Market traders are worried about the rise of the gourmet markets
Gourmet halls are in fashion. Under an elegant glass roof supported by 19th-century cast-iron columnsH Century, merchants offer, from morning to evening, an abundance of food products, while restaurants take pride in the prepared meals with market products, intended for immediate consumption. The concept is very popular with municipalities, who hope to welcome the food business into the city centre. In recent years, Marseille, Pau, or Le Havre (Seine-Maritime) have succumbed to this trend. Quimper, Lorient (Morbihan) or Maubeuge (North) should follow.
Many cities use the services of the company Biltoki, created in 2015 in the Basque Country, which specializes in creating gourmet halls, playing with market codes. The company operates eight locations, in Toulon, Rouen or Issy-les-Moulineau (Hauts-de-Seine), and is soon announcing two locations in Angers and Amiens. Shops chosen by the operator must remain open five or six days a week, from morning to evening, sometimes until 11 p.m. Events, gastronomic workshops, concerts and shows are regularly held in these premises, which can also be customized upon request.
But these places, reminiscent of mall “food courts,” don’t meet the definition of market in case law: General Catering Service [consacré] to the population. Gourmet halls granted or delegated to large distribution companies do not have the same status as market halls, which belong to the public domain of the municipality and may be occupied, temporarily, by non-resident merchants.
Gourmet halls “Among the many scammers offering products similar to those on the marketplace, such as delivery services or click-and-collect.”thinks Kevin Morlett, founder of Saveur Marché, an app that indicates current markets and the traders in them.
Monique Robin, President of the National Federation of French Market Trade Unions (FNSCMF), qualifies the concept “sterile supermarket”. The high rents demanded by tradesmen and restrictions on being open for much of the week effectively exclude precarious workers, who cannot afford to pay full-time employees. “These are not open-ended marketplaces, as they exclude high-profile clients.”Regrets the President of the FNSCMF.