BOSSES at The Forge Market say they are backing their traders “100 per cent” as the Glasgow institution finds a way through the Covid-19 crisis.

Some of the traders at Scotland’s largest indoor market are petitioning the Scottish Government to close a loophole that stops them applying for small business grants.

Management at the market has also contacted politicians in a bid to support the more than 100 businesses making up the popular market.

But Andy Donaldson, General Manager of The Forge Market, said the company also has a raft of other measures in place to ensure the future of the East End venture.

And he says it is hoped the market, owned by the French company Groupe Geraud, will emerge from the coronavirus pandemic stronger than ever.

Andy said: “We are proud to operate the market and are 100 per cent committed to reopening in a timely but safe manner, despite the market not receiving any form of grant or other financial support from official sources.

“Supporting our traders to trade successfully is something we take pride in, seeing ourselves as much more than a landlord.

“We stress – every penny of rates for The Forge Market, and indeed all our markets, are paid every year.

“This is purely a government admin issue.

“Sadly, only the Scottish Government has chosen to adopt such a draconian approach – all our English markets have been paid and all operate with the same system.

“We have written to and received support from both MPs and MSPs regarding this matter, and we will continue to campaign on their behalf.”

The Glasgow Times told how market traders are cut out of a grant scheme funded by the Scottish Government and administrated by Glasgow City Council.

This is because small businesses must be registered for non domestic rates of less than £18,000 to qualify but market traders pay their rates to the market owner and so are not on the list.

Traders are asking for parity with other small businesses and are backed by Andy.

As well as supporting the traders with grants, The Forge Market has also slashed rents for traders by 90 per cent and is asking that the other 10 per cent only be paid when businesses can afford to do so.

Andy has also been working with traders to come up with a plan to implement safe social distancing throughout stalls at the market, which turns 25 in September.

He said: “Over the years like many businesses our market has experienced its fair share of challenges, however nothing like the current Covid-19 pandemic.

“Luckily we have a fantastic group of more than 100 traders and staff who are showing a real togetherness, while remaining resilient to the current threats and are as enthusiastic as ever to welcome customers to the market when it is safe to do so, for another 25 years.”

Lesanne Cherry owns Surf 4 Shoes at The Forge Market with her husband and has been there since the very beginning of the market.

She said: “We are excited about opening up again. Shopping is going to change and I actually think people will be more likely to want to shop locally than go into the city.

“We have our application in for government funding but for us it’s about moving forwards.

“We have all our summer stock ready to go and we just want to get back to work.”

Bensons Cafe was established more than 20 years ago and has been in The Forge Market for the past five years, employing a team of around 20 staff.

Owner Mitchel Gamble said the pandemic had been very challenging but they have plans in place to ensure they can reopen safely.

Mitchel said: “Despite so far not being eligible for government grants, we are confident that we can come through the other side stronger than before.

“Strong relationships with suppliers and the government Job Retention Scheme has enabled us to keep our business above board at this present time and keep our staff employed.

“However, if we are required to operate at 50 per cent capacity this will present its own financial challenges.

“But the management team have been working hard to provide support that traders require.”

Mitchel added: “We soon realised that the market caters to customers from all over Scotland - not just our loyal local community.

“The market was going in the right direction prior to closure, and if we all work hard together we can carry keep the momentum going and come out the pandemic even stronger.”