“I did my bit in order to protect the Luton community the best I could. Being at the heart of the community, you would expect nothing less” – the general manager of The Mall Shopping Centre is a Luton town centre Business Hero.
Roy Greening – who is Vice Chair of Luton Business Improvement District (BID) – has been working incredibly hard since COVID hit to create a safe environment for shoppers and the local community.
Roy also continued his other voluntary work during the pandemic, as Chair of Shopmobilty in Market Car Park, committee member of the Mall Nursery and Crèche, and member of the Community-Led Local Development (CLLD) project group which enables a range of European Social Fund projects and initiatives to be developed for the benefit of Luton communities. His passion and support for Luton Foodbank – The Mall’s 2020 Charity of the Year – also carried on. This is something Roy hopes to roll into 2021 while the need is still so high.
During the first lockdown, Roy motivated and inspired his team to work selflessly so that 14 stores could remain open in The Mall. Thanks to their efforts over the 12 weeks, more than 750,000 visitors were able to shop safely for essential items.
“We worked closely with Luton Council, Luton BID, Bedfordshire Police and other key stakeholders to plan the recovery out of the first lockdown – it was a huge partnership effort,” said Roy.
“Within the centre itself, we created a one-way system that ensured visitors could walk around in an orderly fashion to reduce risk. We also placed hand sanitisers on each entrance and prominent floor stickers to encourage people to adhere to the one-way system and maintain social distancing.
“We created an App which alerted the centre management team if we were getting close to capacity too. This was managed through a red, amber and green traffic light system which indicated when the centre was quiet, beginning to get busy or full. We had a plan for visitors to queue to get into the centre but, luckily enough, we have never had to close our doors and control entry.”
During the first two and a half weeks of the second lockdown in November, The Mall had 55 stores open – either trading as normal, running click and collect or providing food and beverage takeaways.
“We had over 300,000 visitors during this period,” added Roy. “I’m so proud of our team who continued to work to keep shoppers and the community safe. These colleagues sometimes had to deal with angry and abusive customers, but they remained incredibly professional at all times.”
Led by Roy, his dedicated team supported a number of organisations and charities including, NHS, Luton Foodbank, Level Trust, Keech Hospice and Love Luton. The Mall team also delivered appreciation packages to Luton & Dunstable Hospital, Bedfordshire Police, the Ambulance service and other keyworker organisations.
“COVID has been firstly a humanitarian crisis and secondly an economic crisis where everyone has had to change their behaviours and habits,” said Roy.
“I have never experienced anything like the challenges we have faced in 2020. It has affected me, my colleagues and the community in so many ways. We have all had to work harder and faster than ever before and adapt the way we do things day to day, and even minute to minute.
“I am so proud of my team. They have all stepped up and worked tirelessly since March. Now we have our peak trading period upon us, we need to step up again to ensure we support our businesses as much as we can in order for them to survive longer term. I would encourage the community to shop local to protect local jobs and businesses as we need you now more than ever before.”
Roy says COVID has affected the business hugely. Footfall has dropped significantly, and retail income has fallen – even with government grants for businesses, there are significant challenges for retail businesses to survive.
“I just want to give a huge shout out and thank you to my team at the Mall, to the retailers and operators that have battled through this period, and to Luton Council, Luton BID, Bedfordshire Police and other stakeholders that have assisted and guided us all. The Luton community have pulled together, as they always do, when the going got tough. Lastly, to our NHS – thank you for what you do every day for us all.
“We are in a tough period right now, but we need to do the right things to get through this. Follow the rules and with the vaccination being rolled out, I think we can see light at the end of this very long tunnel.”
For more information and to nominate a Luton town centre Business Hero click HERE.