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Meadowhall: Transforming communication for over a decade

Discover how connecting staff and tenants has been crucial to Meadowhall’s success over the past decade.


Connecting staff and tenants via Mallcomm has been crucial to Meadowhall’s success over the last decade. 

In 2014, Meadowhall shopping centre in Sheffield became one of the first commercial real estate companies in the UK to use Mallcomm to connect its 300 tenants and their associated staff. Ten years on it continues to revolutionise how Meadowhall communicates with them and is also used to identify new business opportunities. At the end of last year, our CEO, David Fuller-Watts sat down with Mark Bruce, Retail Director of Meadowhall to reflect upon this decade of collaboration and growth. 

“Back then the world was different,” explains Mark Bruce. “My team spent most of their days delivering memos into stores and sending emails out, the vast majority of which bounced back.” 

He describes Mallcomm as the perfect solution to this challenge and says it proved itself immediately. “Within the first six months, we saw an immediate uptick in engagement from the tenants. The resource savings were just vast. All of a sudden, my team could communicate with the click of a button rather than losing days and days delivering memos. And it was trackable. It really did revolutionise how we worked.”

Breaking down barriers to improve the tenant experience

Most importantly, it broke down barriers between landlord and tenant. “All of a sudden, we were overly communicative, being very transparent and giving retailers all the information they needed to help them operate their stores. The returns were substantial,” says Bruce. 

Meadowhall targeted two user groups. “We knew that staff were going to be interested in two things – discounts and jobs – so had to get that as a compelling offer within the app. We were very fortunate that the vast majority of retailers saw the sales opportunity in offering that discount, so we got huge engagement and uptake in terms of discounts. The jobs were another opportunity for us as well.” 

meadowhall shopping centre

“Store management just wants to know what’s happening on the ground. They want to be kept up to date with performance events and local activities – all the things that are going to affect the way they manage their branch,” he says.

From 300 relationships to 6,500

Both groups connected immediately. “Within a couple of weeks, we had probably six and a half thousand users, which we knew was pretty much everybody, engaged in the platform, which was beyond our dreams.” 

Importantly it connected not just the tenants but store staff that the centre hadn’t been able to engage previously. “It’s a window into the retailers where previously we were struggling to communicate with tenants,” says Bruce. “We had no way of communicating with the retail staff on site [before Mallcomm]. If we were lucky we had 300 good relationships with 300 store managers. We never dreamed of having six and a half thousand relationships with everybody that works on site.” 

Transforming access for 1.5 million square feet of retail

Getting such broad engagement has enabled Meadowhall to better manage major operational projects – including the introduction of a new staff parking system and a major centre refurbishment.

The parking project saw Meadowhall move its 2,500 staff to a secure offsite car park that required registration to access. A clear way to communicate and manage the change was required. “It wasn’t the right thing to do to put on the back of a website,” says Bruce. “It needed to be a designated application for them to register.” 

“Now we have a situation where any new member of retail staff joins Meadowhall, they download the app, register their car in a couple of clicks and within a matter of seconds there’s an ANPR barrier that recognises who they are and gives them secure access.”

inside shopping centre

The Mallcomm app also helped Meadowhall manage a major refurbishment that was completed at the end of 2017. “Bravely, we decided we would refurbish the centre over 18 months out-of-hours without closing a single store,” says Bruce. “We had 80-100 pieces of machinery on site every night, a cleaning team every morning and then we’d reopen. We literally refurbished every inch of the scheme, which is 1.5 million square feet of retail.” 

Here the communication and the sense of partnership that Meadowhall had been able to develop through Mallcomm was important to managing the disruption. “We couldn’t have got through that project without the relationships that we have with the tenants and their trust in us that we would keep them informed every step of that journey.” 

“Running a project like that with memos would be very, very difficult but when you’ve got an app platform, and you can provide very clear, succinct and regular updates it makes it a lot easier to manage.”

From data to opportunity

Building trust and relationships with retailers has also made it easier for Meadowhall to collate information to help identify new opportunities. Bruce highlights the volumes of third-party food delivery from the centre as an example. “I was stood there in my office one day looking at the number of drivers and scooter riders coming in and thought ‘We need to understand the volume and how this is affecting how we operate’.” 

“We were able to gather data from our tenants very quickly because of that relationship and realised that this was a huge opportunity and that we were doing around 10% of our annual turnover off third-party food delivery operators.” 

That in turn has allowed the centre to better focus investment and returns with a designated third-party food delivery facility at the back of the shopping centre. “That enables our delivery companies to get closer to the building and get in and out faster, which means they’re more likely to accept orders from Meadowhall than they are from other locations.”

retail tenant using technology

The app’s ability to collect and collate data has also allowed more targeted pop-up and showroom space to drive interest within the centre, including a car showroom space. 

“We’ll have a retailer now take space from us and use it as a brand activation exercise,” says Bruce. “They typically put beacons around the vehicle so they can monitor dwell time for different types of models within the unit and collect that data.” 

He cites the success of a Mercedes pop-up hosted by the centre in 2022. “Mercedes knew very quickly that it was the right brand for Sheffield, which model was going to be the most popular – even down to colour – what their demographics were going to be and where they needed to target their audience.”

Mallcomm still central to communication a decade on

Meadowhall might be ten years on from its original implementation of Mallcomm, but Bruce says the app remains as central to delivering great tenant and customer experiences as ever. “We collect data on the whole relatively simply, and we share it very, very quickly.” 

And he says the fundamentals remain the same. “It’s about building that community and having that relationship and trust with the retailers.”

Watch Mark Bruce’s video interview with David Fuller-Watts, CEO of Mallcomm in full below