BY KIRSTY PURNELL
Traders at a popular South London market have been told that its new owner will not make them pitch up and pitch out.
Brixton Village and Market Row were sold by London & Associated Properties (LAP) last week for £37.25m to a “private group of property companies”.
Traders had been nervous that they would be priced out of the rapidly gentrifying area after the market went on sale in October, but GCW said they have nothing to fear.
A GCW spokesman said: “The market traders won’t be affected at all by the sale of the freehold.”
Traders rent their spots from market operators Groupe Geraude, which up until Thursday had leased the 140 retail units from LAP.
GCW confirmed that Group Geraude’s lease and conditions will be transferred to the new owner. Irish property tycoon Aidan Books is reported to be the head of the company which now owns the plots, but he was unavailable for comment.
Groupe Geraude was contacted for comment but did not respond.
Pauline Byrne, owner of Sponge and Cream, said: “I feel safe now I can continue with my business.
“I was always thinking what will happen next or will they tell us to move. I also need to decorate but I didn’t want to start in case they moved me – I can start now that I know I can stay here.
“I was concerned. I just wanted to know what was happening so that I could deal with it. But this is very good news.” Adnan Iqbal, manager of African Queen Fabrics, said: “It’s just really good to hear. It’s reassuring to know that we can continue our business here.
“It’s a really good atmosphere. There is a mixed community, it’s very lively and there are all sorts of different people here.”
Manuel Chapela, manager of Taco Jalisco, said: “I wouldn’t like to move. I’ve been here for six years. I like the people, the style and the people who come here.”
May Joseph, manager of Wings and Tings, is still concerned, though. She said: “What if after one year they want to break the building down and terminate my contract and pay me to leave?
“It’s a community here. And it’s good to be in Brixton with so much change going on.”
LAP acquired the markets in 2006 and tried to build flats above Brixton Village but failed when campaigners got the site Grade-II listing.
John Heller, chief executive of LAP, said: “Brixton Markets were in a state of decline when we acquired them, with significant levels of voids.
“Following a programme of intense and proactive management, we are proud that today they are home to arguably the most vibrant restaurant scene in London.
“We will now look for new projects where we can use our management skills to create similar strong levels of growth.”