The Scotsman Big Interview: Ocean Terminal centre manager Dennis Jones

The Big Interview: Ocean Terminal centre manager Dennis Jones

He entered the shopping centre industry in his native US nearly four decades ago, after completing a degree that saw him major in economics.

I think Porta is actually a better name for us,' says Jones. 'Its short, its easy 'to remember.' Picture: Lisa Ferguson.

It was a path Ocean Terminal centre manager Dennis Jones hadn’t planned to pursue, but he took to the sector immediately, finding it “exciting” and involving a host of aspects.

“A lot of people don’t even know it’s a business… [they think] it’s just a facility and you go there and shop,” he states, but on seeing behind the curtain he realised it had many component parts including retail, lettings, marketing and asset-management needing to work in unison.

“I liked it – so I stuck with it,” explains Kansas-born Jones, who has led the complex in Leith since it welcomed its first shoppers in 2001 (“I don’t think I even had any grey hair then,” he laughs), on a site previously occupied by Leith’s Henry Robb shipyard.

Ocean Terminal, home to shops including Debenhams, Waterstones, and Boots, and restaurants like Nando’s and Pizza Express, now has more than 4.3 million visitors passing through its doors every year – and is preparing to rebrand as Porta in October.

The name change was unveiled in November to some scepticism (“sounds ridiculous” was one response) but how would Jones characterise the reception? He says it has been positive overall, although he acknowledges that there are always some people resistant to change.

“I remember, when Ocean Terminal first opened, a lot of people didn’t like the name then,” he states, speaking in the centre’s brightly coloured Porta suite located among its retail outlets. “I think Porta is actually a better name for us, to be honest. It’s short, it’s easy to remember, I like it a lot.”

Porta means “gateway” in Italian, and the new moniker comes as the shopping centre pivots towards becoming a premium outlet destination in what few could deny is a changing – and challenging – retail market. . . . .

. . . continue reading the interview on The Scotsman website

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