We catch up with Aileen MacDonald from Centro

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Aileen MacDonald from Centro gives us an update, as the shopping centre celebrates 5 years in Armidale.

What is your position at Centro, and describe a typical day at work? 

I was originally employed as an Administration Manager when I commenced in December 2009 and then when my husband was elected to the Legislative Council in March last year, I thought I needed a change, so that I could support him in his new role.  It was lucky I was able to stay at Centro and become the Marketing Manager on a part- time basis.

I must have the best job, as I get to talk to people all day. I talk to customers about promotions and the shopping centre. I talk to the retailers about their day and what is happening, and sometimes I have to sit at my desk and prepare reports. I work with two great people, Brett Varcoe, Centro’s Centre Manager and Amanda Frost, Centro’s Administration Manager. All in all, I enjoy turning up to work and feel blessed to be a part of a great organisation.

What has changed since Centro opened in Armidale 5 years ago?

At about the same time that Centro opened in November 2007, the world economy went into a spin and we have experienced the Global Financial Crisis, as well as Australia’s worse drought finishing and the whole of the Eastern Coast flooding not once, but twice. So a lot has happened, and it has meant that retail has been very tough not only in Armidale, but all over. We are still experiencing the GFC and learning to adapt and be wiser with how we spend our discretionary income. Centro coming to Armidale has meant there has been choice; retailers that otherwise would not set up a store in a rural town now consider it when they can operate under the Centro roof, as it gives them a bit of security. That has to be good for Armidale and means that we can shop in Armidale instead of travelling away.

 How does Centro contribute to our community? 

Centro Armidale contributes to the Armidale community in many ways – we offer a secure environment to shop and meet friends and family, and the stores here at Centro employ local people. We offer clubs and services the opportunity to lease space in our Common Mall area to promote their services to the community. We recently launched our ‘Go Kids’ Programme for children between the ages of 5 and 12, rewarding them for their efforts.

How many jobs does Centro generate?

Would you believe that over 420 people work somewhere in the Centre, whether it is the supermarkets, speciality stores, security, management or retrieving trolleys  – that does not include anyone who provides a service to any of the stores! That is quite a number of people and when you think of all the deliveries and other services that are provided as a result of Centro, we add quite a bit to the Armidale economy.

Are there any special events coming up?

We opened in November 2007, and this November we will be rewarding our customers. Our promotion ‘A little bit more …’ will be giving away $50 every day during November towards the grocery bill. That means a little bit more for you to spend on other things or save for a rainy day.

Tell us about your FREEBIES program?

Our Freebies Rewards Program is unique to the Armidale area and is a way of rewarding the many customers who come to Centro just because they come to Centro. It started in June 2010 and has been running ever since. You don’t even have to shop to be a winner, and that is what is great about the Freebies Reward Program.

Prizes are awarded every day and can be something from as little as the Daily Telegraph newspaper to a holiday for 4 people at Coffs Harbour. Our retailers have Special Offers available, so that you can try their products and each time you scan your Freebies Rewards card, you can earn points to other great rewards. During December we will be giving away turkeys – this will help Armidale families with their Christmas celebrations.

Have you noticed any ‘special things’ that some of your tenants have done; for example, what big fundraiser did Gloria Jean’s do?

Our retailers are fantastic and also support the community in many ways. Last year Gloria Jean’s devoted the month of October to fundraise for the Children’s Ward at the Armidale Hospital. They donated 50 cents from each coffee sold towards the ward, as well as having a major Fundraising Auction and a fun run with a difference – the difference was it was held on stationery bicycles and running machines; so, you still went the distance, but did it in the comfort of the Centre. It meant over $12,000 was raised for a very good cause. At Centro, we are all for supporting our retailers in assisting the community – EB Games had a fundraiser to support the Starlight Foundation, and on any day of the week one of our retailers will be supporting a Charity. Donut King shaved for a cure.

You will find that most of the people who work at Centro also support the community in some other way. We are very proud of all of people here at Centro.

Do you have an internet service at Centro?

We have a HiSpeed Internet Kiosk at Centro, which comes in very handy when you need to communicate quickly. We pretty much have everything you need here under the one roof and in one convenient location, with undercover parking and lots of friendly people waiting to meet you.

If we haven’t got it, then come and see us, and maybe we can find someone willing to provide it. We are always open to new ideas and suggestions. Just recently we opened a Go Sushi /Kick Juice bar and hope to have a new café open before Christmas.

There’s always something new happening here at Centro Armidale!

Thanks Aileen.

This story was published in issue 66 New England

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