Helen Kaminski - Chatswood Chase
Career Stories: Beth Westblade
Regional Mall Leasing Manager

A career in Mall Leasing brings challenges, opportunities and a great deal of variety every day. For Beth Westblade, that was all part of the attraction.

VCX: Can you talk us through your career journey so far?

BW: I started my career in the travel industry in 2008, first as a retail travel consultant before quickly transitioning into the wholesale space where I worked as Sales Manager for the next 10 years.

Starting in the travel industry was perfect for me. I’ve always loved travel and had been fortunate to spend four years living and travelling overseas before starting my career. I think travel can teach you so much: how to build new relationships; how to be resilient and creative; what your strengths and weaknesses are.

VCX: After 10 years in travel, what brought you to Vicinity?

BW: I loved the travel industry but it’s no secret it was hit hard during COVID-19. I was unfortunate to lose my role as I was about to head on parental leave which caused me to have a serious rethink.

Travel was all I’d known but I also knew the industry was unstable at the time and that I had a great selection of transferable skills that I was sure could be put to use in an equally fulfilling role elsewhere. So, I got out of my comfort zone and explored roles in other industries I was interested in which led me to retail and Mall Leasing specifically.

Vicinity’s national footprint of assets and long list of retail partners was a big attraction to me. With that kind of scale, I saw an opportunity to use my relationship building skills, creativity, and other transferable skills every day.

Mall Leasing NSW
Beth Westblade and the NSW Mall Leasing teamCredit: Vicinity Centres
VCX: What do you enjoy most about working in Mall Leasing?

BW: After a personal referral and doing my own research, I was confident my skills would translate into the Mall Leasing space. For those that don’t know, Mall Leasing is essentially a shorter-term lease (one day to one year) of space in common mall areas as opposed to dedicated store spaces (which we call inline stores).

Similar to my roles in travel and through my time overseas, relationship building is at the core of Mall Leasing and is hands-down the thing I love most about my job. I really enjoy hearing peoples’ stories and understanding their goals.

Developing strong relationships with our retailers, stakeholders and the community is crucial to success in Mall Leasing. The way I see it, every day is a new opportunity to work with a range of businesses, from well-established brands to start-ups, to help them find their perfect space in our shopping centres.

VCX: What might a typical day look like for you?

BW: A typical day in Mall Leasing can vary greatly. Much of the day is spent negotiating lease agreements with potential retailers and conducting meetings on site to learn more about their business.

We work closely with the centre team to ensure we align the needs of the retailer with that of the centre and the local community. Working collaboratively ensures that we achieve the right retailer at the right location which ultimately delivers the best outcome for all stakeholders.

We also spend a lot of time analysing market research. We’re really fortunate to have a strong market research and data capability at Vicinity which, when combined with our local market knowledge, allows us to stay ahead of current retail trends and able identify exciting new opportunities for existing and new retailers.

Luxe it Fwd - Chatswood Chase
Luxe it Fwd, Chatswood Chase SydneyCredit: Vicinity Centres
VCX: Do the brands or type of deals change according to different centre size or location?

BW: Absolutely, they do! The brands that we deal with in the Mall Leasing space can vary significantly based on the specific shopping centre and its location within a region.

Local demographics, market trends and the centre’s overall positioning all play a vital role in determining which brands are the best fit.

In some cases, we may work with well known international brands seeking to expand into new markets, while in others we support local Mum and Dad businesses trialling out a shopping centre for the first time.

It’s all another part of the job that I love, adapting to the unique characteristics of each shopping centre to create a diverse and vibrant retail environment that appeals to the local community.

VCX: Is there a Mall Leasing project you’ve most proud of working on?

BW: One of the deals I am most proud of is assisting the brand Luxe it Fwd in transitioning from a purely online offering into physical pop-up store.

While Luxe it Fwd’s online store was extremely successful, they recognised the value in providing customers with a physical experience and to be able to engage with their customers face to face – their primary objectives were to increase brand visibility and recognition, potentially leading to increased online sales as well.

Luxe it Fwd opened their first Pop-up in Chatswood Chase in February 2022. Since that time, they have run successful pop-ups in both Chadstone – The Fashion Capital and Emporium Melbourne and continue to expand.

They currently reside in the QVB as a semi-permanent tenant and in The Galeries and Chatswood Chase Sydney as short-term activations. Their goal is to move into a long-term lease in the QVB within the next 12 months and we will be working closely with our leasing teams to facilitate this.

Helen Kaminski - Chatswood Chase
Helen Kaminski, Chatswood Chase SydneyCredit: Vicinity Centres
VCX: In recent times we’ve seen a variety of new businesses take Mall Leasing space, from F1 cars to online travel companies. What do you think we might see in the next few years?

BW: The role of a Mall Leasing executive will shift over the next few years as the retail industry continues to evolve and respond to consumer behaviour and market demands.

In my opinion, there will be some changes to the way we operate with a key focus on sustainability, experiential retail, and mixed-use spaces.

In-line with Vicinity’s focus on sustainability, I think we will see an increased presence of brands that align with our sustainability goals, from eco-friendly products to carbon-neutral operations. A great example is our recent installation of EV fast chargers in a number of our centres – a move that aligns with global efforts to combat climate change and will in turn attract environmentally conscious individuals and investors to our centres.

I also think experiential retail will increase as retail spaces prioritise experience over transactions. This will create an opportunity for us to seek out unique brands who offer immersive and interactive experiences to provide a point of difference for our customers.

VCX: What do you enjoy most about working at Vicinity?

BW: The thing I love most about Vicinity is the culture and people.

Vicinity creates an environment where employees feel valued, respected, and fulfilled. It prioritises employee well-being, growth and development, creating a supportive environment where team members help each other succeed, share knowledge and collaborate effectively.

VCX: How do you achieve work/life balance?

BW: Vicinity fosters a culture that values work-life balance and recognises that it is not only beneficial for its employees but also contributes to a more engaged and productive workforce.

Work-life balance is an ongoing process for me. A few things that I focus on are time management and prioritising tasks effectively. Having a supportive team around me allows me to ask for help where necessary.

It is a fluid process that requires some tweaks and adjustments along the way, but a successful work life balance allows me to reduce stress, stay healthy and to pursue my passions and interests outside of work.

Inspired by Beth's story, explore careers at Vicinity.