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Popular manager of Limerick shopping centre to step down after nearly 20 years



Popular manager of Limerick shopping centre to step down after nearly 20 years

AFTER almost 20 years at the helm of one of the city’s most popular shopping centres, Roger Beck is starting a new journey in 2024.

New Years’ Eve will bring to a close a career spanning more than five decades in the hospitality trade as the general manager of Parkway Shopping Centre retires.

“I’ll be 66 next April, it’s no secret. I just feel like I want to take a little break. It’s a long time. Thirty of these years were in the hotel business, so I’ve probably done 70 years work in 50 years if the truth be told,” he laughed.

Roger has spent 19 years at the suburban shopping centre, but 20 Christmas seasons.

“This place has been very good to me. The tenants have been very good to me. The staff who are here have been very good to me,” said Roger.

“I hope I have left the Parkway Shopping Centre in as good a way as I had found it,” the manager added.

It’s fair to say the world of retail has significantly changed from when Roger took on the role on December 8, 2004.

“We’ve had a lot of change in tenancies, a lot of change in the shops. Shop styles have changed. They have become a lot more modern. What people seek has changed – things like mobile phones, communications have made our lives completely different,” he said.

Many people would have felt that the growth and sprawl of shopping on the internet would have sought the death-knell for traditional retail.

While it’s undoubtedly had an impact, Roger remains pragmatic about the future of shopping centres like his.

“Retail is as strong now as it was then, but there is a huge amount of money also being spent online. It’s always a threat to retail. Retail has to face up to this all the time. It needs to change and adapt, keeping itself relevant.”

One of the things Roger wanted to see when he began work at the Parkway was to have catchy music on the tannoy in the mall, something which remains important to this day.

“I love to see people walking up the mall and singing along to the background music we play in the centre without even realising it! It’s almost like you go into a karaoke bar and everybody sings along as they know the song,” he said. “I love to see people happy coming into the place and music is part of that.”

For Roger, the Parkway Shopping Centre is nothing without the people.

“This whole story comes back to people. It’s all about people, it’s liaising with people, it’s working with people, it’s reacting with people, it’s looking after people. It’s all about people, and that’s what has made this place special,” Roger added.

Outside of work, Roger is well-known for his love of the barbecue.

So there’s no doubt one of the first things we’ll see him doing is cooking up a storm.

“I don’t think there’s anybody in Limerick who hasn’t heard me talk very boringly about that over the years. I am going to spend more time doing this. It’s what I love to do,” he smiles.

Having learnt his craft on the ‘barbie’ from friends in America, up to now, he’s been too busy to impart his own knowledge and experience.

Now he wants to do this.

“It was back in the days when barbecues in Ireland were sausages and burgers. They taught me about low-slow cooking, smoking. They introduced me to a whole side of food we didn’t have in Ireland. They’ve taught me an awful not – for nothing.

And I want to pay some of that forward,” he said.

“I believe it’s a great way of life and I’d love to pass that onto the next generation,” Roger added.

His enthusiasm for barbecues is infectious.

“There is nothing you cannot cook on a barbecue. You can make soup on it, you can cook turkey on it, you can cook ham on it, make stews and casseroles,” he said.

Interestingly, you can smoke water and ice on it, he added.

In January, Tipperary man Liam Gleeson will take over as manager at Parkway.

Asked what advice he’d impart, Roger said: “Listen to the staff who know the place inside out. Don’t change the place overnight. Build a relationship with our customers and tenants. That’s what makes the Parkway what it is.”

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