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5 minutes with 12th February 2024

Here we meet David Pierotti, General Manager at Workman-managed Silverburn, one of the largest shopping centres in the UK, with responsibility for 150 retail and food & beverage units on an 85-acre site with a 1m sq. ft mall.

David has responsibility for day-to-day management of the centre, owned by Eurofund Group and Henderson Park Capital Partners, which has been under Workman management since March 2022.

David has been General Manager of Silverburn since the centre opened in October 2007. Since then, it has won numerous awards, including becoming the only shopping centre in the UK to win Revo Large Shopping Centre of the Year four times.

What three words describe Workman?

Dynamic, collaborative, innovative.

Tell us about your role, and how you are putting your skills to their best use?

I have a strong retail background, which assists me greatly. In many ways, I run Silverburn almost like a big department store, with numerous concessions.

I’ve always worked with a view to common sense. And because I’ve been in the retail property business quite a while, I’ve tried a lot of different things to see how best to achieve a good result.

Strategically, the Workman team have been very supportive of my techniques. I’ve got people that I can touch base with to support me, and that has enabled me to do the best job that I possibly could do, with my own autonomy.

I always work smart: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Trackable. It’s not magic, it comes down to hard work and experience.

Today we have 150 onsite Silverburn staff, with duties ranging from security, cleaning, marketing, facilities management, and customer. In addition, there are nine of us within the Workman onsite property management team.

I believe that I’ve recruited the best team in Scotland. This is what I’m best at; recruiting a good team, keeping the team motivated and focused on what needs to be done and when it needs to be done by, according to our clients’ business plan and strategy.

People don’t ask my wife and I how are our kids, they ask us how’s Silverburn doing? And who’s moving into the old Debenhams? It’s such a privilege to manage this centre. It’s quite addictive.

What has been your standout Silverburn moment so far?

Silverburn’s 15th birthday was a special highlight in 2022, and with Eurofund as our new owner, 2023 was a fantastic year for Silverburn, with a record-breaking footfall exceeding 15 million visitors for the first time in its history, and double-digit sales growth.

We proudly welcomed renowned brands like Rituals, Sunglass Hut, White Stuff, and new F&B operators, including local premium restaurant Stàilinn Scottish Kitchen together with new offers by The Real Greek, and Bread Meets Bread.

These additions enriched the shopping and dining experience, cementing Silverburn’s position as the leading destination in Glasgow.

So another huge achievement was our record of £123,000 funds raised for numerous local charities in 2023.

How does Silverburn generate social value within its community? 

In 2007 we set up Silverburn Cares a multi-faceted corporate social responsibility strategy, through which we fundraise for charity, actively engage with the local community, and strive to be more sustainable.

The Silverburn onsite team feels a strong sense of duty to give back to local people, so community engagement has long been a core focus.

Some highlights in 2023 included:

  • £41,000 for Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity from our Flamingo Beach
  • £38,000 for Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity from their Christmas Hub.
  • £13,000 for Cash for Kids West Scotland with their Clyde 1 abseil.
  • £10,000 for Catherine McEwan Foundation, hosting their Santa bungee.

We also donated thousands of pounds worth of space to local schools and charities  to help raise awareness of their causes.

How do you hope to develop your role in the coming months and years?

Due to developments in leasing, which will see at least 12 new brands coming into the centre during the year ahead, I forecast that in 2024 we will smash our record annual visitor-number of 15 million.

The team and I have a passion for Silverburn, and we are really keen to evangelise the centre to the masses: 15 million visitors is good, but we know that we can do even better and become a 17-million-visitor shopping centre.

What change would you make to the wider property sector? And why?

If people are going to leave their homes and step away from online shopping to come to a retail destination, then the customer experience needs to be exemplary from start to finish.

Across the retail industry, I would like to see a greater focus on improved guest experience and customer care. At Silverburn, we start every day trying to treat visitors as we would wish to be treated ourselves.

What first led you into the property industry?

Having worked in retail management, I fell into retail property management – it was a natural progression.

I come from an Irish-Italian family, and a lot of the Italian community in Glasgow run fish and chip shops. From a young age, I worked in my father’s fish and chip shop and then continued as his business grew to a few restaurants.

I then moved into retail, starting as a Saturday boy with Burton Menswear. Instead of going to university, I took up a trainee manager’s position, before becoming their youngest store manager in the UK aged 18. Within Burton, I was promoted to regional manager, then national manager, before working with Debenhams and then British Home Stores.

It was at this point that I was approached by the chief executive of Capital Regional, who recruited me to manage his new shopping centre in Falkirk, which I did. It smashed all records; sales footfall, occupancy, car parking.

Then in 2007, when Silverburn was planned, I jumped at the chance to lead the centre management of the new retail and leisure destination.

What are your spare time pursuits?

I love travel. My brother has been in Abu Dhabi for 32 years, so my wife and I go to visit him in Abu Dhabi and travel to Dubai. We’re very lucky, we’ve been going there for about 25 years. Family is a big thing for me, I’ve got 78 cousins.

And with my Italian heritage, I’ve got a passion for Italy and go there most summers.

I also enjoy going to many different places to play golf, which I love. I am past Captain and 20-years-plus member of Fereneze golf club in Barrhead, on the outskirts of Glasgow and Paisley.

Football is another love of mine – I am a Celtic supporter. Celtic Park is my spiritual home, and the home of Celtic Football Club since 1888 – it is also known as Paradise.

What is your favourite building worldwide, and why?

The Burge Khalifa in Dubai – it is an amazing piece of engineering and also very beautiful. At 828 metres (2,716.5 ft), and 200-plus storeys, it is the world’s tallest building, with 160 habitable levels.

The experience of going inside it is an engineering masterclass. Developed by Dubai-based Emaar Properties PJSC, it has been described as a “global icon” by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat.

What three dinner party guests would you choose and why?

  1. Bruce Springsteen, for the music.
  2. Tiger Woods, for golf tips.
  3. Barack Obama, who is my hero.

See here for more on Workman’s Retail & Leisure Property Management Services.