Interview with James Turner for Retailnet.pl

Inverview 30.07.2023


  1. When you look back at the beginnings of Sierra Balmain, what do you see?

Very naive but enthusiastic and optimistic young guys. Determined to build a business that could withstand time. We had no idea at that time that we would be in Poland or what the shape of the business would be. 


  1. Looking back at the past 20 years, what are the key highlights and achievements that the company is most proud of?

We have achieved a lot of things in a management and development sense, but I think the thing that stands out are our people. They are our track record. Above anything else we have had a lot of fun along the way and as people have pointed out, everyone always seems to be smiling. When you life is work and work is life, I think that is harder to achieve than many people think.


  1. Can you share some insights into the company's growth trajectory? How has it managed to maintain steady growth over two decades?

If there is one thing I could say, it is consistent quality. Again, this is mostly about the team. Looking through that though, we have had two huge economic shocks over the past 20 years - the global financial crisis and of course the C-19 pandemic. These are moments that test a team and its quality and in both circumstances our business grew from then. As Warren Buffet said, “when the tide goes out, you can see who is wearing swimming trunks”  


  1. The market and technology have changed significantly since the company's inception. How has the company stayed innovative and relevant in the face of such rapid change?

We believe in a simple tenet - human behaviour is constant and technology has not added one new behaviour, but it has changed the way that we do things we have always done. Our business is in community real estate and our communities carry their computers in their pocket. Entertainment, leisure, lifestyle and culture are elements that we promote and technology chimes with that. Online shopping hasn’t decimated physical as many people had predicted. In fact technology has brought us closer to the shoppers as we can market and communicate with them. Our communities are both online and in person. That is pretty special.


  1. Corporate social responsibility has become increasingly important to consumers and stakeholders. How has the company integrated sustainability and social impact initiatives into its business practices?

We have just released our first ESG report, which we are proud of. The interesting thing about writing a report is that you are writing about what you do, how you do it and what you’re values are, not what you want them to be. We have always upheld very high standards on the environment, our social obligations and of course governance. The latter is very important and often glossed over, but our clients trust us with over €1 billion of their assets and if we didn't have robust systems and integrity, that would disappear very quickly.


  1. Could you share some of the company's future plans and vision for the next decade?

Only the next decade? :) A key component of our business model is longevity. We have an amazing group of leaders in the business each of whom has got the youth and experience to keep our ethos and principles alive and growing. We are adapting - and in many cases, leading - trends in the community real estate sector. We are building alliances with other developers / investors, tech businesses and and other innovative concepts in the non-retail space to combine experience and knowledge to keep creating the future. Who knows where that will end, but if you are not doing, thinking and acting, your relevance will fade.