Wed, 23rd Oct 2019
CODE in conversation with...
No. 24 | 7 April | Didier Souillat, Time Out Market


Mercado da Ribeira, Lisbon


A magazine launching a food and beverage concept has all the potential for disaster. In 2010, Time Out won the bid for the development rights of the 19th century Mercado da Ribeira in Lisbon. Upon its completion in 2014, I’m not sure even they could have predicted such popularity among Lisboans and tourists alike – it became an overnight success and the go-to destination for gastronomy and culture in the capital.


The space brought together some of the city’s top food, drink, art, and shopping offerings under one roof in a cross between market, food hall, and plaza. Along the sides of the inner perimeter around 35 kiosks, all clad in the same neutral black and white frontage, sell their wares. In the centre, high wooden communal tables and counter seating are available for visitors to eat and drink at. It’s a clever use of space in which the magazine is “brought to life” as “a beautiful showcase of the city”, says Joao Cepeda, editor-in-chief of Time Out Lisboa.


Following their success in Lisbon, Time Out is currently choosing locations to launch a similar operation in London by 2017 and another in New York by 2018. In addition, it is looking at Portugal's second-largest city of Porto. In February this year, the group announced the appointment of Didier Souillat, former Executive Vice President at Hakkasan Group, as CEO of Time Out Market, who will lead its global expansion in becoming “the first magazine you can read, eat, and drink”.


What’s your background?

I am originally a Lausanne hotel management school graduate who ventured into food retail, leasing and brand building. Throughout my career I have been involved in some very exciting projects, most recently as executive vice president of the Hakkasan Group. Before Hakkasan, I held top management positions at companies including InterContinental Hotels, Selfridges, Harrods, McArthurGlen Designer Outlets, and Daylesford Organic, which has allowed me to build a global knowledge across the hospitality and food and drink sectors.


What do you hope to bring to the role?

I hope to use my local (17 years in London!) and my international experience and my love of all things related to food to enhance and grow Time Out Markets globally. I believe in the democratisation of fine dining. The white tablecloth has had its day. In the coming months, I will be building a strong global team with very strong local knowledge to create the best the city has to offer to aid in the global expansion of the Time Out Market concept.


What is the concept behind the Time Out Markets?

Time Out Market brings together the best of each city under one roof – the most exciting chefs, bars, plus innovative arts and cultural events. Leveraging Time Out’s presence in 107 cities across 39 countries and its monthly global audience reach over 100 million across all platforms. It is the physical interpretation of what Time Out does best. What’s hot, right here and now!


Why is London suitable for the next Time Out Market?

London is now considered to be one of the leading capitals for food in the world and the new Time Out Market aims to celebrate this by bringing together all parts of the culinary spectrum, showcasing the city’s best aspects and creating an exciting and inspiring cultural hub. In London, Time Out is a trusted guide for consumers so the market will provide a trusted and pivotal point of cultural excellence for residents and visitors alike.


How has it gone down in Lisbon?

It has been hugely successful in Lisbon, hence the desire to replicate in key cities across the globe. The concept was launched in April 2014, Time Out Mercado da Ribeira is a 75,000sqft market hall bringing together Lisbon’s favourite food shops, restaurants and culture, and became a number one tourist attraction in the city on TripAdvisor in its first 12 months.


Where do you see Markets taking off in other cities around the globe?

We are exploring potential cities where Time Out already has a strong presence and following via its multimedia platforms, such as London, New York, Berlin, Paris, Miami, etc. There are a number of market sites being looked at in leading cities across the world. Additional announcements will follow London in the near future…


What can the Market bring to London that doesn’t already exist here? Who do you see eating there?

Time Out Market is about a celebration of the best cultural experiences already in the city, but making it easily accessible to consumers as they are found under one roof. London is a big and diverse city and often people lack the time to venture into areas they don’t usually frequent. Time Out Market enables one to experience each corner of the city easily in an enjoyable way – a true celebration of the diversity that makes London great.


How will the Markets fit in with existing F&B offerings in these cities?

Time Out is today one of the most trusted authorities in cities across the world; the first place people look to go and discover the best restaurants, bars and cultural experience and the Time Out Market will bring the best of the Time Out experience directly to consumers. With small, independent restaurants and bars being closed down at an alarming rate, especially in central London, the Time Out Market has come at the perfect time as it allows a new platform for existing restaurants and new and upcoming chefs to reach a huge audience.


Is the London sector in danger of saturation with London Union planning a market opening?

I believe that what London Union is planning to do is also a great addition to the London culinary scene but Time Out Market is not about street food. Plenty of space for all of us as there is a huge hunger for newness. Enjoying a high quality dish from a well-known or aspiring chef in a fun, entertaining, and democratized environment with a mix of locals and tourists is what we’re aiming to achieve.


Callum Edge


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