Chester Market has welcomed more than 200,000 visitors so far this year, it has emerged.

The indoor space at the Forum Shopping Centre has been undergoing something of a reinvention with focus shifting towards dining.

The arrival of pizzeria Stile Napoletano and artisan bakery and café Crustum, boosted by existing eateries such as street food specialist Thai by Thai, have helped draw people in.

It comes after visitor numbers fell last year.

Work has now been completed on the dining area as a new tapas-style stall providing family favourite recipes arrives this month, followed by a new delicatessen sandwich bar.

The announced closure of McDonald’s at the entrance to the shopping centre next month could also encourage more people to venture into the market in search of lunch.

Cheshire West and Chester Council has announced that the market will be near to full capacity this month after more new stalls open.

Zimsimbi will bring handcrafted wildlife sculptures made from reclaimed metals and hand carved homewares to the Market.

PIP Décor are offering a range of soft furnishings and gifts. Planet Anime specialises in Anime and Manga merchandise and a new hairdresser also offering spray tans ‘Chester Salon’ has now joined the line-up.

Cllr Samantha Dixon, council leader, said: “The face of markets is changing and Chester’s Indoor Market has seen more new stalls opening with a wide range of food stalls, gifts and services.

“Visitor numbers continue to increase with our enhanced food offer especially attracting lunchtime shoppers. There will be a brunch offer coming soon on race days and a changing events programme.

“Our market was experiencing reduced numbers of visitors last year, something that was being seen in markets across the country. Working with the traders we introduced new signage, a new website and a free shopper hopper bus. Our new range of traders has also given the market a much needed boost.

“Visitors can also claim a discount on the Market Car Park by scanning their ticket.”

Chester Market has a central position in the Chester Northgate plans, where it will transfer to a purpose-built building and market square next to a new multi-screen cinema.

A new series of weekend events has been introduced including a Record Fair on May 19 to promote Love your Local market.