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Article > Lets Party!

Article kindly supplied by Steve Foley

Mike Clarke goes where nobody else does! He asked me to give a background on what I do & have done – I’m surprised that anyone would even be interested, however, readers may be surprised at ‘where I’ve been’ and Mike has an ‘exclusive’. Mike will now be affectionately referred to as ‘Scoop’.

Last Tuesday - 1st November, I turned into an OAP & so a reflective moment is OK I guess – I’m always forward looking to the next event or deadline that I rarely have the luxury of time to contemplate on, what has been, a busy life.

Music was my first love and I left Salford Grammar School to work for George Wimpey in the daytime & play guitar, harmonica and sing in various bands & acts for three years semi-professional - then turned ‘pro’ in 1967 when my trio were booked for a Summer season at Butlin’s Barry Island. (Do I detect smile from the Gavin & Stacey fans?).

I will accelerate with a summary – 1970’s musician, songwriter, recording studio owner, record producer, pop-video producer. Having bought a house in Sale when I first got married – I converted the basement into a recording studio for my song writing activities. That was until artists offered me money to use the studio – exit songwriter – enter businessman. ( I still write songs & music and never did get a proper job). I then developed a disused premises into Smile Recording Studio - a 24 track record production facility & commercial voiceover studio producing over 200 records, adverts, plays for Piccadilly Radio, music and sound FX for the Royal Exchange Theatre.

In the early 1980’s I was fascinated by new technology and became an Information Provider for BT – offering businesses text-style adverts on Prestel – the precursor to the Internet. In the course of that I proposed an integrated televisual/buy-from-home service to the Manchester Arndale Centre – this was in 1982 !!!! Eventually, after much discussion the Chairman called me in & said ‘ Steve, what you suggest is like Star Wars, but we would like you to design, build and commercially operate a radio station’. It was 15 years since I worked for someone else – besides which, they offered me twice as much as I could afford to pay myself – it was a ‘no brainer’. I made Arndale Radio profitable and improved the Arndale’s unfriendly image so in 1984 I was promoted to Head of Marketing for all the Arndale shopping centres which were morphed into P & O Shopping Centres. I served on the executive committee during a £25million refurbishment, reinvestment and relaunch programmes.

In 1988 it was time for change & I left P & O Shopping Centres to organise my first major conference The International Leisure & Retail Conference which examined the convergence of retail and leisure and the emergence of mega-malls wordwide. My keynote speaker was the late, great, James Rouse – leisure mall developer of disused waterfronts such as Faneuil Hall - Boston, Harborplace – Baltimore and Darling Harbour - Sydney Australia.


By 1992 we were languishing in the 3rd recession In my experience when I got a call from Singapore asking if I would address a conference on shopping malls. Having agreed, the organisers asked if I would also speak in Kuala Lumpur a few weeks later. This would prove life-changing. I arrived in Kuala Lumpur (KL) and thought I had stepped onto the set for the movie ‘Blade Runner’ – such was the seering temperature, strange culture and humidity. There were 150 cranes on the burgeoning skyline – it was to become my home for seven years.

In those years I was consultant & Centre Director for a new mall Ampang Point which we brought from ‘hole-in-the-ground’ to ‘fully-let’ mall. I developed the concepts for themed areas, space usage and tenant mix, personally negotiating 30% of the 200,000sqft GLA. The themed areas drove foot traffic laterally and vertically and included, London Arcade, Toy Town, Asean Designers and Festival Market. My concepts created smaller lettable units the mall achieved the highest psqft rates in KL – a technique I had used in Manchester Arndale to accommodate small-space users and franchisees. I was consulting to mall developers on design, tenant mix & space allocation – having developed the only ‘retail world’ database for Malaysia which lead to work with the Disney Company, IKEA, The Fish Shop – a NZ franchise operator plus work on Island Plaza in Penang Island on the west coast of Malaysia. In addition I was organising events such as the Asian Retail Show, The 1st Malaysian Home Show and the Ultimate Retail Show which included the 1st Internet/Electronic Retailing Conference in 1995.

North West Property Investors Xmas Ball

I returned from Malaysia in 2000 - skint – the economy had stumbled & I was experiencing my 4th recession. I cashed a pension, bought a wreck of a house in Moston, Manchester for £6200 and created my first buy-to-let. I did four in quick succession but like many investors had to juggle(read struggle). The crunch came when I was living in Blackley with 2 buy-to-lets and a bridging loan to convert my current house on Hollingworth Lake. Tenants at both houses did a runner – I had 3 mortgages plus a bridging loan and NO income.

I took a freelance design job with Moben Kitchens and proceeded to sell nearly £1m worth of kitchens on & off for a couple of years. In 2006 I returned to events and since then I have organised The B2L Summit, B2L - HMO Summit, Property Giants, Property Investors Ball, Internet Marketers Ball, Wealth Creation Summit, Entrepreneur Weekend, Internet Giants, Northern Property Network (with Bobby Gill) and many more. Most of my events have been in London but I’m pleased to say the latest gathering will be in Manchester on 3rd December for The Property Investors Ball – a fully catered one-day conference with great speakers and strategies for 2012, followed by a Networking Reception (1st drink on me ) and then Meet The Mentors Xmas Dinner.

Steve Foley

Just looking back I’m exhausted but looking forward as ever to the challenges of my dotage, still strumming a few tunes, organising music festivals, property, internet and wealth creation events, telling corny jokes and looking forward to your company. (Pay attention at the back & no snoring?)

Be Well!







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