Led by the Covent Garden Tenants Association (CGTA), London’s three leading wholesale markets – New Covent Garden Market, New Spitalfields Market and Western International Market - have written to the Prime Minister and the Chancellor calling for urgent financial assistance to save the hospitality and food service supply chain. London’s wholesale traders, who feed the capital via its out of home outlets and beyond, will be instrumental as the city starts to re-open and thrive post lockdown. However, with trade currently down 80-90% these businesses hang in the balance.
On behalf of all of London’s wholesale markets, CGTA Chairman Gary Marshall, has written to Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak (see full letter below) on the back of a letter from Mr Richard Harrow of the British Frozen Food Federation on 15th January, which similarly called for financial support measures to be extended to the food supply sector. In the letter, Gary Marshall echoed this sentiment saying: “Most of the support monies provided by the UK Government has gone to the consumer facing part of the industry, such as restaurants and supermarket. With the exception of the welcomed furlough monies little or none of this money has reached us.”
The CGTA represents the traders at London’s iconic New Covent Garden Market who supply the capital’s top restaurants right through to workplace canteens, hospitals and schools. The Market’s traders supply the majority of fresh produce eaten out of home in the capital and traders across London’s wholesale markets have been feeding London and the South East for generations.
The group of London wholesale markets have called for local authority business rates exemption to be extended to the hospitality and foodservice market, as well as ongoing capital and tax break allowances to be put in place to enable them to maintain the workforce. Furthermore, the CGTA have also called for grants for those companies that have had to dispose of fresh short life stock as a result of short notice tiered and lockdown restrictions. The CGTA are also pushing for permission for wholesale flower markets to safely open for in-person trade only customers, in time for the Mother’s Day trade, which is the largest date in the floristry calendar.
The letter continued: “We are job creators and offer some of the more disadvantaged in our local communities the chance to learn and develop new skills that are needed for the long-term sustainability of the sector. At New Covent Garden Market alone we employ over 2,500 local people, although sadly many have now been made redundant or remain on furlough.”
Commenting on the letter, Gary Marshall said: “The way the government have managed business rates relief due to Covid is quite simply unfair and unjust. Pubs, restaurants, hotels have received support and rightly so, they like all the hospitality industry are struggling. But the supermarkets, who are busier than ever with every trading week literally booming with record sales and profit, have all received business rates relief yet we haven’. That can’t be right. We are the suppliers of all those pubs, restaurants and hotels and without further Government support I fear that many wholesale businesses won’t be here to support the UK in re-opening it’s hospitality sector and to help London thrive once again. Urgent action needs to be taken immediately before these largely family-run businesses collapse. For the sake of all horticultural wholesale markets in the UK I am calling on the government to do the right thing and level the playing field.”
For more information:
Covent Garden Tenant Association (CGTA)