Sunderland’s showpiece shopping centre, The Bridges, has recruited a new technical services manager as it looks to bounce back from the ravages of the pandemic.

The senior management role has gone to the vastly experienced Paul Stewart, who has held similar roles at both the MetroCentre and Eldon Square.

And he has joined a leadership team tasked with the challenge of restoring momentum to the city’s indoor shopping centre buffeted by the closure of several shops and major department store, Debenhams.

The centre though remains the key destination for shoppers in Sunderland and boasts a selection of leading high street names alongside a diverse range of smaller, independent stores.

Paul will report directly to the Bridges centre director, Karen Eve.

His responsibilities will be to ensure overall compliance of the centre with health and safety and building regulations.

He will also take overall charge of maintenance at the sites and oversee all elements of the technical operation.

Paul joins the Bridges from property developers, intu, where he developed his experience at both the Metrocentre and Eldon Square.

Before that, he spent five years in the Middle East where he worked on a series of major developments including a hospital project in Dubai and the construction of the Four Seasons Hotel in Bahrain.

“Paul couldn’t be joining the business at a better time,” said Karen, who only took the helm at the Bridges herself in November last year.

“The centre has now fully re-opened and, as lockdown restrictions continue to ease, we fully expect shoppers to rediscover the pleasures of a trip to the shops.

“Paul will be an asset to the team as he brings a wealth of experience to the role along with an enthusiastic, can-do attitude.”

Following his appointment, Paul, who is originally from Washington, said: “I’m really excited to be joining the Bridges under Karen.

“She has great ideas and a clear vision for the centre and I am really keen to be part of that.”

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