Going the extra mile: The Moodie Report’s Associate Editor Rebecca Mann reports for duty at Ramstein Air Base, Germany

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The Body Shop enlists in the military

Pentrade Business Development Duty Free & Military Anthony Woodfield tells The Moodie Report more about The Body’s Shop entry into, and potential within, the global military channel

GERMANY. Earlier this week, on 21 September, the third and final phase of the Kaiserslautern Military Community Center (KMCC) was opened, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony that formally began operations at the largest base exchange in the world.

The anchor AAFES (Army and Air Force Exchange Service) store – which covers 165,000sq ft – was opened to customers at 9.00am. The outlet is located within a one-stop shopping mall that also features 43 different concept shops, all of which are tax-free, thanks to the Statute of Forces Agreement.

In addition, the KMCC features a hotel, numerous food & beverage outlets, and a four-screen cinema.

The facility has been designed as a one-stop shopping centre to serve the customer base of 53,000 service members, civilians and family members who live in the local area, in addition to the 285,000 transient visitors a year.

AAFES Commander US Army Major General Keith L. Thurgood formally opens the new base exchange store

Let them eat cake: shoppers maintain their energy levels with some seriously impressive patisserie

The opening ceremony drew a sizeable crowd of shoppers, all keen to explore the mall’s newest store, which stocks everything from beds to bicycles, cosmetics to Christmas trees.

The mall is already popular with base personnel. Over 117,000 customers visited within the first 27 days of the second phase opening, where in the first two days alone the food court served 11,055 customers.

“Welcome to this grand event. Today you are going to enter the latest and greatest AAFES facility ever built in our 114-year history,” declared AAFES General Manager Tom Gross at the opening ceremony.

“Firstly, it would be appropriate to thank everybody who has helped make this a reality over the last almost six years,” added AAFES Commander US Army Major General Keith L. Thurgood.

“That includes our German counterparts, our American counterparts, our great associates all across the globe, and our trading partners.

“We built this facility on behalf of you. You are our shareholders, and this facility is just one example of the great quality and service and infrastructure that we want to give to you, that matches the service that you are giving to the nation. This is your facility.”

He concluded: “I’m glad that I could be here today; I’m glad that you could come here and I think what you’ll find on the other side of this ribbon is what I would call a “˜wow’ experience. Because you will be wowed. Thanks for coming today, and enjoy this great shopping venue.”

The Pentrade team (left to right): Tom Reidel, Jung hyun Mamalígsa, Anthony Woodfield and Danny Nossent

A global first for The Body Shop
Among the innovative concept shops inside the mall is the world’s first The Body Shop store within the military channel.

Operated by Pentrade Duty Free Wholesaler, the stand-alone store covers 70sq m and has performed well since its soft opening in August, according to Pentrade Business Development Duty Free & Military Anthony Woodfield.

“This is something new for Pentrade and new for L’Oréal (which acquired The Body Shop in 2006), but I am confident of its success,” Woodfield told The Moodie Report.

“We are building a new retail operation from scratch, which is of course very challenging, but our first-month sales figures are in line with expectations, which is very encouraging, especially as the mall was not fully operational until now.

“We see good potential for further The Body Shop openings within the military channel, both within and outside Europe, either as a stand-alone or a shop-in-shop concept.”

He concluded: “We anticipate creating three flagship doors, of which Ramstein is the first. We are confident that with this store we are cementing the foundation of future business.”

The 70sq m stand-alone The Body Shop store is light, bright and welcoming, with an uncluttered, easy-to-shop interior

The Ramstein shop is light, bright and welcoming, with an uncluttered interior, clear signage and smiling sales assistants who know their stuff backwards.

Early best-sellers have been The Body Shop’s iconic Body Butters. Woodfield confirmed that the sku selection remained a work in progress and would be tweaked according to demand as time went by.

“Obviously we are listening to our customers, and compiling a list of product requests as and when we get them,” he explained. “The Body Shop and its products are known all over the world, and more often than not our customers know exactly what they are looking for.”

A selection of high-end fashion, accessories and beauty brands in the 165,000sq ft tax free AAFES outlet

Over dinner the night before the grand opening, Pentrade President Tom Reidel told The Moodie Report how his family-owned company – which was formed in 1979 as a duty free wholesaler – was keen to diversify into other fields such as the military.

“Our core business to date has revolved around duty free wholesaling for ship-chandlers and duty free outlets such as embassies and United Nations institutions, but with the next generation of family firmly on board, we are seeking out possibilities in other fields,” he explained.

“Over the years we have expanded the assortment of products we offer; now it is time to expand the type of (retail) activities we are involved in too, hence the appointment of Anthony Woodfield two years ago.

“He has vast and valuable experience of the military market; and his insider knowledge has already helped us to set up the first accounts.”

Certain embassy retail businesses in the Middle East and elsewhere have been identified as a further potential expansion opportunity.

Pentrade employs around 30 people and is on target to turn over approximately €40 million in 2009.

A true one-stop shop: the AAFES stores carries everything from face cream to fitness equipment

Sofa, so good: the AAFES base exchange even carries a wide selection of furniture, for virtually every household room

Iconic US brands such as Levi’s appeal to the predominantly American base personnel

Opening day crowds flock to discover the huge portfolio of products and brands at the largest base exchange in the world