Cascades of colourful produce, fish so fresh they might have jumped straight from the waves, an abundance of food spanning every shade of savoury and sweet.
Borough Market is a feast for all the senses, not just the tastebuds.
The scents of cheese, herbs and spices, grilled meats; the sociable din of the souk; the visual theatre that stands in comparison with the best in the world; the tactile interaction with people and products.
No wonder Borough Market has become such a retail and leisure destination for Londoners and visitors alike, successfully blending day and night-time economies and home to well-known chains and smaller, entrepreneurial businesses.
And so, sadly, it became the target of malevolent fanatics who hate the fun, diversity and freedom of lifestyle its stalls, shops, bars and eateries represent.
Retail locations, whether single stores or megamalls, are by their nature destinations that draw throngs of people every day of the week.
“The scents of cheese, herbs and spices, grilled meats; the sociable din of the souk; the retail visual theatre that stands comparison with the best in the world; the tactile interaction with people and products”
So after the sickening attacks of the last few weeks in Manchester and London retailers will be reviewing their security measures, checking and double-checking that they are robust as can be.
This week we take a look at what retailers and shopping centre owners should be doing, and how they can work together to minimise the threats.
As Hammerson portfolio security manager Graham Williams tells us, this is an issue on which businesses should collaborate.
“There are no commercial sensitivities in co-operating to protect everyone coming to our centres,” he rightly points out.
That way they can ensure that business as normal continues. It’s a cliched term perhaps, but no less important for that.
Because business as usual, for citizens as much as companies, is what the zealots want to undermine.
“Once the market reopens, do pay a visit if you can and spend some money there”
Everybody in retail – from the delivery bay, to front of store, to boardroom – can play their part in keeping customers, and the country, as safe as possible.
And, once the market reopens, do pay a visit if you can and spend some money there.
As well as helping ensure that business swiftly recovers, you’ll be inspired by the retail verve that has made it such a draw.
Joules’ winning personality
For many fashion retailers, the past year or so has brought difficult trading.
As Marks & Spencer pointed out in its results last month, Kantar data showed that the entire clothing market declined by 1.8% over 52 weeks.
But Joules, which floated on AIM last year, was able to celebrate its first 12 months as a listed company with news that profits will be “comfortably ahead of previous expectations”.
Despite an apparent shift in consumer spending towards leisure and experience that has challenged some big apparel players, Joules increased both retail and wholesale revenues.
“Joules is a business with a personality. That personality is consistently reflected in the brand, in-store and online”
Full-price sales and consequently gross margin have risen too.
There are lessons to learn from Joules.
The retailer has maintained a keen focus on product and quality.
That’s a feature it shares with a consistent fashion star, Ted Baker, but one that some other clothing specialists have slipped up on.
And, like Ted Baker, Joules is a business with a personality. That personality is consistently reflected in the brand, in-store and online, and remains true to the retailer’s origins.
It contrasts with the blandness and associated impression of lack of purpose that afflicts some competitors.
As food price inflation bites and pressure mounts on discretionary spending on categories such as fashion, what truly makes a retailer distinctive will be one factor that marks out the winners from the losers.