Careers: What's it really like inside - Bluewater

The queues for the post-Christmas Next sale at Bluewater started at 1am. Was it handbags at dawn?

An air of calm pervades at even the most stressful times of year here, so our queue of more than 2000 people acted in a dignified fashion.

Bluewater attracts 27m visitors a year.

- How do you come up with new marketing ideas to attract more?

Our theory is that marketing is too important to be left to marketers alone. We have more than 300 retailers, all with ideas we can learn from and evolve. And as keen shoppers, we put ourselves in customer' shoes.

- You have celebrity appearances at the centre. Have you met any stars?

Yes. David Hasselhoff had a quick nap on our sofa before a book signing and Jayne Torvill switched on the Christmas lights from the ice rink.

- What is the main marketing challenge you face?

The centre set a new benchmark for retail and leisure destinations when it opened in 1999 and we are aiming to take it to the next dimension.

- Is there a dress code?

Business dress Monday to Thursday. Friday is smart/casual.

- What are the hours like?

Officially 9am-5.30pm, but the earliest we've been in is 5am for a live Capital Radio broadcast.

- What's it like for training?

Fantastic - a mix of business and personal growth courses. The company is good at recognising and growing talent from within, so people move up through the ranks.

- What about the salary and benefits?

Competitive salary and tailor-made benefit package to suit your lifestyle.

- Does the marketing team get discounts in the shops?

Our staff discount card offers 10% off in selected stores. Other perks include free parking, parkland and lakes, restaurants and bars, a 13-screen cinema and a day spa.

- Does the marketing team socialise outside of office hours?

Yes. Our 'locals' are on-site, from pizza to tapas.

- Are there any downsides?

Being surrounded by 330 of the best shops in the country, it's easy to blow your salary. Also, we have to drive to get here and home.

- Is there anything particularly interesting about your office?

We have a great little area with a couple of sofas, where people can gather for a drink on a Friday afternoon and mull over the week.

FACT FILE

- More than 8000 staff work in Bluewater's stores; four marketers are based at the centre.

- The centre is owned by international property group Lend Lease.

- Shams Maladwala is head of marketing at Lend Lease Retail; Bluewater's marketing manager is Linsey Wooldridge.

- Lend Lease Performance Retail is based at 19 Hanover Square, London W1S 1HY.

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