Day in the Life of a Shopping Centre Manager – Richard Ryan

Richard Ryan is currently the Centre Manger at Clifton Down, a Shopping Centre in Bristol.


Morning Routine:

I ride the train four stops from home to work on the Severn Beach Line, where the weekly rail ticket is a whole £6 and the Shopping Centre, Clifton Down, is also a train stop! Once I am in (usually about 07.30) , I check with the opening team (Security and Cleaning)  on the state of the morning and anything operational or service based that might become an issue. We share a quick confirmation of any compliance visits, contractor visits or commercialisation guests for the day.  Typically, I fire up the Springboard/MRI platform to look at yesterday’s visitor numbers.  Were we up or down to last week, last year, the same week in pre-Covid 2019?  If it is a Monday, I will look at my own footfall notes from a year ago to see what happened this week last year, especially for any big events that might have driven in store purchasing at our anchor tenant, Sainsbury. I enjoy the granular context of our like for likes and as an ex-retailer, I can’t let that go.  Critically, if  it is a Friday, we have a team negotiation about who is in the chair for the breakfast sandwich run. Maybe we will look at a solid gold 100-1 shot for a horse over the weekend too, and risk wagering a whole £1 on a team flutter.  We aren’t retiring on our winnings anytime soon.


Workday Highlights:

I will walk Sainsbury’s aisles every day, looking at promotional ends, availability, and the degree of fill on produce, the first section on show. It is not my responsibility of course,  but it is such a strong driver of customer perception for the Centre, it is an important check.  We have a couple of dozen tenants and I make sure I have visited all of them across each week for a catch up on trading, operations, compliance, and wellbeing, and of course to be in store for any issues teams may have with the Centre operations.  There are always rolling checks to  oversee on all the usual compliance areas, and there is always one of our subcontractors or a tenant subcontractor on site to meet and greet.  Clifton has a high student visitor mix but also plenty of regular, long-term residential visitors and it is a pleasure to see them and catch up. We particularly enjoy a chat with a handful of regular visitors who have been coming to site for its entire existence (40 years plus)  – there is always something to learn! As with many Centres, a good deal of  day-to-day process is pre-planned via our head office support (at Savills Bristol, Manchester, and London) and via M&E and PPM schedules on site, so that leaves the  X factor down to our visitors – the variety of that is the thing that makes every day different and unpredictable and addictive!


Lunchtime Escape:

Pan Asia Goodies trades just off our footprint and I love a nose into their store. It is always busy, noisy, and atmospheric.  The store  team are so knowledgeable and kind, and once a week I try to buy something unfamiliar and cook with it later on to see what happens. If I am brave, I will try a line in Cantonese, a language one of our Security team decided to learn last year!  I enjoy being chatty and cooperative with our immediate trading neighbours, especially the many independents close by. On a Wednesday, I give in to my inner politics geek and watch Prime Ministers Questions avidly, and maybe catch myself offering commentary at the TV.  I really enjoy Instagram and tend to post most lunchtimes, sometimes confirming my self-belief as a major influencer and getting as many at 8likes!


Post-Work Delights:

After work I enjoy cooking , and a couple of times a week, I like to  make something for dinner that will also serve for lunch across the week. We have a significant visitor peak at lunchtime, and I am British and good at queuing, but I don’t like to queue for lunch when home prep’ is so easy and economical. I really enjoy evening TV, perhaps too much, and if we are watching together, it will inevitably be a crime drama where my other half Jemma has it all worked out way ahead of me. If I am streaming TV alone it will definitely, absolutely, and always involve a spaceship and a final frontier. At home we have a Basset Hound/Labrador mix named Boris and each evening I like to ask him about his day and what he has sniffed, scored, or stolen on his two walks.


Closing Thoughts:

Cliched as it sounds on most days after work, I try to pick out one or two encounters in my mind – did I make a difference today, adding value or happiness to someone’s day?  Was I effective at work and did I give a useful answer to anything put my way, and did I receive any equally positive support?  If I can think of one positive I gave out, and one positive I received, then the day went well, and we all got on to do it again tomorrow.    As I write this and think about yesterday, I am chuffed that I introduced  our new cover cleaner Viola to a member of the team that speaks her native language (Polish) so that she feels 110% welcome on site and content on day one of her upcoming ten days’ cover. I am also grateful that I met Steve from our M&E team on his weekly visit and that he showed me just how to spot a dodgy thermostatic mixing valve – I mean, you never know when you’re going to need that knowledge and yesterday it saved me  a stack of money on what might have been a new fancy tap fitting. I’ll take that!


If you’re looking for new opportunities with Placemaking, or if you’re looking to boost your network within the sector, please reach out and I’d be happy to have a discussion!

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