25 Mar 2019

Chairman of the Board of JSC Riga Central Market: “What changes, endures!”

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Exactly one year has passed since Artis Druvinieks has been appointed as the chairman of the Board. A great deal has been accomplished during the year and plans for the future are grand. Read about the changes expected in the market in the near future in this interview.

What market development and improvement measures are still being scheduled and what do you emphasize in your future vision of the Riga Central Market?

Plans for the overall market development are numerous and ambitious. To understand the right direction of the development, it is first necessary to understand what is happening around us, in Europe, in the world. Keeping up with the trends in Europe’s major markets, revitalizing the Gastronomical Pavilion, and locating a catering town or a food court here, we’ll have been taken the first major step towards a developed and European market. At the same time, we understand that the market can no longer be a market alone as it would be difficult for us to survive in the general competition between supermarkets and shopping centers. That’s why the team of the Riga Central Market is creating its development concept according to time. The opening of the Gastronomical Pavilion will be the point of reference from which we’ll see how to change the market and what to improve in the future. The Gastronomical Pavilion will become a symbol of our recognition as it will be the first fully restored pavilion, the concept of which will be slightly different from before.
In the near future, it is also scheduled to carry out restoration and reconstruction works at the Fish Pavilion. This reconstruction will be a great challenge and a test for us, it’ll require a great deal of work and constant attention. We are seriously preparing for the works for some time and it’ll last for some time to make the repairs as complete and high quality as possible.
I cannot but mention the opening of the Information Center in the autumn. Undoubtedly, the project of the Riga City Council’s City Development Department related to the revitalization of the embankment of the city canal will be an important step towards a developed market. We are very pleased that we’ll soon see the embankment of the city canal in another shape- well-tended and modern. The central market will inevitably be affected by the Rail Baltica project, which will undoubtedly become a major step in the direction of market development. As a result of the implementation of the project, we expect a larger influx of tourists from both the neighboring countries Estonia and Lithuania, and from beyond- Poland and Germany.
There is a project in process relating to the Market of Manufactured Goods. As I have mentioned in the previous interview, a multimodal center will be built in this area, locating an intercity minibus terminal here, parking lots, and office space. Therefore, after the establishment of the multimodal center, bringing in order the embankment of the canal and the completion of the Rail Baltica project, Prague street, which starts at the Market of Manufactured Goods and ends at the threshold of Old Riga, will become a kind of a pedestrian highway and we must be ready for it!

The market visitors often ask when parking lots will be arranged. Are plans or a vision already set out?

This has always been a very topical issue as people in the market find it difficult to find a place to park their cars. We are very serious about developing a car park project in the territory of the market, so we are currently working hard to solve it at least partially. We are also considering an opportunity of introducing a single discount system, such as the first hour in the car park at a reduced tariff.

People also ask questions about the existence of homeless people in the territory of the market and how the management of the Riga Central Market is addressing this long-standing issue.

Taking into account the fact that the Latvian Red Cross is adjacent to the market, it is necessary to coexist with the situation that there are people in our territory whose lifestyles are different from the ones generally accepted. Despite the fact that the Internal Security Service of the market interacts with both the State and the Municipal Police on a daily basis, this issue doesn’t cease. At the same time, these people live in the neighborhood and we have to live in coexistence with them. We are notified that the responsible departments of the Riga City Council are working on solving this issue, i.e., the Riga City Council’s Property Department has found a potential place to move the Red Cross. As the majority of its dwellers spend their daily lives in the territory of the market, it would ease the current situation.

The issue of illicit trade in excise goods in the Central Market is also a topical issue. How to deal with these traders? Is there any success?

As I have said several times, and as my predecessors have mentioned, the fight against the illegal traders in excise goods is like fighting with windmills as the root of this issue must be sought somewhere deeper than in the Riga Central Market. The Central Market in which this retail trade takes place is just the final stage of a long chain. Despite the difficult situation, we are constantly fighting against the illegal trade in goods. Until September this year, the Internal Security Service of the Central Market removed from the market territory and handed 5515 parcels of cigarettes to the State Police. Compared to time two or three years ago, the situation has dramatically changed. As far as we can, we are fighting this phenomenon and, in my opinion, we are doing everything possible within the law to reduce the spread of cigarettes and alcoholic beverages in the territory managed by us.

Where is the problem of illegal and long-term sale of excise goods in the market territory?

In my opinion, it’s a state-level problem. How do cigarettes reach the country and how are they distributed? In the market, we only see the final stage of this long and complicated process. Perhaps, in our country, there is a too democratic system of penalties for traders of excise goods.
The Law On the Handling of Tobacco Products, Herbal Products for Smoking, Electronic Smoking Devices and Their Liquids states that cigarettes and tobacco products are prohibited from being marketed in territories that have been granted a market status. In my opinion, this artificially created situation does not solve anything in reality as it is created without assessing the nature of the problem. If the ban were canceled, it is likely that, to some extent, it would also affect the volume of the illicit cigarette trade.

As you have mentioned earlier, the Information Center will be opened in the autumn. How did Central Market Management come to the idea of creating it?

Several indications of our own work pointed to the need for the Information Center. The fact that the Information Center should be created, was already clear to us at the beginning. There was only one question- in what format and when to implement this plan? Therefore, a vision was created, what kind of the Information Center we would like to see, with what functions, and where. Geographically, the Information Center will be located in the very heart of the market, on the Nēģu Square on Prague Street- between the administration building and the Meat Pavilion. The Information Center will be a great relief for both the Rigans and the city guests who are not regular market visitors.

What services will the market visitors and tourists receive at the Information Center?

Considering that we are the biggest market in Europe, it is not always easy for those who come here for the first time to orient in the market, so we’ll provide a wide and versatile range of services offered by the Information Center. It’ll provide information like what and where to find and where to go. Despite the fact that many tourism companies currently offer tours and tastings at the Riga Central Market, we think that this niche is open to us as well. We are ready to conquer our place in the tourism industry as we are rich in cultural and historical heritage, we have our own story we want to tell! We are very pleased that we have successfully started working on our souvenir line and that we’ll be able to introduce the visitors to our Information Center with our contribution in the near future!

What do you think are the main advantages of the Central Market compared to other shopping sites?

The most comprehensive range of products of any kind is definitely on the market. The market is also able to provide a full range of products in economic terms. We have quality products at friendly prices. The Central Market is undoubtedly one of the leaders in the Latvian market. Here is a vast area that is a kind of a small town in the city. It is not always necessary to make purchases here, here you can enjoy the mood of the market, the hustle, and bustle around and the ongoing events, and to feel the atmosphere prevailing only here. Bargaining, communication with sellers and the aura of the market are the advantages that only the Riga Central Market exhibits.

Do you do some shopping yourself in the Central Market?

Yes, of course. I have to say that during the last year when working in the market, I do it more often than before. I like Night Market very much. Often, after a long day of work, I go to Night Market to buy fruits and vegetables. To my mind, Night Market is a very successful project that allows any working citizen of Riga to come to the market after a long day of work and buy the coveted.

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