MANAGING SUSTAINABLY – CASE STUDY : Mall’s message


Recycling, smart use of resources and continual focus on reducing waste are among the processes applied by manager Andrew Wadsworth and his team as they tackle sustainability at the Bayfair Shopping Centre in Mt Maunganui.
The mall is already regional and national winner in sustainability awards, but Wadsworth makes it clear as the $15 million refurbishment is completed, that “we are not sitting on our laurels – there are always little things that can be tweaked”.
As they continue their drive towards responsible energy use, he says they are now looking at air-conditioning and lighting costs. An audit of water usage quickly uncovered excessive water use and resulted in the discovery of leaking mains pipe under the building. It also led to proposal to collect rainwater and use that to fill the toilet cisterns. “An awful lot of people flush toilet in mall each day,” he says. Wadsworth ‘s also looked at solar power, but says it’s “cost-prohibitive at the moment”.
Refuse was big issue for Bayfair and Wadsworth early on identified the need for the mall to become an influencer among its retailers. He engaged someone to monitor, then report on, what retailers put into the mall’s rubbish compactor over week.
The exercise prompted discussion with many, including some large users, on finding ways to divert waste that was being sent to landfills. Recycling of paper, plastic and shrink wrap has increased substantially and ongoing staff training has been put in place.
The Bayfair food hall claims to have achieved recycling first. “The customer has no option to throw anything away,” says Wadsworth. “Instead of providing common area bins for customers to use, they choose either to leave packaging and uneaten food on the table to be collected by mall staff, or to take it to cleaning/recycling station”
The remains of meals are sorted, so that paper and cardboard can be recycled along with glass and cans, while food scraps (organic) are used for compost. This results in 80 percent of it being diverted from the landfill.”
The Government’s “Love NZ – Recycling in Public Places” programme financed recycling bins at the centre. There are no general rubbish bins for public use – it is all handled by centre staff.
Bayfair management has succeeded in reducing the mall’s waste costs by 44 percent and its carbon footprint by 22 percent over the past five years. They are recycling 48 tonnes of food scraps annually (equal to the weight of 240,000 hamburgers) and have cut $350,000-plus from the energy and waste bill over the five-year period, while also diverting 60 percent of the centre’s waste from landfill each month.
The bottom line is important to Wadsworth, who began his career in accounting. “Our operating expenses are passed on to retailers, so if we make savings the retailers and the customers benefit.”
And the wider community benefits too. Via the Paper4trees project, the mall in partnership with Tauranga City Council rewards the recycling efforts of local schools with trees given to students to plant.
Wellington-born Wadsworth brings wide set of finance and administration skills to his job but has swapped dealing largely with numbers to job that “is all about people”. And after close to four years at the Bayfair centre, he’s enjoying it. “It’s an industry where no two days are the same. There are always external factors affecting things that happen.”
The 90-plus stores at Bayfair include major chains like Farmers, K-Mart, Countdown and Woolworths, along with service centres, specialist retailers and the food hall.
In September 2006 Australian property fund AMP Shopping Centre paid $121.5 million for half-share of Bayfair and took over the management rights, with Tower Asset Management continuing to hold the other half-share. By 2008, retailers were complaining about rent increases of up to 40 percent and several moved out, including Line 7, Starbucks, No1 Shoes, Living and Giving, and Pagani fashion.
Wadsworth conceded that while it was never good losing tenants, the rentals were based on supply and demand and there were other high-profile retailers wanting to move in. Among those who have moved in since September 2006 are Esprit, Subway, Cotton On (including Cotton On Body and Kids), Wildpair, Smiggle and Synergy.
Part of the challenge of the job is keeping everyone happy, and for Wadsworth that means it’s not always easy or plain sailing. “This job is all about listening to people, trying to get win/win situation, sitting down and getting solution that works for both parties.”
It’s also about looking for new angles to keep the mall’s retailers and customers happy. In August last year, glass-walled squash court was built in the centre of the mall to host New Zealand’s best players plus some international visitors as they competed for the first NZ Open title to be contested in 12 years.
Just on 20,000 spectators watched the matches, including an exhibition where multiple world and New Zealand champion Dame Susan Devoy taught Bay of Plenty’s MP Simon Bridges some lessons in the game.
“We don’t mind doing things little bit differently here at Bayfair,” says Wadsworth. “The community loved it and we’re always happy to look at something that will bring people into the mall.”
Currently, the upgrade to one of the centre’s major entrances and provision of new stores, including the Bay’s first JB Hi-Fi outlet, is nearly over.
Empowering his staff to make decisions is key to smooth running mall, says Wadsworth. “It is rewarding for those on his team; and members of the team make valued contributions.” If they make mistakes, it’s good way to learn, Wadsworth says, something he applies to himself too. Honesty is must and making time to “stop, have laugh with the others at work, and have beer or wine with them” is important too. “If the whole team is operating well, it generally means we can all keep to 40-hour week. I don’t necessarily see working long hours as being productive.”
Working “smart” also leaves more time for family, his wife Angela and their twins Luke and Samantha who will be two in December. “It [fatherhood] puts life in perspective. Family always comes first. I want to be involved in everything my kids do. Playing with them is stress reliever.”

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