Peter Todd, founder of Portus Retail, on how he got started in the property industry, his favourite television show and album, his number-one travel destination and the superpower he wishes he had.

Peter Todd

Peter Todd

How did you join the property industry?

I did a real estate degree. I chose it since it combined economics, law, human geography and commerce – all the things that had most interested me at school. My first job was in banking. My father believed I should try a “real job” rather than working in property. After four months, he accepted I really wanted to work in property and I have been in the industry ever since.

What does your job entail?

I am very focused on repositioning our assets to meet the challenges of an omni-channel retail world and ensuring we have the right merchandise mix and balance of non-retail use to be relevant to customers. The changes that have been happening over the past five years and that will come in the next five will make it a challenging but also really exciting time for retail real estate.

What do you like most about the property industry?

The people – I have made some amazing friendships through the industry. I also love the fact that it is an industry that so many people can relate to. It is a tangible industry – many people know and have had experience of being in or around many of the centres we manage and operate.

And what do you dislike most about it?

It is too slow to embrace and adopt change. Some of that is the natural inertia of real estate taking time to adapt; some of it is traditional thinking, jargon and an ‘old-school’ approach.

What would you change about the property industry?

New thinking and more radical ways of looking at changes that could be made are needed. If a building is no longer fit for purpose or lettable, it needs new thinking to repurpose it. I have too often seen owners hanging on to historical views of value when what they actually own is land, disguised as a building!

What barriers or challenges have you overcome?

Changing culture is the biggest challenge I have found in business, whether that is shifting the mindset in a management team or building a team to create a new approach to an asset strategy. It requires time, commitment and a lot of energy.

What are you most proud of in your career?

Working with and helping to build some amazing teams who have achieved some great results, investor returns and amazing experiential retail and leisure centres. Learning from failures so that we could build success is the thing I am most proud of.

What do you value in people?

Honesty, integrity and respect. A willingness to learn, accept and own mistakes (we all make them), working as part of a team and respecting the knowledge of all colleagues are the things I most value and like to see.

What advice would you give someone starting a career in the industry?

Do not be frightened to be radical or creative in solutions, and focus on the sectors that interest and excite you the most – it is easier to be good at something you love to do.