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It is with a very heavy heart that we must announce the closure of Trademarket from the end of Summer 2024.

Our design concepts for Bankmore Square vs the last time Kainos used the site as a ‘compound’”

Trademarket has always been a hub for independent businesses and has over 20 spaces for grassroots enterprise and has employed 100+ people.

We always knew that our time at 14 Dublin Road, Belfast, was limited, but we expected to make this announcement with a plan for the future. The reality however, is the permanent closure of Trademarket is unnecessary and we believe unfair as there is one other site next to our current home that could house us, Bankmore Square.

We are excited about the prospect of having Kainos’ global HQ and an innovative student accommodation complex by Queens, just next door and believe fundamentally that all three can and should live, work and play together.

We have enjoyed support from every political party elected in the area, who have seen Bankmore Square as a natural fit. We have also enjoyed support from public bodies, local businesses, residents and from within Belfast City Council.

Two entities have however stood between us and Bankmore Square. Linen Quarter BID headed by Managing Director, Christopher McCracken. BID for those wondering, stands for ‘Business Improvement District’. And Kainos themselves.

We had registered our interest in Bankmore Square to Linen Quarter BID over a year ago, before they even took a temporary lease from the Department For Infrastructure, but they have, seemingly instead promised the site to Kainos as a compound for the construction of their new headquarters, although they are yet to even appoint a contractor. Turning a forgotten about space into a site compound, but not thinking it suitable to use it to house important independent businesses, before the site is used as part of the new Glider bus route seems an untenable position to us.

Kainos themselves, in their planning application (Reference:LA04/2023/4366/F in document ‘Outline Construction Plan Dec 23’ under ‘3.2 Enabling Works’) which was approved just yesterday, states their site compound would reside inside their own site footprint, not on Bankmore Square and they also have no less than 9 other potential sites they could use nearby. Unfortunately due to our licensing laws, any one of the many other vacant sites, including those near our current home, won’t suffice for us.

Contrary to Kainos' own company ethos that states “There is always a better way. And we don't stop until we find it” they refused to engage with or work with us to find a solution when we explained our situation and need for Bankmore Square to survive. It is also worth noting that Linen Quarter BID, who reportedly used circa £100,000 of public money to regenerate the Bankmore Square site around a year ago, but will now give it up to be used as a site compound, have exclaimed less than 24 hours ago in their own newsletter of their “accreditation which aims to cultivate an ethos of responsible & inclusive business practices which add value to society through… responsible procurement.” The fact that no procurement process was completed and no transparency for the agreement has been presented, nor an opportunity for us to propose a better use for the site, shows clear discrepancies.

Our design concepts for Bankmore Square vs the last time Kainos used the site as a ‘compound’”

Rewinding back over a year, we had conversations with Kainos who verbally insisted that we would be in our current home until at least the end of 2024 and they would be happy and supportive for us to reside next door to them on Bankmore Square.

As our first 1 year lease came to an end in Summer 2023, we were given a new lease but were presented with a side contract, which had to be signed as a condition of granting this new lease. This other document was constructed to effectively wave our business tenancy rights which in practice means we could be evicted without Kainos meeting their statutory responsibilities as our landlord. Namely in having been granted planning permission for their development (on April 16th 2024) and then giving us 6 months notice to vacate thereafter.

You might ask, how did this happen, surely there are safe guards in place? Normally there are, but Kainos, via their legal representatives, post dated the second document (dating it several weeks after the date it was actually signed) and presented this to The Lands Tribunal, making it appear as if this new side agreement was completely separate to the lease, which, for absolute clarity, it was not. Based on Kainos’ approach, we were pressured into accepting a legal situation that was imposed on us.

And why did we sign it? Our options were to sign the agreement, hoping we would secure Bankmore Square in the interim or vacate the site and have our 20 independent businesses and 100+ employees lose their livelihoods immediately.

Hope is not completely lost, we believe in the will of the people and in doing things the right way, even if not everyone else does. You’ll notice the Trademarket website ( has turned into an email form. By simply entering your name and email address and clicking send, emails will go to Linen Quarter BID, Kainos, all locally elected councillors, MLAs and the MP for South Belfast, Belfast City Council, Department for Infrastructure who are the overall site owners and to the Infrastructure Minister from Sinn Fein, John O’Dowd who we would ask to look at this very closely and remedy the wrongs that have been done with regards to Bankmore Square.

Regardless of the future of Trademarket, we want to thank all of our independent vendors, past and present for putting their unique stamp on this amazing project, to every team member each of whom makes Trademarket special, to all of our fantastic suppliers, all those who have supported us and of course to every customer who has come through our doors. The memories and the joys cannot be taken from us, even if our future is being cut short. Here’s to one more summer!