A community environment and sustainable economy are at the top of the agenda for James Roberts, the new director at The Beacon, who takes on the role with a proven track record in the retail sector.
James wants to build on the centre’s excellent relationships with key organisations in the town and ensure The Beacon remains at the heart of the community as it steps out of the Covid lockdowns.
“We have seen amazing stories of fortitude, resilience and a determination to dust ourselves down and bounce back into life as swiftly as possible. We are supporting our retailers as they welcome back customers to The Beacon for a great experience,” said James.
James wants The Beacon to be the natural home for new community initiatives, independent retailers with a dream and the next generation of business entrepreneurs looking for a creative space where they can share ideas and boost the local economy.
With the recent opening of the mall enlivenment in the centre, James has set his sights on delivering more exciting projects for the centre, including the rebranding of The Hut community space, and welcoming innovative new retailers into the centre.
“We have just seen the opening of Boom: Battle Bar on the first floor, which is a real first for Eastbourne.
“I want to look at dynamic new projects that will really add zest to The Beacon,” James explained. “I want to develop a community environment and sustainable economy that will attract new audiences in addition to our fantastic shoppers who support us on a weekly basis.
“The Beacon is integral to the town and I want people to have a positive experience from the moment they enter the centre to the second they leave.
“Eastbourne is a vibrant town with a great mix of events and entertainment,” he continued. “But it surprises me that there are still people outside the area who are unaware of our great offer. I will work tirelessly with our partners to shout about the opportunity and potential there is here.”
James said the number of daily visitors to the centre was high compared to other seaside towns, but that he was keen to welcome even more people into the town.
James started off his working life in property back in 2010 after completing a degree in Fine Art. As a youthful facilities manager, he looked after sites between the Midlands and the South West of England.
The travel bug bit, and James packed his rucksack, bought a one-way ticket to Mumbai and spent a year travelling around South-East Asia and Australia. He took a job with shopping centre owner Westfield and knew within days that the mix of retail and property was his natural home.
James travelled back to England and took charge of a property portfolio in Birmingham. He turned around the fortunes of a half empty shopping centre by developing a business and marketing strategy. The strategies worked and when he left in 2018 the arcade was 95% let.
In October 2018 he took over the helm of The Grosvenor Shopping Centre in Northampton on behalf of global property company JLL and was tasked with creating stability and restructuring brand services. As part of his integration into Northampton, James joined the board of three different business and academic groups and has been closely involved with future plans for the town centre.
In his rare free time, James spends time with his partner Mark and their Beagle dog Barkley. Their current project is to transform their garden so it is fully sustainable, encouraging native species to grow.