WESTFIELD GROUP APPOINTS CHIEF DIGITAL OFFICER
1 May 2012
The Westfield Group (ASX: WDC) today announced the appointment of a Chief Digital Officer to oversee the development of the shopping centre group’s online and digital media strategy.
Kevin McKenzie, a digital media entrepreneur, has more than 16 years’ experience in internet, mobile and product development, and will lead the integration of Westfield’s shopping centres around the world with emerging digital technology as well as examine new business development opportunities.
The appointment to this newly-created position is significant for Westfield, one of the world’s leading listed retail property groups with 111 shopping centres valued at more than $60 billion which generate more than $40 billion in retail sales annually from more than 23,000 retailers.
Consumers make more than 1.1 billion shopping visits to Westfield malls each year in Australia, New Zealand, the United States and United Kingdom. Recently, the Group entered Brazil in a joint venture and plans are underway for two new, iconic retail projects in Milan, Italy, and at the World Trade Center site in New York.
These new projects follow the successful launch of two flagship shopping centres in London Westfield London in the west and Westfield Stratford City in the east, adjacent to the site of the London Olympics. These centres will attract more than 50-60 million customer visits this year and are expected to generate combined annual retail sales of around 2 billion. They join other iconic Westfield centres at Century City in Los Angeles, the San Francisco Centre, Valley Fair in San Jose, Garden State Plaza which serves the New Jersey/New York region and Westfield Sydney in downtown Sydney.
Westfield Group is unique in the shopping centre industry with a recognisable consumer brand-name. The famous red Westfield sign, introduced in Australia in the 1960s is now present in all markets and is a valuable asset in promoting the Westfield ‘experience.’ In Australia, approximately 70% of the population lives within a 30-minute drive of a Westfield mall and Westfield Group is now the largest mall operator in California, the world’s eighth largest economy. The Westfield brand has played a critical role in these markets and continues to do so at new projects like those in London.
The Co-Chief Executive of Westfield Group, Mr Steven Lowy AM, said the new appointment to lead Westfield’s digital technology team reflected a more concerted effort by the group to integrate its well-established and growing existing shopping centre business with new technology.
“We offer public Wi-Fi in many of our shopping centres to make it easy for the consumer to connect their smart phone and tablets for fast connectivity while they are on the go,” he said.
“We have already had success in integrating technology in all sorts of ways, including sophisticated car park guidance systems and the use of social media through Facebook and Twitter.
“We have also led the way in our industry with the introduction of ‘brandspace’ a new concept using advertising space and technology to create new and growing revenue streams for our business.”
Mr Lowy said that while retail was the dominant feature of Westfield malls the role of dining, entertainment and other lifestyle factors was increasingly important in making the centres exciting and vibrant places to visit.
“We are determined to do more in this area and use digital technology to make the entire experience easier, more fun and more interactive for our retailers and shoppers,” he said.
Mr McKenzie said: “With so many shoppers connected to their mobile devices while they are on the go, there has never been a better time to bring digital services to physical shopping environments.”
Mr McKenzie will report to Co-Chief Executive Officer, Steven Lowy, and will be a member of the Group’s Global Executive Committee. He will be principally responsible for setting and implementing the long-term digital strategy through each of Westfield’s markets.
He will join Westfield next month and will be based in San Francisco where Westfield will expand its office to focus on digital, social and mobile innovation in retail shopping. The San Francisco Bay Area is the global hub of innovation and the development of digital technology in northern California.
Before joining Westfield Mr McKenzie was the Founder and President of JiWire Inc, a digital location-based media channel composed of more than 40,000 public WiFi locations through partnerships with more than 30 leading wireless broadband providers and 200 location-based mobile applications. These serve venues such as airports, hotels, shopping centres and cafes, with more than 50 million unique users each month. JiWire connects audiences across multiple mobile devices from laptops to smartphones to tablets.
Prior to founding JiWire in 2003 Mr McKenzie was Senior Vice President, Shopping Services, with CNET Networks Inc, a pioneer in internet publishing and the world’s leading source of information and services for buyers, sellers and suppliers of technology and consumer electronic products.
Mr Lowy said the new appointment would give added impetus to the move already underway within Westfield Group to explore the potential for digital technology to contribute to a more efficient operation of the existing business, as well as add new ways to connect retailers with the connected, on-the-go shopper.
The Westfield Group (ASX Code: WDC) is an internally managed, vertically integrated, shopping centre group undertaking ownership, development, design, construction, funds/asset management, property management, leasing and marketing activities and employing over 4,000 staff worldwide. The Westfield Group has interests in and operates one of the world’s largest shopping centre portfolios with investment interests in 111 shopping centres across Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Brazil, encompassing around 23,400 retail outlets and total assets under management in excess of A$60 bn.
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