The new manager of Bradley Stoke’s Willow Brook shopping centre, Andy Wynn, says he has enjoyed meeting representatives of the local community since his arrival in the town back in February, when he took over from Scott Lahive, who had been in post since the centre first opened its doors in October 2008.
Andy, 34, who commutes daily from Swindon, has previously managed several shopping centres in the south of England, most recently Duke of York Square in Chelsea and The Brunel in Swindon.
His career began modestly as a 19-year-old security guard at The Oracle in Reading and, after moving up through the ranks, he has now amassed 8 years experience in centre management.
Although he admits to never having visited Bradley Stoke before applying for the job, he says he can see why people think it’s a nice place to live and work: “The place has an almost old-fashioned ‘village’ feel. It’s actually quite insular, in a positive, ‘community spirit’ kind of way. A lot of people seem proud to be ‘Bradley Stokers’ and are very clear that the town is not a suburb of Bristol.”
During his first few weeks in the job, he has established links with Bradley Stoke Community School and Bowsland Green Primary School. Meetings have also been held with officers and members of the local councils and representatives of the Patchway Dementia Alliance.
He says he wants the centre to be outward looking towards the community and is keen to work proactively with all the local schools, which he sees as “engaging with the customers of tomorrow”.
“Any work we can do with schools is ‘customer service in advance’ and an investment in the future of Bradley Stoke,” he adds.
Pupils from Bowsland Green were recently given a tour of the centre’s control room and recycling facilities and the young visitors were treated to a healthy fruit snack, courtesy of Tesco. The trip was organised after Andy contributed to a ‘learning about the local area’ lesson at the school by running a prize quiz on the history of Bradley Stoke’s town centre.
In his view, the centre has a good mix of tenants, not just the combination of a large supermarket and pure service outlets that is the norm for a development of Willow Brook’s size. The town square and retail terrace are “nice features”, although he agrees with the findings of a recent Journal poll that there is a need for a dedicated fashion retailer within the centre.
The Willow Brook Centre has an excellent environmental record, which his predecessor identified as his proudest achievement – of which Andy comments: “Scott did an awful lot to reduce the impact Willow Brook has on the environment and has not left much for us to do!” However, Andy is adamant that the organisation should not “rest on its laurels” and says he hopes to reduce water and electricity usage even further.
Christmas decorations are another topic on the new manager’s radar and he teasingly hints that we might see “a few surprises” at other times of the year as well!
We are looking forward to hosting a regular column written by Andy in future editions of The Journal magazine.
Photo: Andy Wynn in the town square at the Willow Brook Centre.
This article originally appeared in the April 2014 edition of the Bradley Stoke Journal news magazine, delivered FREE, EVERY MONTH, to 9,450 homes in Bradley Stoke, Little Stoke and Stoke Lodge. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.
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