After eight years of managing the London Underground’s retail properties for Transport for London, Mark Hitchcock wasn’t sure what he’d do job-wise upon returning to Auckland after his extended OE. But a job opened up at Auckland Transport (AT) and Mark soon found himself in a similar role, working in AT’s Infrastructure Division as a principal property specialist.
Mark leads AT’s Retail Strategy and its implementation programme, which largely includes developing shops, coffee/convenience kiosks, vending machines and ATMs. One of his more recent projects is the ‘click & collect’ grocery collection lockers around the AT Metro public transport network (rail, bus and ferry), which are proving popular with commuters.
“Transit retail is a rather unique creature,” says Mark.
“Public transport users are focused on their journeys, eager to make their timetabled departures. Anxiety levels are high – heads are down in phones – people aren’t there to shop! People will still make purchases; however, the fact that they are keen to get home or to work means they are unlikely to browse-shop.
“This customer profile has a whole different set of needs and wants from that of traditional retail, and it’s this aspect that makes the job interesting – whether it be working closely with ‘grab and go’ coffee tenancies or consulting to station design teams to embed successful retail formats into new infrastructure projects.”
Mark’s Bachelor of Property from the University of Auckland laid the foundation for his property career. The degree covered a broad range of topics, including property management, valuation, finance, construction and property development.
He loves the variety of work, people and places involved.
“I love seeing the end result of delivering a project or new initiative – the before and after snapshots, revealing positive change – like a new café opening its doors, for example,” says Mark.
The 32-year-old grew up on a dairy farm in Matamata, a far cry from the bustle of London and Auckland. He credits his upbringing with teaching him the value of hard work.
“My mum and dad taught me all about getting stuck in and working hard – and that ethic applies to whatever you’re into,” he says.