The historic Adelaide Central Market is one of the state’s most visited destinations, attracting 9.5 million visitors a year. The Central Market general manager Aaron Brumby explains how, in an ever-changing retail landscape, the 148-year-old food and produce institution can move forward while maintaining its heritage.
Since 1869, we’ve managed to curate the Adelaide Central Market chaos of more than 75 stalls to provide a diverse and exciting cultural shopping experience that enhances our precinct, city and state. But in an increasingly competitive retail landscape, how can we maintain a balance between moving forward and preserving the market’s authenticity and rich heritage?
For more than a century we have maintained the vibrant atmosphere, colourful characters and expert knowledge that generations of Adelaide families have come to expect from our iconic market.
The average tenure of a market tenant is 44 years, and this longevity has allowed our customers to build meaningful friendships with their butcher, greengrocer and fishmonger all under one roof.
However, consumers are increasingly spoilt for choice when it comes to where, when and how they do their shopping — from new supermarket chains like Aldi to the growth in farmers’ markets and online retailers. Their habits are constantly changing, so to stay relevant we need to adapt quickly to these new expectations.
Beyond providing the convenient car parking, modern bathroom facilities and parents’ rooms that are now a basic requirement, retailers need to engage customers on multiple levels if they want to maintain and expand visitor numbers.
Our market is more than just a place to buy produce or have a meal — we create a comprehensive culinary experience by running special events and cooking demonstrations throughout the year.
Increasingly, customers want to have a latte while they shop for lamb, or enjoy paella before buying pears. Regular monitoring of our trader mix has therefore become a key priority for the Market so we can keep on top of consumer needs and trends.
Our growing number of specialist eateries such as Comida, Le Souk and The Latvian Lunchroom are meeting this demand while complementing the traditional fresh produce stalls that have been Adelaide’s pantry for almost 150 years.
The Latvian Lunchroom is a favourite at the market
Resting on our laurels is not an option if we want to stay ahead of the game and remain competitive. While there’s no doubt we have added value to our offering in many ways, there is always more work to be done.
Shoppers now expect retailers to be open every day of the week, whereas the market operates from Tuesday to Saturday. At the request of traders we’re currently reviewing these hours to see whether we can better accommodate for our customers on this level.
We’re not alone in appreciating the importance of keeping up with modern times. Cities around the globe are renovating their historic markets in recognition of the value they bring to communities.
More than half of Barcelona’s 43 markets have undergone major restoration, Seattle’s Pike Place Market is expanding and Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Market redevelopment is one of the largest market makeovers in the world.
Our long-term plans for the Adelaide Central Market include modernising essential infrastructure to deliver a safer, smarter, greener and more efficient market with improved amenities for customers and traders.
The market is set to undergo a major trading overhaul by venturing further into digital technologies so that we can better cater for time-poor customers and compete with online retail giants.
Adelaide Central Market general manager Aaron Brumby has big plans for the SA icon
Online shopping, a high-speed Wi-Fi network and a smartphone application are in the pipeline in the hope of boosting trader revenue and attracting a new generation of shoppers. These technological advancements are all about supporting, not diminishing, the bricks and mortar experience.
The free smartphone application will allow users to earn loyalty points, receive exclusive offers and place orders through a ‘click and collect’ system — a far cry from the days when produce was delivered to the market via horse and cart.
This new eCommerce platform is the first of its kind to be used in an Australian produce market and will bring the market to people in ways we never have before.
We’re expecting this eCommerce platform to provide us with a 10 per cent increase in turnover — the equivalent of an extra 100,000kg of fruit and vegetables sold each month.
With higher utility bills and other rising costs of doing business, any opportunity to increase revenue for our stallholders is worth pursuing.
We’re backing up the traditional, friendly experience of visiting the market with the technology of a modern retail offering.
Naturally these advancements take time to implement and for our stallholders to become familiar with, but we realise they are essential to the market’s survival in the 21st century.
We’re looking forward to entering this new era for the market and we hope our loyal customers are just as excited to come along for the ride.
Aaron Brumby is general manager of Adelaide Central Market