend length of stay and consequently increase customer spend.”
An alfresco dining area and family zone are on the cards for the southern car park, with planning to happen over the next 12 months and construction to start in 2015-’16.
“The idea is to provide a collection of cafes serviced by a comfortable and inviting outdoor dining environment where customers can sit and enjoy food and beverages,” the report said.
“This will be complemented by a children’s outdoor play area and parents’ facilities as well as other complementary retail outlets.
“It is also an ideal location for potential future night markets and evening activity.”
In 2014-’15 the market will pilot evening trading opportunities starting with extended trading hours for the World Fare, which in March attracted 21,000 people.
A $70,000 market rebrand will roll out in stages over the next two years, including a new logo and way-finding signage.
A dedicated lease manager employed in the first half of this year is working to improve the trader mix, filling gaps and weeding out sub-standard traders.
The market has reduced rental arrears by 44 per cent since 30 June last year and will continue to work on this area.