The structural change at Westfield mall owner & operator Scentre Group Ltd has cost New Zealand business director Justin Lynch his job, and he left the company at the end of September.
“I was in charge here for 8 years, in the country for 11, starting as head of development,” Mr Lynch said today.
Scentre was created last year as owner-operator of Westfield malls in Australia & New Zealand. Before that, Westfield Group had owned malls and ran development, and the Westfield Retail Trust held a stake in the assets and ran operations.
The Westfield NZ business was a standalone operation with 2 management platforms, but after the restructure Scentre decided to run everything from Sydney and New Zealand was treated like the Australian states, with one management platform.
Mr Lynch’s management career in real estate & construction stretches back 30 years to his appointment by Concrete Constructions as design & contracts manager for the Hotel Nikko in Sydney. Since then he’s worked for Lend Lease Corp, Prudential Portfolio Managers Australia, Colonial First State Global Asset Management and, since 2000, Westfield.
“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed New Zealand,” he said. “If something else comes up here I may stay.”
Scentre has named Linda Trainer as New Zealand national regional manager after 8 years as shopping centres & marketing general manager. Ms Trainer joined Westfield’s forerunner as portfolio owner, St Lukes Group Ltd, in 1993 as centre manager at the Pakuranga mall.
Another member of the Westfield group – chairman Frank Lowy – is also on the move. He announced a fortnight ago that he’d retire as Scentre chair at the annual meeting next May, when deputy chair Brian Schwartz will succeed him. Mr Lowy said he considered it was the right time to announce his retirement, given the group had successfully completed its establishment phase.
Frank Lowy will continue to chair Westfield Corp, which took over the international business outside Australian & New Zealand in last year’s restructure. One of his sons, Steven, remains a non-executive director of Scentre and he & his brother Peter are directors & co-chief executives of Westfield Corp.
Scentre’s third-quarter operational update on Wednesday showed its New Zealand malls lifted their performance in terms of average specialty retail sales more than the Australia malls did – up 5.8% in Australia to $A10,666/m² ($NZ11,528) for the 9 months to 30 September, but up 6.5% in New Zealand to $NZ10,534.
The group still owns malls in New Zealand that it doesn’t want. After it sold 49% of 5 malls – Albany, Manukau, Newmarket, Riccarton & St Lukes – to Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, GIC, at the end of last year, Scentre put its remaining 4 New Zealand centres on the market – Glenfield & WestCity in Auckland, Chartwell in Hamilton and Queensgate in Lower Hutt.
Attribution: Company releases, phone interview.