CEO Survey: Scentre Group boss calls for better access to credit

Peter Allen, CEO of Westfield shopping centre owner Scentre Group. Picture: Hollie Adams for The Australian.
Peter Allen, CEO of Westfield shopping centre owner Scentre Group. Picture: Hollie Adams for The Australian.

Every year The Australian’s John Durie asks some of the biggest names in Australian business five key questions about what’s coming in the year ahead.

Here, in his own words, is what Scentre Group chief executive Peter Allen sees ahead in 2020.

You can read more from the CEO Survey.

How is your company affected by low-interest rates and what is needed to boost the economy?

We benefit from low-interest rates because our investors are looking for yield. Regarding what is needed to boost the economy, I think policymakers should be doing all they can to facilitate business access to credit so they can invest and grow.

What is the impact of government regulations on your company, including those applying to the financial sector?

About one-third of our retail stores across our portfolio are small-medium sized businesses, so we are conscious of the impact of business access to credit in the wake of the royal commission. Business access to credit is important to facilitate investment and growth.

What percentage of company revenues are spent on research and development, and how is your company using technology to improve performance?

We continue to invest to improve the customer experience in our Westfield Living Centres and across our digital engagement channels. We listen carefully to our customers and what they say about us so we can respond and make decisions that keep lifting the bar.

Our customer listening tool is called CX Loop and helps us remain customer-obsessed, as well as measuring our advocacy which in turn helps our local teams make the best decisions.

What are the three major policy issues facing the country and what should be done about them?

● Facilitating economic growth: Population growth and increased skilled migration are needed to bolster the skills and capabilities we need to grow the businesses that power our economy;

● The transition of our economy: Investment in skills and retraining is needed to help our workforce make the transition to a services-based economy; and

● Energy security and pricing: We need a long-term and stable energy policy to provide businesses with the confidence to invest and consumers with the most competitive pricing.

What are the major impediments to long-term growth facing your company and what can or is being done about them?

Notwithstanding the environment, we are long-term investors through the economic cycle. Our organisational challenge is to listen and keep pace with “liquid customer expectations” so we keep delivering what they want.

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