Independent Leeds businesses take on big brands

Business is booming down at Kirkgate market and is showing no signs of slowing down

A portrait photograph of the article author
By Isaac Rigby-Nelson

When people think of small, independent businesses it’s a common misconception that big brands steal their customers with lower prices. However, stalls at Kirkgate Market, Leeds are breaking conventions and battling the big brands head on. Think David and Goliath.

According to local butcher, Andrew Houlker ”there’s just more variety” at the markets which entices people to shop there. This coupled with locally sourced produce allows Kirkgate Market to thrive in Leeds.

The markets are never quiet, if you go down any day of the week you’ll see stalls open and customers browsing the eclectic wares that those stalls sell. Mr Houlker thinks that the markets attract the majority of their customers on the weekends, he said ”people come from other places, places like Newcastle and other cities, to visit Leeds. This makes the market a lot busier on a Saturday, there’s usually a bigger buzz”.

A photograph of local butcher, Andrew Houlker
Andrew Houlker poses in front of the butchers counter

According to research carried out by Market Intelligence Agency, Mintel around 48% of people in the UK use online shopping with this figure continuously rising. However, being able to do a full food shop without leaving your sofa doesn’t seem to have affected Kirkgate that much, as Mr Houlker puts it ”that sort of thing hasn’t affected us really, I can see it affecting other places, but the markets here are a busy place, people come here regularly to buy from us”.

A photograph of a local butcher serving customers
Butcher serves customers in Leeds’ Kirkgate Markets

Whilst supermarkets can definitely infringe on smaller businesses customer base it seems, at least in Leeds, that people like Andrew Houlker are doing their best to turn the tide and keep their businesses afloat in an increasingly difficult work environment.


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