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MD of Durham Markets Company steps back after 27 years

After more than 27 years at the helm, Colin Wilkes MBE, Managing Director of Durham Markets Company, has retied from the executive role but will continue to champion markets in the city as a non-executive director.

Colin joined Durham Markets Company, the private company  which operates the city’s Market Hall and Saturday Outdoor Market, in 1990 as a director.  He was appointed Managing Director in 1996, and was part of the management team which oversaw a major refurbishment of the Victorian Market Hall and a transition from 3 day to 6 day per week trading in the same year.  The following year, he was a co-founder of the initial Durham Christmas Festival, an event that has grown extensively in the following 26 years, and is now a vital retail opportunity for numerous small businesses in the North East, and the most successful shopping weekend in the city each year.

In 2020, Colin was awarded an MBE for Services to Independent Businesses in Durham and  the North East, and to the City of Durham.

Colin’s role will be divided between the current management team, Operations Manager James Wilson and Marketing and Administration Manager Alice Wilkes.

Colin commented: “It has been a joy to oversee Durham Markets Company for more than a quarter of a century, to watch it modernise, to organise supporting events to bring people into the city and to work alongside so many dedicated traders.  Whilst I will still be very involved in the future of the city’s markets, I’m confident that with James and Alice at the helm it is in great hands.

“Not only is it inspiring to see new businesses such as Boondoggle , Quirkshop UK and Upcycle Me find homes in Durham Market Hall, it also gives me great pride to know that businesses such as Garnhams Pet Supplies and Clarke’s, which preceded my involvement with the Market Hall by many years, are still here, ever-popular with their established clientele, and attracting new customers each week.

Mandy Clarke, who runs Clarke’s with her brother Jimmy, said: “We owe Colin so much for his help over the years, particularly during the Covid lockdowns. Colin is clearly passionate about the markets, and passionate about the city of Durham.  Everyone in the Market Hall wishes him a long and happy retirement, but we are sure we’ll still be welcoming him in here from time to time.”

Colin concluded: “My message to shoppers remains the same now as it always has been.  We all love a vibrant and varied high street, and the only way to ensure its survival is to support the small independent businesses, the kind that you find in the Market Hall and at our other markets.  There are many organisations working together to help keep Durham unique and attractive, to help retain its character, and the more people who live in the region come in to the city and make the most of all it has to offer, the more Durham will thrive.  I for one will be back in the city often.”


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