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21 CENTRE SPOTLIGHT


SouthGate, Bath “W


Owned by Aviva Investors and Multi Development and managed by DTZ, the first phase of SouthGate, Bath opened with 13 stores trading on 4 November 2009


e opened one sixth of a 420,000-sq ft scheme in the first phase so we had to market it carefully, letting people know what was opening when and pushing the


phasing dates,” says general manager, Simon Pullen. Because of the staggered opening, Pullen admits that footfall “wasn’t great” at the beginning, but he points out that if it hadn’t opened in phases it could have been closed for another year. And there were benefits – the handful of store openings each month allowed management staff to build up relationships with tenants before a new wave moved in. There are currently 51 tenants including anchor Debenhams,


Sainsbury’s, Urban Outfitters, Hollister, All Saints, Kurt Geiger and Apple, reflecting Bath’s catchment – 60 per cent of the city’s population are ABC1s – as well as Little SouthGate, an arcade of 13 independents. The catering element, which has brought a lively evening economy, is made up of Pizza Express, Giraffe, Jimmy Spices, Krispy Kreme and Cosy Club, among others. “I’m surprised how well the restaurants trade,” says Pullen. “It’s


something Bath missed, before there wasn’t much in the way of a catering offer in the area. On Saturdays between 12-3pm there are queues outside Giraffe and Pizza Express - they’ve bought life to the scheme and I think we’ve got it right for the family market.” Queensberry heads up leasing for the scheme which is currently 96


per cent let by floor space. North Face is due to open in time for the Christmas rush, leaving


three of 62 units void. There has been interest in those as well as in already-tenanted units, showing excess demand for the right space. According to Pullen, there was a real focus on getting the tenant mix


right from the off. “Both locals and nationals are looking for more space in the area,” he explains. “We could have been fully let a lot quicker had we compromised.”


Footfall reached 14.5m in 2010, significantly up on the national trend. Part of the scheme’s success is down to the strong partnership


between managing agent DTZ and FM services contractor OCS. Part of the strategy is to have the front-line staff acting as


ambassadors of the scheme, which is why they’ve been given new uniforms with the words ‘how can I help?’ printed on the back. “Security and cleaning staff are the first people see of the centre 90 per cent of the time so it’s really important,” says OCS area director, Nigel Harrison. “Security can be intimidating so they all have customer care training to make sure they’re approachable. That way visitors see a friendly face and know they can ask for help.” The challenge ahead is to work around the residents in the scheme’s


99 apartments. “We do a quarterly jet-wash and in the past it’s been done during the


night. Now there are issues in terms of noise regulations – the trick is to adhere to those restrictions while making sure there’s no loss to service levels.


“It will involve careful planning and managing - we might only have


two hours, 6am-8am, in which to get most of the cleaning done. Before we would come in and blitz the whole scheme but now we’re going to have to work block by block.” As for the future, Pullen’s focus is on promoting Bath as a destination


by sharing best practice and advice with other businesses. “We can learn a lot from different people in different areas,” he says.


“The ultimate aim is to get people to enjoy shopping and eating here. “It’s been a tough time for the retail property sector, one of the


toughest in living memory, but we’ll continue to listen to retailers and consumers. By working with tenants, we can maximise what we can do together and pick up problems before our retailers get into difficulty.” The Vaults, an open plaza designed to have a continental feel with


5,500 sq ft of restaurant space represents the final component of the scheme. Work is nine months in and due to be complete in time for Christmas 2012.


Find out more: For more information, please contact the author: mia.hunt@jldmedia.com


www.shopping-centre.co.uk November 2011 SHOPPING CENTRE


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