ACT News

Fyshwick food markets' new owners are veterans of the fresh produce business

The new owners of the Fyshwick fresh food markets are veterans of the fresh produce business and part of the team behind one of the markets' oldest stalls.

Jack Irvine and his wife own Wiffens, a brand that's been part of the markets for nearly 30 years. The Irvines bought into the stall about eight years ago.

When the markets went up for sale for the first time in 27 years last September, Mr Irvine, like many other traders, had concerns about who might purchase the site.

"We actually got to like the markets and feel a bit at one with it, and I think most of the traders do," he said.

"Most of the traders like coming to work. We didn't want to see a super fund or someone coming in and buy it, and squeeze the life out of it."

Mr Irvine, who bought the markets with his brother Alan, said he had no plans to make big changes, and the market worked well with its current opening hours.

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"What really makes this place tick, is it's four days a week, we get four really big days. It works at four days, it'd be a disaster at seven."

On news of the markets being sold, changes were also a concern to customers, who feared the property being converted to apartments.

The agents behind the sale said several highly competitive bidders had expressed interest.

"The property was vigorously pursued by a number of private investors, both Canberra-based and nationally," Peter Rossi, national director of retail investments at CBRE, said.

Mat Hicks, co-owner of one of the market traders Unique Meats, said he admired Mr Irvine's work ethic, and was relieved the purchaser was one who understood the markets and had its best interests at heart.

The markets, Canberra's oldest, began as the city's first farmers' markets in 1965. Construction of permanent buildings began in 1967 and many of the markets' tenants have traded there ever since.

The Canberra institution generates a net annual income of about $3.3 million and includes 629 parking spaces, as well as about 1740 square metres of vacant land for additional development.

The 2.65 hectare site underwent a major redevelopment between 2008 and 2012.

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