THE NEW manager of Leamington’s Royal Priors shopping centre is determined to continue the work of her predecessor.
Sarah Jones has taken over the reins of centre manager follows the sudden death in September of former manager Gerry McManus whose passing shocked the town’s business community.
Sarah, who makes the step up from operations manager, a position she held for nearly five years, is looking forward to the challenge.
She said: “I was fortunate enough to work with Gerry for almost five years and I’ll always be forever grateful for what he taught me.
“As well as being a fantastic person to learn from about how to run a highly successful shopping centre, he was a friend and mentor and taught me a number of important life lessons that I’ll always take with me.
“Although I’ve become centre manager under sad circumstances, I’m reassured by the fact that Gerry very much believed in me as a person and my ability as operations manager. I hope that he’d be proud of me.”
Sarah was appointed operations manager at the start of 2013 but her connection to the centre stretches back further.
As a 16-year-old, while doing her A-levels, she started working part time in Druckers – now Patisserie Valerie. After completing her exams, she went full time and was soon promoted to store manager.
After a year in the busy café, the operations manager position became vacant and Sarah grabbed the opportunity. “I knew Gerry and the centre management team well as they would regularly visit what had then become Patisserie Valerie. When I found out about the opening for the position I had to go for it.”
Over the past five years, Sarah has been an integral part of an award-winning centre management team. She also completed the BCSC Diploma in Shopping Centre Management in 2015.
And recently Sarah has balanced her role as operations manager at the Royal Priors with 11 months as acting centre manager at nearby Regent Court.
Combined with her on-the-job experience and lessons learned through the mentorship of Gerry, Sarah believes she is well placed to take on the challenge of running a successful shopping centre.
She said: “Everything I’ve done professionally to this point has prepared me to be able to take on this role.
“I’ve had two great teachers in Gerry and deputy centre manager Les Watkins and I’m excited about what comes next.
“Going forward I’m keen to carry on Gerry’s legacy and continue to provide customers with the best possible retail experience.
“I’ll also be working closely with town centre groups to ensure that both Royal Priors and Leamington Spa thrive for years to come.”