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Corn Exchange Rises Again

Welcome back for a 'real' name in the city

Published on July 4th 2012.

Corn Exchange Rises Again

RE-BRANDING IS a fraught business. Especially re-branding of key buildings and city districts.

The name was the result of a giddy desire to be new when all it needed was to be good.

Often it makes fools of those who risk it and we're left with laughably vague monikers that never embed in popular consciousness and soon become meaningless for those who created them.

In Manchester in the last fifteen years or so, Spinningfields has worked, City Tower for Sunley Tower is perfect, the Northern Quarter is now as well-known as Chinatown.

Why? Because the words resonate.

Spinningfields was a street in an anonymous district so there was no competing idea for the area, City Tower feels right for a noble sixties building in the heart of the centre, the Northern Quarter is clearly different in character from other parts of the city centre.

Ask people where Peters Fields, Corridor or the Millennium Quarter are and only planners, tour guides and SkyscraperCity people would know. 

Anagrams, acronyms, abstract and 'on-trend' words fail time and time again. Yet time and time again designers and branders sell them at huge expense to councillors and business leaders who feel they are out of touch. The designers and branders emphasise how very bloody zeitgeist they are by referring to Barcelona a lot and with weasel words, flattery and subtle enticements get a change endorsed. £50k is pocketed.

You'd shiver for the Coop's NOMA if the area it's spreading through wasn't already completely devoid of identity. Existing name Angel Meadow would have been better. 

Meanwhile  titles such as The Triangle is a classic case of a smart branding idea without an ounce of local meaning made worse by the gulping down of a title for which many people had great affection: The Corn Exchange.

OK there was a change of emphasis from flea market and bazaar to upmarket retail in the building but you suspect the name change was the result of a giddy desire to be new when all it needed was to be good.

Despite the fact there is no produce still sold at the Corn Exchange, the name had weight and meaning. The renaming of Maxwell House as The Printworks over the road has worked because it refers to a former quality of that space that had weight and meaning. 

As The Triangle failed to make any sort of impact on city centre retail, the management panicked, the council gave in, and a series of three metre high metal 'sculptures' pointing at the entrances were installed. These looked ludicrous, failed in their task and got in the way.

Thankfully now they've gone. Thankfully the Corn Exchange is back. Identity is restored after a dozen years. 

The initial phase sees the introduction of new signage and according to the publicity, 'the restoration of the building’s proud Edwardian architecture'.

Michelle Atack, marketing manager at the Corn Exchange, has said: “We are thrilled to be going back to our historic name of the Corn Exchange. We’ve been trading as The Triangle Shopping Centre for 12 years, but it’s time to change and re-position ourselves as a dining and shopping destination in the heart of the city.” 

Maybe she could have been more direct and said that the name The Triangle had been a waste of time from the start. 

The Corn Exchange is in Exchange Square with a range of shopping outlets from fashion, beauty, food and jewellery. Website here: www.cornexchangemanchester.co.uk.


The present Corn Exchange was begun in 1897 and is also, confusingly, dated 1903. In fact it's made up of component parts that were added over a thirteen year period. It's based on a Renaissance style and the main architects were Potts, Son & Pickup, although the Fennel Street parts were by Ball and Elce. The building became The Triangle after it was restored following the IRA terrorist attack in 1996.


Can you spot the big daft steel sculpture thingies? Now thankfully gone.Can you spot the big daft steel sculpture thingies? Now thankfully gone.

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24 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

tblzebraJuly 4th 2012.

Hurrah! Can we have Kendal Milne back too? And Red Bank?
(Bit of a typo in the yellow box – should 'pointed' be 'parts'?)

1 Response: Reply To This...
Tom HilesJuly 4th 2012.

Yes! Red Bank apartments would have been so much better than the bland non-place of the Green Quarter.

Jonathan SchofieldJuly 4th 2012.

TBLZEBRA, what would I do without you?

LukewarmdogJuly 4th 2012.

Can we have the flea market, bazaar and part of my misspent childhood that was spent in the Corn Exchange back too as well please?

Kevin PeelJuly 4th 2012.

I love this building and I'm delighted to see it getting back on the right rack.

3 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousJuly 5th 2012.

Really? Not like you to have to say something.

tblzebraJuly 6th 2012.

What rack would that be?

AnonymousJuly 6th 2012.

Oh what a surprise, no doubt all your work as well...

Phil MurphyJuly 4th 2012.

They called it a 'shopping centre'. Massive error. On the one hand they tried to make it cool, on the other they called it a 'shopping centre'. Oh dear.
Nothing about that building is a shopping centre, it has far too much character.

Not embracing the true character of the place was a mistake.
Trying to turn it into a shopping centre was a proper cock-up.
Branding it as a shopping centre was the smelly, steamy, curly bit on top of their mistake-cake.

Tear every last shred of the modern fakery out and let us see the inside of the building again. Then, maybe, we just might start to love it again.

Diana HoltJuly 4th 2012.

great news - can we have a mixture of vintage and new

DavidJuly 4th 2012.

The biggest mistake was taking out the space in the middle of each floors.That was a pointless loss of retail and restaurant space.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Richard HJJuly 5th 2012.

Absolutely right David. The place will never look alive and bustling as long as you're greeted by a hundred yards of nothing the moment you walk in.

Ghostly TomJuly 5th 2012.

How very true. Good to see the name officially back. Remember they tries to rename the Midland, Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza? Next on the lisy should be reclaiming Kendal's!

RevaulxJuly 5th 2012.

Goods news about the name; better news that those vile "sculptures" have gone. Mancunican public art must be the worst anywhere; Soviet-style statues of Stalin would be preferable...

Ian ChristieJuly 5th 2012.

Talking about fatuous re-naming, some years ago the Oxnoble pub in Liverpool Road, the only pub in the UK (the world?) named after a potato, was boringly renamed The Ox, a name shared with several hundred other pubs all over the country. A couple of years ago the current management, Baa Bar, agreed to re-re-name it The Oxnoble but the re-rebranding process is painfully slow. So far all they've managed to do is put 'Oxnoble' on the menu; the ridiculous pictures of oxes inside the pub remain.

David MooresJuly 5th 2012.

Fashions in clothes, fashions in attitudes, trendy names . . . . I'm old enough to know that most things go in circles and come round again. So why bother spinning the wheel in the first place?

AnonymousJuly 6th 2012.

A visit to the Corn Exchange used to be one of the highlights of my week back in my youth...comics, video games, books, music and all manner of other things of interest me were to be had in and around the place.

Ever since it was redeveloped and rebranded, I've found very little reason to visit the place.

Someone should take a leaf out of Leed's book as to how to utilise such a key historic building.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousJuly 6th 2012.

Er, Leeds', that is...!

HOMOGENERICJuly 8th 2012.

Your seriously deluded if you think rebranding it will make a difference, have you not noticed how many shops are closed or on the verge of closing. The only way you'd get anyone in there is to put pound stretcher or LidL in. The old saying 'familiarity breeds contempt' certainly rings true for Manchester, from Piccadilly Market st. King st. and Deansgate it's all the same tediously uninteresting shops, the only minor exception is the Northern quarter though you'll find more cafes and bars than shops. Go back 30 yrs and Manchester was one of the best in places outside of London, now look at it! The whole area around the corn exchange is a cods head and it will take a lot more than remaining it to sort it out.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Shop till you dropJuly 8th 2012.

It's not just rebranding. They're looking to attract more independent retailers as well.
Manchester is still broadly regarded as the best place for shopping outside London. Stop moaning.

HOMOGENERICJuly 9th 2012.

"Manchester is still broadly regarded as the best place for shopping outside London."

Like I said 'familiarity breeds contempt', try getting out more.

Jonathan SchofieldJuly 9th 2012.

Homogenic, so what would you do to improve Manchester's shopping balance?

Ian WilsonJuly 9th 2012.

Drop business rates, offer substantial rent relief to independent retailers, analyse brand availability in the city cent and only offer leases to those that guarantee new products/services, council help with advertising new businesses or make small grants available for new independents looking to compete in the city centre. The city has to invest in it's infrastructure.

HOMOGENERICJuly 10th 2012.

The council will never drop business rates just as landlords won't give rent relief and certainly not in the soon to be reborn again "Corn Exchange" when I would assume 'they' haven't recouped the loss on the abysmal refurb they did previously (well' maybe they'll give a years grace and then bump up the rent). But seriously it will go the same way as the Lowry, full of uninteresting chains selling nothing you want to buy, maybe we'll see more of the mundane like Gap or O2 or something more upmarket like Waitrose, after all it's not like the city centre is over run with supermarkets.

Independants can't afford the rents, the landlords don't care and the council are intent on cluttering up every open space they lay their hands on.

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