October 18th 2022, Slieve Russell Hotel, Golf & Country Club Co. Cavan – The SCMAI (Shopping Centre Managers Association of Ireland) officially hosted it’s eleventh Shopping Centres Ireland Conference & Expo. The conference theme chosen was “Reconnect” as the attendees had an opportunity to meet old colleagues and new entrants to the industry for the first time after managing their businesses through the pandemic.
Local woman Marion Acreman, MacDonagh Junction Shopping Centre, Kilkenny in her role as conference chair, opened the SCMAI conference & Expo by welcoming all the delegates, special guests and speakers who travelled from all over Ireland and the UK to share their industry knowledge and experiences.
Marion spoke about how today’s consumer shopping patterns are changing, driven by global economic impacts forcing shoppers to change their habits and the importance of knowing how to connect to customers and create spaces that will entice them back into the physical shopping environments. She described how over the past two years the industry’s leaders had shown skill, resilience, and positivity to navigate uncertain times and thanked the association for being a great peer support network. She told the crowd of over 200 that the conference committee were looking forward to gathering, reconnecting, and learning to help deliver better performances for their own businesses. As well as a full expo of relevant suppliers, many of which offering disruptive technology solutions that enhances the work of commercial property management businesses, there was a full schedule of speakers. Keynote speaker for the event was Breege O’ Donoghue, Board Member & former Group Director for Business Development & New Markets at Primark. Breege spoke warmly and knowledgeable about “Inspiring Leadership” from her own life’s journey. She amused the room with a story that described an unfortunate mix up in a UK airport which led to her minding a full suitcase of paraphernalia that was a potential source of embarrassment as she opened a new store in the UK many years ago.
In addition, a presentation was delivered by Professor Alan Hallsworth (Visiting researcher, Portsmouth Business School at University of Portsmouth) who spoke about the cycle of shopping centres, the importance of sequential planning in towns and surmised on the future of shopping centres and the need to “outpace the lion”.
Justin Young, Centre Director of Mahon Point Shopping Centre, Cork and SCMAI member, gave a most interesting insight into the sustainability programmes in Mahon Point to deliver the ESG agenda there, including PV solar, market days, zero landfill, in-house water and future plans to eliminate gas heating. Justin also spoke on green leases and enhanced asset values as benefits to these green projects.
Gerry Duffy- MBS -International Speaker, finished the day by presenting the crowd with simple effective tips on communication and public speaking, an important element of the role of every shopping centre manager on a frequent basis. This practical workshop left attendees feeling more confident in delivery of spoken word.
After the formalities of the day ended, attendees were treated to an evening of fine food and entertainment. Described as the best conference ever put on by the Shopping Centre Managers Association over the last 20 years, delegates left the event inspired, with new connections, ideas and tips to enhance their asset performance, streamline processes, welcome customers and connect with teams ahead of the busy Halloween and Christmas season.