VMSD - April 2013 - (Page 72)
Interview by Robin Donovan
Wendy’s director of design for North America opens up about travel,
fitting in and retail design around the globe.
You’ve lived and worked in more than 60 countries. What was
your first big move?
There were few jobs in the U.K. when I graduated in the 80s,
so I moved to South Africa and designed shopping centers from
Johannesburg to Cape Town for a grocery chain called OK
Bazaars. In South Africa, grocery stores, not department stores,
act as anchors – OK Bazaars made more money developing
shopping centers than selling baked beans.
Were your family and friends surprised by your career choice?
No. I always had a bent for design. My father had a camper van
– we used to travel around Europe for nine weeks every year –
and I was always surprised at how inefficiently it was laid out.
What country has been your favorite place to work or live?
China. I’ve had my most enjoyable and my most frustrating retail
design experiences there. Eventually, everything gets done, but
it’s a very different mindset.
What’s the key to making it work in China?
It’s almost impossible to take a western design, plunk it down
in China and expect it to work. For example, you won’t get many
locals sitting around a bar. If a woman is sitting at a bar, she’s
considered a woman of ill repute. You have to do your cultural
During the recession, many companies
bought their customers with “2 for $10 or
$20” deals – when people try to get out
of that discounting, it’s very hard. People
say, “I came to you for the deal, not
because I like your environment!”
When and how did you first come to the U.S.?
I’d been a retail consultant in Hong Kong for three years when
the Hong Kong stock market crashed in 1998; all consultants
just stopped stone dead. I bought myself an around-the-world
ticket and started looking at potential opportunities. Limited
Brands made me the best offer.
You’ve since worked with Starbucks and T.G.I. Friday’s.
How did you end up at Wendy’s?
I was approached by a recruiter last year. When I looked at
what Wendy’s was doing, it wasn’t just a remodel, it was a
massive brand transformation. That’s always interested me –
making a fundamental shift in the emotional connection you
have with your customer. x
72 APRIL 2013 | vmsd.com
GEORGINA MILNE, NEW ALBANY, OHIO
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of VMSD - April 2013
VMSD - April 2013
From the Editor
Vmsd Editorial Advisory Board
Targeting the Cities
Body and Soul
The Domino Effect
VMSD - April 2013