New boss of Gunwharf Quays plans to build on success

Ian Hart Centre Director at Gunwharf Quays  Picture: Emma Judd.

Ian Hart Centre Director at Gunwharf Quays Picture: Emma Judd.

‘I found God’s call after a freak sausage machine injury’

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THE new man in charge of Gunwhart Quays says he wants to make it even more of a success than ever.

Ian Hart has taken over from Peter Emery to become the retail and leisure complex’s centre director.

He has 25 years of retail experience, beginning his career at Marks & Spencer before moving on to more senior roles at Arcadia and then being in charge of the UK and Ireland operation of the Nuance Group, which operates in UK airports as well as Center Parcs.

‘Fundamentally we have been a very successful operation in the last 12 years we’ve been here, and we continue to believe we can be an extremely successful, growing centre,’ he said.

‘We’re catering extremely well for local people but also for those coming from further away, as we’re a destination, but we want to encourage more people from further away to come here.’

Mr Hart, 52, said he wants top-of-the-range luxury stores to move into the complex, to attract affluent people from further afield into the city.

‘We have a few of those already,’ he added.

‘But we want more of them.’

But he insisted there would be a place for stores such as Marks & Spencer, which has a Gunwharf Quays outlet, as they are ‘destination’ shops that people want to visit.

‘We want to pull people into the area, which will be good for us but also good for Portsmouth as well,’ he said.

‘We can’t operate in isolation – we’re part of the community.’

Mr Hart said he wants to carry on the centre’s work in promoting the city as a destination in which to live and work, and will remain involved with the Shaping the Future of Portsmouth initiative, which seeks to do just that.

‘Portsmouth is a great city, but it could be exceptional,’ Mr Hart added.

The changes to Gunwharf Quays will be swift, as the centre is going through a rebranding process to keep its image current.

But he added: ‘When you arrive somewhere and everything is dirty or broken it’s easy to make quick changes.

‘Here it’s much more difficult.’

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