Destination Banbury’s Old Town S1/E2 – Comic Connections

Part two of today’s mini-series of blogs is about another cool destination store in Banbury. 

Comic Connections is a little hidden away in Parsons Street in Banbury but they are really worth seeking out.

Importantly, they are there every week, selling something which people travel from miles around to buy.
We recently visited to take photos and to talk with Glyn the owner, who is a real aficionado and so passionate about his shop, his products and most importantly his customers – not to mention being a big supporter of Banbury.

In readiness for Comic Connections’ biggest and busiest day of the year, Free Comic Book Day, we have been to take some photos and to get a feel for this great retail experience; I am now desperately resisting my youthful pass time of getting back into reading 2000AD & Judge Dredd as nothing else will get done if I start again !! 

 But take a look around for yourselves with this virtual tour   

Then #VisitBanbury tomorrow to pick up your free comic books and look out on the Facebook page for a very special scavenger hunt being launched at 10am tomorrow morning.  


Destination Banbury’s Old Town S1/E1 – Record Savings

Hello all and on the eve of the Old Town Spring Festival we at Visit Banbury thought we would do a blog mini series to celebrate three of the destination stores in town. 
A sad one to start, but a really cherished addition to Church Lane over the last six months is Record Savings aka Pink Pig, the Independent Record and Cult Merchandise Shop.

Unfortunately 2nd May is the last day of their lease but they are leaving on a high with their real record store day sale continuing with up to 30% off across the shop.

In addition, in light of recent events in Nepal in a very kind gesture, they have decided to donate 50% of the profit made on Saturday, 2nd May to the DEC’s Nepal earthquake appeal so go and #VisitBanbury shop local and support them on their last day of trading.

And we hope they’ll come back again very soon !!

(Some photos from Record Savings’ Facebook and Twitter feeds).

Banbury Market Part 2

Further to the first part of this blog which was about the market itself, now some simple (home) economics….. 

As some of you may know, my background is 22 years as a Corporate Procurement professional and Process Change Project Manager. 

That makes me very much a facts and data guy ! (I will not mention how many stalls are currently on the market versus the numbers quoted on the CDC / Sketts websites in part 1 of this blog). 

Therefore, what I want to do in the rest of this blog is to show you the technique which is used a lot in procurement known as benchmarking, or comparing like for like, or as you might say comparing “apples for apples” – as we going to do exactly that. 

One of the main stalls on Banbury market is a fruit and veg stall near the Druckers entrance to Castle Quay. On Saturday my wife and I went and bought apples, pears, clementines, an iceberg lettuce and tomatoes from that stall, as we regularly do. 

As part of the online debates people often say that the market is too expensive or you can buy the produce elsewhere cheaper, and when my wife said £1.20 for an iceberg lettuce was very expensive in relation to Tesco for instance I decided to validate or otherwise her observation.

So I just wanted to do a small comparison to show the cost of the products we bought and what we got for that cost versus the costs I can find in some major supermarkets around the town. 

This comparison obviously does not take into account the taste or the perceived quality but at least it shows how much you get and for what price and whether that fruit and veg stall is actually expensive in relation to other places where you can buy fruit and veg.

These prices were the full prices before the end of day “£1 per bowl” discounting started.

So to start – tomatoes – some retailers might call these vine tomatoes?

We paid £1.50 for a bowl of 12 tomatoes which weighed 930g. So the equivalent to £1.61 per kilo. Then onto the iceberg lettuce, which seemed quite large and dense in comparison to a small one I saw later in the day at the local Co-op convenience store which was 90p (but I don’t know how much it weighed so cannot compare it here).

We paid £1.20 for a lettuce which weighed 495g. So the equivalent to £2.42 per kilo.

 Conference pears £1.50 for 8 of them weighing 1.29kg or £1.16 per kilo. Clementines next – £1.50 for a bowl of 16 weighing 900g or £1.66 per kilo. My main observation here is that most of them were very small, hence why we got 16 in the 900g we bought .   Finally Gala apples, which we purchased 12 of, weighing 1.24kg, for a price of £1.50 or £1.21 per kilo.

The total cost for these items in Banbury Market was £7.20.

I then went online to Tesco’s online grocery  service and I priced up the same basket of items via Tesco as we had bought from Banbury market. In each case where a number of options were available at Tesco I have selected the lowest cost per kilo item.

Where possible I have compared exactly the same weight but most of these are approximate weights, slightly lower than the weights we bought in the market. You will see from the photo extract below that the price per kilo of each item is detailed on the right hand side.  The only item which was cheaper at Tesco was the iceberg lettuce and so based on this, my wife was correct (which is not unusual!).

The total cost for these items in Tesco was £10.17. 

However, overall, the five items from Tesco were £2.97 more than the Banbury market fruit and veg stall or 41% more expensive (£2.97/£7.20). 

Alternatively you could say that on these 5 items Banbury Market overall was 29% cheaper than Tesco (£2.97/£10.17).

I am aware that people will say that if you add the cost of parking in town to the cost of these items, then Tesco is probably cheaper, but I also took into account the fact with online shopping you have to pay for delivery so for this comparison I have ignored these costs and also I am aware that people will probably buy more than just these five items in one single supermarket shop, but this is just a small basket of goods as an illustration of comparable prices.


I am also aware that other supermarkets such as Sainsbury’s and Aldi exist in Banbury and once I’m able to collect their price data I will add these to this blog, but for the time being you can see that actually Banbury market is cheaper for these five items than going to Tesco.

Hope this helps.

Banbury Market – Part 1

***This blog was started on Saturday before the current strongly opinionated threads on fb started. I decided to cut this into 2 posts so that I could post this part early, in order to try to put some light on the debate rather than more heat by replying in the fb threads***


A major point of discussion

Since starting Visit Banbury a little over a year ago on Twitter, one subject seems to have been the topic of discussion more than any other – and that is Banbury Charter Market.

Now obviously, given that Banbury is widely known as an historic market town and coach parties even stop here to visit it amongst the various other tourist highlights, it is probably not surprising that locals and visitors have lots of viewpoints and provide much commentary as to the size, variety, quality and choice of the market and the stalls which are part of it and how it compares to 1, 10 or 30 years ago.

Whilst individual members of the Visit Banbury team may have personal views one way or another about the market, as an organisation, Visit Banbury fully endorses Banbury having a thriving local market and we see that a vibrant market is one way to attract more shoppers and visitors to the town and to keep locals interested in coming in and staying around town for longer.

We have worked hard to promote the existing market via social media channels and will continue to do so, as we see the market as a key foundation of potentially a memorable customer experience if it is done well.

However, listening to lots of people and reading lots of posts on social media it seems that many people do not really understand about the market, how it is run and who is responsible for it AND actually what the costs are, how you go about getting a stall etc etc, so we want to try to explain a few things (based solely on our research and understanding the facts), share some useful info and also do a little bit of economic analysis (which will now be in part 2).

We believe a key role for Visit Banbury could be finding out about the town and sharing that information with the general public (except where we agree to confidentiality of course – we are ethical) as we feel that often key information is not that well disseminated, so that people can form informed opinions and make informed, objective decisions when things are proposed and we can all positively build on the potential that Banbury has.

We will try to do this in some key areas in coming months.

Banbury Market Information Share


So, first of all, the background to Banbury Charter Market, which is held on a Saturday and a Thursday every week 9am – 4.30pm.

 A little bit of historic perspective on the Banbury Charters which appear to give Banbury the RIGHT to have a market but do not OBLIGE Banbury to have one…an interesting and important distinction. (thanks to Deb Menikoff Simmons for this link).

The overall responsibility for the market lies with Cherwell District Council and the Street Scene department run by Paul Almond with Ian Cooper working for him.

These gents effectively manage the market activity BUT a little over 5 years ago Cherwell District Council ran a commercial tender process for a commercial company to run the market as a subcontractor (market operator) on CDC’s behalf and the winner of that process was E.G. Skett & Co. also know as Sketts, who according to also operate the retail markets in Southam & Great Bridge as well as monthly Warwickshire Farmers’ Markets in Solihull, Harborne and Coventry. 

Their own website also shows where they have recently lost the contracts to provide market operations:!A-farewell-to-Warwick-Leamington-and-Kenilworth/c1if0/DC63C29B-7913-4B90-93E8-31787F392379

The initial 5 year contract term for Banbury Market expired at the end of March 2015 but we understand from CDC that they took up the option which was within the contract to extend with Sketts for a further 2 years without going back “out to market”(checking / benchmarking with other potential operators), so that contract will finally expire on 31/3/2017.

The information about the contract was found on line 9 of this spreadsheet and a tweet from CDC confirmed the extension; interestingly no contract value is noted on the register.

The following document link is a very important one as it is dated 2010 and was looking at the future of markets in Cherwell and details the criteria used in judging the tender responses and awarding the contract as well as some of the key objectives CDC had for working with the current market operator, which we the public should hence refer to when objectively reviewing the market as it stands in 2015, with the operator just having been given a two year contract extension. 

The following is a key extract from the above link   We have been unable to obtain a response to questions raised as to the decision-making process for the optional extension period being taken up by CDC but Ian Middleton, PPC for The Green Party, obtained this reply:

“The licence was for 5 years with a 2 year option, which the council have taken up. Sketts have not failed to deliver on the terms of the licence, and therefore have not given any cause not to renew. 

The market shouldn’t be judged in isolation from the rest of the businesses in town who have been adversely affected by changing shopping patterns, and Sketts have always engaged in dialogue with CDC and stakeholders on how to improve Banbury`s footfall for the benefit of everyone.

As previously stated the weekly markets face more competition nowadays and despite bringing in new traders they have not always been able to retain them. 

In order to help businesses succeed we all need to give a positive impression of the town and market.”



 Often, social media discussions ask about the cost of a stall at Banbury market. As far as we had been told it is £36 per day for a normal one table stall, however one trader we recently spoke with advised that on 1st April the fees went up by £1 to £37 stating that this was a compulsory increase that Sketts had to implement as part of their contract with CDC.

We have not been able to validate this comment but he told us that Sketts had told him that.

(If Sketts or CDC wish to challenge / correct this we would be happy to remove or amend the above paragraph.)

He also cited the lack of parking as an additional cost to traders as they have to park in pay car parks which is not always the case elsewhere.

Apparently the market in Bicester (run by traders themselves) is significantly cheaper (circa £15) and we have also heard that one table market stalls elsewhere at larger markets are less than £30 each per day.

Sketts do provide Charity and Community groups with stalls free of charge and we at Visit Banbury have twice set up stall recently to show our support for Banbury Market to see for ourselves what it is like to trade in Banbury and to get our messages out and to sell some lovely Visit Banbury merchandise which helps provide us with funds to do projects around Banbury, so thanks to Sketts for those opportunities.

Sketts want to bring new, exciting, innovative stalls into Banbury Market and so if you are interested in having a stall Janeanne Peachey is the Banbury Market Manager, employed by Sketts. 


You can call Sketts on 01789 267000 or see

Sketts’ Trading conditions:,0,0,0,0.html

Hope this helps in furthering an informed debate around the town. Part 2 to follow shortly this week.

Yet Another Visit Banbury Prize Winner

Recently we ran a competition in conjunction with Little Amsterdam, the lovely new Dutch Pancake House, Deli and Café in North Bar, Banbury.


The aim was to take a #Banburyselfie a photo or video showing someone in front of a well know Banbury landmark.

The winner of the competition, Sian Morris who is organising the Forget Me Not Ball and training to do Warwick half marathon with her friend Amanda Baxter, took a post run selfie with Banbury Cross in the background, which summed up some of what we are trying to promote in the town – the kindness of people doing things for others, mixed with the history and heritage of our lovely town.


Today I met up with Sian and Ilja who owns Little Amsterdam to do the presentation of a £50 voucher to spend on food and drink in Little Amsterdam.


I think Sian may be kindly going to put the prize into the list of amazing raffle and auction prizes she and Amanda have obtained to raise funds for the Alzheimer’s Society & the Stroke Association, so one of you still may have chance to win a lovely prize !

Sian also managed to get her photo in the recent “Be Positive About Banbury” film we made – see if you can spot her !

Thanks very much to Ilja and Little Amsterdam for supporting this competition.

Just goes to show – following @VisitBanbury has its benefits 😉

Visit Banbury on Instagram

**Update – April 2016**

After a wonderful year of posting pictures every day Kate had to step down due to other commitments and so the feed has been languishing a little waiting for another kind person to take it on and happily we can announce that since yesterday new photos of Banbury will now be posted on a regular basis so keep an eye out!


As the Visit Banbury project gains momentum we are widening the social media focus to include other platforms rather than just being Twitter focused.

We know different audiences use different platforms and we can convey our messages about Banbury in different ways via these other social media tools.
Instagram is a case in point ….
Kate, one of our team members and a very keen amateur photographer who has a real eye for the unusual, quirky and intriguing photos, has taken on the Visit Banbury feed and is posting photos daily which reflect the diversity of architecture, heritage, culture, environment and community which exists within Banbury.
We also intend to use Instagram as a means of publishing output from some of the photographic-based project work Visit Banbury will do, whether tourism related or to bring together the huge number of photographers in Banbury who are keen to explore and rediscover their home town through their lenses.

See more:

Happy Valentine’s Day Banbury

A gift from Visit Banbury to show Banbury how much we love you !


Thanks to

The lovely music is
Not Walkin’ Away by Emily Hearn: