Flagship market sold?

The name of this column, ‘On the Market Floor’, was chosen for a good reason: the market floor is exactly where you’ll hear all the news in the fresh produce industry.

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Not all of this gossip on the floor will be true, but you can be sure it will be scathing, juicy, derogatory or even uplifting. In short, it will certainly be intriguing.

With this in mind, I offer what I heard recently about Cape Town Market (CTM) from what I consider reliable sources.

According to them, CTM has been sold to a consortium of buyers from the fresh produce sector consisting of producers, market agents and producer organisations. Apparently, the current management will continue for two years.

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When at CTM a few months ago, I noticed that Rob Lowe, the supposedly retired CEO, was there. I understand he is now actually back in the saddle.

If this is correct, it will be good news for CTM. Lowe showed an understanding for the industry lacking in many other market CEOs. This will no doubt be harnessed under the new dispensation.

Over the past year or so I’ve heard one or two disturbing stories about CTM, and was wondering what had happened to our flagship private market – one that I have often held up as an example.

Then, as far as I could tell, CTM began to struggle to maintain its high standards. I don’t know the causes, but this slide definitely did not do CTM or the industry any good.

I know that some people might scoff when I say a fresh produce commission market is different from the average business, but the fact remains: to successfully run such an undertaking takes a special breed of people who understand a system that is unique in the world. Yes, of course business principles apply, but there are other factors too, and this is where ‘non-fresh produce people’ stumble.

The value of experience
If CTM has indeed been bought by a consortium, it bodes well for the market’s future. These are people who have an intimate understanding of fresh produce markets and they will ensure that CTM returns to its rightful place as the leading private market in the country. They are all successful within their own areas of operation and this expertise will no doubt spill over to CTM and help determine its direction in the years to come.