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[Interview] A day in the life of… Rob Deacon, Liverpool ONE

Meet Rob Deacon, Asset Management Director at Liverpool ONE, under the stewardship of Grosvenor. His journey from a Liverpool John Moores University student to a pivotal… View Article

INTERVIEWS

[Interview] A day in the life of… Rob Deacon, Liverpool ONE

Meet Rob Deacon, Asset Management Director at Liverpool ONE, under the stewardship of Grosvenor.

His journey from a Liverpool John Moores University student to a pivotal figure in Liverpool’s retail landscape showcases not just professional growth but a deep commitment to community and sustainable urban development. Working for Grosvenor, a global entity dedicated to improving property and places with a keen focus on commercial, social, and environmental benefits, Rob’s role takes on additional layers of significance.

Through this interview, Rob shares how his efforts at Liverpool ONE, supported by Grosvenor’s values-led approach, contribute to the vibrancy of Liverpool and reflect a broader mission towards creating sustainable and thriving urban environments for future generations.

Could you please share your background with us?

I completed a property degree at the Liverpool John Moores University and am originally from the area. My first job was at a multidisciplinary surveying practice in Manchester. I got my APC qualification, which is a requirement for surveyors, and became a chartered surveyor. The opportunity at Liverpool ONE was presented by a recruitment agent, and I’ve been here for over ten years now, progressing to the role of Director of Asset Management. Interestingly, my journey has come full circle; I worked part-time in one of the shops here while at university, which provides a unique perspective on my current role, from working in a store to now influencing which stores open at the destination.

What drew you to a career in surveying?

Initially unsure about my career path, I became interested in surveying through one of my mother’s friends and my inherent interest in property. The property degree seemed career-focused, providing a clear path, and the multifaceted nature of property, given that we all interact with it daily, intrigued me.

Why retail?

For me, retail and commercial property stands out as the most exciting sector among the various pathways in surveying, such as residential and industrial. It’s vibrant and always changing, which appeals to me. I’m particularly fascinated by the direct impact our work at Liverpool ONE has on consumer experiences and the success of the brands within the destination. Retail is all about connection and experience – it’s dynamic, constantly responding to trends and change, which makes it incredibly exciting. And I love seeing the tangible results of our efforts: people enjoying the space, engaging with brands, and creating experiences.

This sector embodies a mix of commerce, culture, and community that you don’t find to the same extent in residential or industrial real estate. My work is all about making Liverpool ONE not just a shopping destination but a place where people come to together to experience something unique and memorable. That direct contribution to the local community and economy makes retail incredibly rewarding for me.

Tell us about Liverpool ONE.

Liverpool ONE is a landmark urban regeneration project that revitalised around 42 acres of Liverpool’s city centre, an area significantly impacted by bombing during the Second World War. Before Liverpool ONE, this part of the city had not seen substantial investment or redevelopment, leaving a marked need for revitalisation.

Opening in 2008, Liverpool ONE has transformed this once-blighted area into a vibrant open-air retail and entertainment destination. Last year we celebrated our 15-year anniversary, and in that time, we have established Liverpool ONE as a premier destination, not just in Liverpool or the North West but as a model of successful urban regeneration in the UK.

In what ways has Liverpool ONE evolved to meet the demands of the digital age and shifting shopper expectations?

We recognise that physical retail is now more about experiences than mere transactions. People visit Liverpool ONE for more than just shopping, and by offering a mix of retail, leisure, and F&B options, we encourage visitors to spend the entire day here. Our approach is to leverage the city’s strengths and offer unique experiences that attract a diverse customer base, including hosting events and introducing emerging brands.

Could you describe the day-to-day responsibilities and the impact of your role at Liverpool ONE?

My role is about ensuring Liverpool ONE remains a vibrant, engaging destination that meets the needs of our community and sets a benchmark in the retail and property industry. Day-to-day, the role varies, reflecting the lively nature of asset management. I work with current and prospective retailers, building partnerships that are crucial in the post-COVID landscape. Understanding the retail business and supporting our tenants’ success is vital. While there are administrative aspects to my job, the most rewarding part is seeing the positive impact of new brands on Liverpool ONE and its visitors. I’m dedicated to maintaining Liverpool ONE’s success and ensuring it remains an exciting and attractive destination.

Additionally, I have recently engaged with Regeneration Brainery, a non-profit aspirational academy that works with young people from underrepresented backgrounds. I find this particularly rewarding as it aligns with our broader objectives at Liverpool ONE and my commitment to fostering diversity and opportunity within the industry.

What aspects of your role do you find most rewarding?

In addition to working with the Regeneration Brainery, another aspect of my role I find rewarding is getting to see the direct results of our strategic decisions, especially when I see shoppers carrying bags from brands that we recently introduced to Liverpool ONE. It’s a visual confirmation that we’re enhancing the customer experience and that our choices resonate with our visitors.

It’s incredibly fulfilling to witness the success of our initiatives with direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands, particularly when they launch pop-ups and create palpable excitement – like queues around the block. These moments showcase Liverpool ONE as a trendsetter and innovation hub within the retail sector. I take great pride in contributing to a space that not only drives commercial success but also fosters community engagement and enjoyment. Watching people enjoy their time here, whether they’re shopping, dining, or taking part in events, reaffirms the impact of our work.

My full-time presence at Liverpool ONE allows me to really get involved in this environment, building a deep connection with the community and the place itself. Ultimately, the most rewarding aspect is knowing that I play a role in creating an appealing and dynamic destination that people choose to visit, shop, and enjoy, enhancing both the local economy and Liverpool’s overall vibrancy.

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