Simon Whiting, Centre Manager at the Willow Brook Centre

Having been Centre Manager at the Willow Brook for 6 months, introducing myself may seem late however it has been the most maniacal, intense and fun-filled 6 months of my working career and taking a moment to reflect and yes, now introduce myself, feels right.

My name is Simon Whiting, I am firstly a proud father and husband. My daughter, Evangeline, is 5 years old and a constant reminder to me to always try and have a positive outlook on life. She tells her friends that she is the boss at Willow Brook, at times I think she may be right.

I met my wife, Kirsty, in 2012 while we both worked at the South Gate Shopping Centre in Bath. We married soon after as she was quick to point out that I was not getting any younger! We live in Downend with our two cats, one hamster and sixteen pond fish, as Evangeline is always eager to tell anyone. 

My girls are my strength.

Shopping Centre management is not an industry I decided to pursue, but rather stumbled into, and I am very glad I did. My shopping centre journey began as a retail security officer. I enjoyed the shopping centre vibe, I liked what we were trying to achieve for our clients, for our employees and for our communities. It’s a platform where personal creative flair can be used. It’s an industry that can make a difference to the communities in which our centres are positioned.

Before working in a shopping centre, I didn’t even know a shopping centre manager was a job, I didn’t even really like shopping. I adapted well to the industry as I have always worn my hat on being a people-person and team player. Shopping centre management is a varied beast, I can move from a Teams call with a surveyor discussing rent reviews and EPC management to a discussion with a tenant about a blocked sink. It is this variety that makes most shopping centre managers feel lucky. Our job is not a 9-5, it is a lifestyle.

My first centre as lead was Kings Chase in Kingswood, I then moved onto Maylord in Hereford, Mermaid Quay in Cardiff and finally back home to South Glos and the Willow Brook where I am enjoying my role and, more so, enjoying the community spirit that is Bradley Stoke. I do not say this flippantly, working within such an amazing community is a privilege. I have been overwhelmed at times by the generosity, sincerity and overall want to get involved by the great people of Bradley Stoke. I can lean on my past experiences to tell you that this is far from always the case. Bradley Stoke is unique, and this I want Willow Brook to echo. 

Having moved away from legacy issues that any new management role involves, I am now looking ahead to the future of the Willow Brook. We are fortunate in that we have an invested landlord and specialist managing agent who understands the retail landscape and supports me in helping drive Willow Brook forward.

Property management is only as great as the people around you and I am surrounded by high-quality characters including the entire centre management team, service partners, our incredible tenants and of course our reason for coming to work every day…. our customers.

Moving forward we will be utilizing Bradley Stoke & Little Stoke Gifford Matters, in addition to our social media and online presence, to share our initiatives and ideas and to keep our community up to speed with what is going on at Willow Brook. Watch this space!

As a part of engaging with the local community, I have been fortunate enough to meet the incredible people at the Brightwell Centre. Quite taken aback by the lifeline that the Brightwell is to those who suffer or experience neurological conditions, I immediately committed to partnering with the Brightwell and helping them by any means to maintain the funding for the imperative services they offer.

For the Brightwell, I am running the London Landmarks Half Marathon and am hoping to raise money and awareness for the centre. 

I am not a marathon runner by design. I am 6”4 and 20 stone, but training for this marathon has been all the easier by the support I am receiving from the Willow Brook and Bradley Stoke community. If you could afford the smallest amount of time to donate, it will have far reaching effects for the Brightwell and our community.

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