In this issue we interview two Centre Managers and two Marketing Managers from four top performing CBD Gun centres: World Square, The Strand Arcade, The Galeries Sydney and QV Melbourne.
Centre Manager, World Square, Sydney
What is your current role and main responsibilities? My current role is Centre Manager for World Square Shopping Centre, having held the role for 19 months. My main responsibility is the overall management and operation of the centre which is always fun.
How and where did you begin your professional career? I began my career almost 22 years ago as a shopping centre administrator with a small shopping centre management company called Retail Estate, who at the time managed 16 small-medium shopping centres in NSW.
What do you enjoy best about your current role? What motivates you? Obviously the potential of the asset is a great driver. I also work with a great bunch of motivated retail individuals and have wonderful tenants.
What are some of the challenges? Do you have any tips for coping with stress? Shopping centre management in itself is a challenge on an everyday level. Most Centre Managers will tell you that no two days are ever the same and the most stressful part of the job is meeting deadlines. Just remember to leave enough time to meet those deadlines!
I relieve stress by walking the centre and taking the time to talk to retailers. They always ground you!!
What makes a successful Centre Manager? The ability to really listen.
What impact has technology had in your centre over the past five years? The introduction of digital technology into our centre has made a difference to us. Facebook and Instagram and now WeChat allow us to communicate instantly. The other great digital introduction for World Square has been the digital stairs in our Piazza which is always a huge hit with our customers.
How big a role does food/dining play in attracting customers to your centre? I remember when I first told friends that I was going to work at World Square, almost all of them had eaten at the ‘best dumpling place in NSW’ which was located in the centre. Things have only ramped up since then. We are still a hot location for food and dining and we intend to work our butts off to ensure that doesn’t change.
What do you think makes a successful shopping centre? Location, mix and aesthetics.
Which in your opinion is Australia’s best shopping centre, and why? Other than my own, my favorite all-time centre is Broadway Sydney situated on the skirts of the Sydney CBD. It started life as a Grace Bros department store and was reinvented in the early 1990s I think. It has location, mix and aesthetics and I love the vibe.
What do you think will be the most significant change in the shopping centre industry over the next five years? Amazon entering the marketplace. We need to be prepared.
Marketing Manager, The Strand Arcade, Sydney
What is your current role and main responsibilities? I started my role as Marketing Manager for the Strand Arcade in October 2016. My main responsibility is to develop and deliver the annual Marketing Plan and strategy for the Strand Arcade to support centre growth.
How and where did you begin your professional career? I started my professional career as a Marketing Assistant with Westfield (Scentre Group).
What do you enjoy best about your current role? What motivates you? Working with the community of passionate retailers at the Strand Arcade is what motivates me the most. They are all experts in their craftsmanship and celebrate the art of authenticity. The passion, dedication, knowledge and creativity they demonstrate is highly contagious and inspiring. It’s hard not to want to do your best to help support their business and the success they have created.
What are some of the challenges? Do you have any tips for coping with stress? The changing retail environment can often be challenging. The landscape in which we operate in can easily be impacted by eternal factors outside of our control. By staying informed and always curious it helps you prepare and plan.
What makes a successful Marketing Manager? Knowing the detail of your business is key to success. It gives you the confidence to take action even if it’s risky. Being aware and honest about the strengths, weakness and opportunities of your business informs decisions for the most positive results.
What impact has technology had in your centre over the past five years? The evolution of technology and digital experiences has allowed opportunities for marketing campaigns to be innovative and cutting edge. Most recently, the Strand Arcade launched our AW17 Fashion Video which was purely a digital campaign. It was a natural progression for us to tap into new outlets for creative expression. The video platform allowed us to showcase the latest collections from our retailers in a new and innovative way using interactive technology.
How big a role does food/dining play in attracting customers to your centre?
The importance of food and dining has grown tenfold over the last few years. For the Strand Arcade, it’s more than just dining in its purest form, it’s an extension of the overall centre experience. The restaurants Pendolino and La Rosa at the Strand truly represent this for us; from the ambience, quality produce and preparation, this is a dining experience that complements what the Strand offers and stands for.
What do you think makes a successful shopping centre? Success comes from knowing your customer and delivering a product, service and experience that connects to the emotion of what they want. You can’t remain static or complacent, you always need focus on the opportunities to improve and create new and elevated customer experiences.
Which in your opinion is Australia’s best shopping centre, and why? Australia’s best shopping centre for me is the Queen Victoria Building – It is one of the great historical Sydney icons, so rich in history, with heritage that can’t be replicated. There’s always a special reason to visit, it’s creating a memory that lives on.
What do you think will be the most significant change in the shopping centre industry over the next five years? We are starting to see some significant change now in that shopping centres are becoming more than just a place of sales transactions, they are hubs for our customers to connect and feel part of a community. Customers are savvier and more interested than ever before. For them, it’s more about the unique experience and service, how it connects them to the product and values that the centre and retailer stand for.
Marketing Manager, QV Melbourne
What is your current role and main responsibilities? Marketing Manager at QV Melbourne. My main responsibility is to develop and deliver the precinct’s strategic marketing plan to maximise QV’s performance, brand and operational efficiency and to drive profit and value for all of our stakeholders.
How and where did you begin your professional career? I started my career in property with Vicinity, working as the Marketing Manager for Northland Shopping Centre.
What do you enjoy best about your current role? What motivates you? I love that QV Melbourne is not a conventional shopping centre. With our outdoor laneways, large green space QV Square and our diverse mix of retailers, we really do present a unique shopping experience for customers. It also means that we get to deliver some really fun and interesting campaigns and activations and to watch customers enjoying them is a big motivator.
What are some of the challenges? Do you have any tips for coping with stress? With the diverse mix of retailers at QV, from large-scale national retailers to small owner/operators, it’s sometimes tricky to get the balance right trying to keep everyone happy. It can be quite stressful when you are dealing with a retailer who may not performing well and you really feel for them. I try to stay focused on the big picture and try not to sweat the small stuff too much. Failing that, there is usually a container of chocolate in the office!
What makes a successful Marketing Manager? Staying restless, challenging and innovating where we need to, so that we keep it fresh for our retailers and customers. Also knowing the business and knowing what is important to all of our different stakeholders, whether they be owners, retailers, customers or suppliers, is really important. You need to be able to listen and prioritise. You need to know your audience and respond accordingly.
What do you think makes a successful shopping centre? Delivering an environment that encourages people to gather, share social experiences and creates a sense of community or connection, is a recipe for success. If you can deliver this for people, sales will follow. It’s also important to have an understanding of people’s pain points and how you can ease these.
How big a role does food/dining play in attracting customers to your centre? With the QV retail mix weighted about 50% to food, this category is critical to our performance. Not only that, but food is such an integral part of the culture in Melbourne – we love our food! There is a lot of focus within the Dexus leasing team to look at emerging trends in the food industry and the retailers that are delivering these. We are also working on a new project to deliver an improved recreational space within QV, so that customers will be able to relax and enjoy their food in a beautiful space. Creating the right ambience for customers is so important.
What impact has technology had in your centres over the past five years? It’s completely altered the retail landscape. Customers expect a seamless experience now, whether they are on a mobile or tablet device, sitting at home on their laptop or walking through your centre, they have an expectation that they receive a consistent experience. You need to be ‘always on’, ready to respond to queries, communicate key messages or mitigate any issues.
Which in your opinion is Australia’s best shopping centre, and why? I love shopping precincts that buck the norm and are more of a hybrid of lifestyle, shopping and dining. It’s what I love about QV and also areas such as Sydney’s Barangaroo. They combine residential, commercial and retail to deliver a unique community hub.
What do you think will be the most significant change in the shopping centre industry over the next five years? Aside from the continued encroachment of online shopping and large-scale international players, I believe the biggest change will be driven by people’s desire for connection. For those of us that reside in major cities, working or living or sometimes both every day in the city, it can be isolating and overwhelmingly fast paced. With the growing movement for better work/life balance, it’s important that shopping centres create areas for people to connect, unwind and socialise. Delivering green spaces, children and pet-friendly places and events and activations that encourage social interaction and foster a sense of belonging, will all be significant.
Centre Manager, The Galeries
What is your current role and main responsibilities? Centre Manager at The Galeries, Sydney. I have been in the role for seven months since being promoted from Assistant Centre Manager at the QVB. My main responsibilities include maintaining and building relationships with key stakeholders, overseeing the financial and marketing performance of the centre as well as developing an ongoing strategy for the vision of the centre.
How and where did you begin your professional career? I started my career in Property as an Administration Assistant at AMP Capital Shopping Centres. After two years in Admin, I was provided the opportunity to advance into a Assistant Retail Manager role at Abacus Property Group, working for multiple assets across Sydney. Less than two years later, an offer was presented by Ipoh for the QVB as the Assistant Centre Manager.
What do you enjoy best about your current role? What motivates you? It motivates me to see so many new, innovative and passionate retailers in the centre offering a unique product with a point of difference which is unduplicated in the CBD. Being able to support our retailers in the constant evolution of brands and products that continue to meet the customers’ needs, is what truly motivates me!
What are some of the challenges? Do you have any tips for coping with stress? With the constant growth and evolution of technology making online shopping easier every day, we are challenged to find creative and strategic ways of engaging and connecting with our customers in order to drive spend and visitation to our physical assets. Being on top of current retail trends, seeking out new retail concepts, forging strong retailer relationships and utilising innovative marketing campaigns helps create a unique shopping environment which can’t be replicated online.
What makes a successful Centre Manager? Forming good relationships with your retailers, suppliers and team, and taking the time out to listen to any feedback and concerns. It’s also important to ‘walk the floor’ each day with your team so you can see your centre through your customers’ eyes.
What impact has technology had in your centre over the past five years? Technology has changed the way we communicate and engage with our customers. It is no longer a one-way conversation which means we can continually evolve our messaging in line with customer needs. It has also assisted retailers to reach their customer base more efficiently and stretch our reach to untapped customer segments.
How big a role does food/dining play in attracting customers to your centre? Food and dining is playing an immense role at The Galeries. The unique offering has provided a point of difference for our customer. The centre has quickly become a destination where our customers can shop, meet, rejuvenate and have a bite to eat. Food is definitely the new black!
What do you think makes a successful shopping centre? I’m a firm believer in innovate or die! it is important to reassess your long and short term strategy and evolve with trends and changes in the market. The success of a centre is ever evolving – we can always do things better than we did before.
Which in your opinion is Australia’s best shopping centre, and why? Queen Victoria Building. It certainly is a special building with amazing ambience, character and history. I don’t think there is any other shopping centre quite like it in Sydney!
What do you think will be the most significant change in the shopping centre industry over the next five years? Online shopping has given customers access to international and local retail options at their fingertips! I believe shopping centres are fast anchoring themselves in creating unique experiences rather than just ‘shopping’ which is creating ‘social and cultural hubs’ where customers can dwell and connect with friends and family. Shopping centres will need to constantly challenge and evolve to keep the experience fresh and exciting.