UK. Bristol International Airport has selected WDF as its new tax and duty free concessionaire, subject to Autogrill board approval, The Moodie Report can reveal.

WDF will drive an ambitious expansion of the airport’s core duty and tax free offer, culminating in the opening of a major new walkthrough store in May 2010. The retailer will also operate a 1,100sq ft specialist store at the airport.

WDF headed a shortlisted field of four travel retailers – including incumbent The Nuance Group, Aelia and Harding Brothers – to snare the seven-year contract, which commences on 1 November 2009.

Bristol International Airport CEO Robert Sinclair (left) shakes hands on the agreement with WDF Retail and Logistics Director Fred Creighton, while a delighted Bristol International Airport Head of Retail Simon Preece looks on

“This is the most exciting and significant retail opportunity at Bristol International Airport since we opened the new terminal in 2000,” Bristol International CEO Robert Sinclair told The Moodie Report during a briefing at the airport.

“With WDF we feel we are bringing to Bristol a world-class duty free operator, which we are very excited about.”

The airport worked with leading UK consultant The Design Solution to devise the walkthrough opportunity, which will reshape the terminal in coming months.

The concession gain is especially important to WDF as it represents the retailer’s first new business success since it became part of the Autogrill group in early 2008.

Before: This whole general area will be converted into a state-of-the-art walkthrough store by spring 2010

After: An artist’s impression of the entrance to the new walkthrough duty and tax free store

WDF believes its expertise in core categories such as cosmetics, plus the footfall benefits of the pioneering walkthrough element, will drive penetration and average transaction values at Bristol International Airport to new heights

The Moodie Podcast
‘The Best of the West’ – Bristol International Airport Head of Retail Simon Preece talks about joining forces with WDF

WDF Retail and Logistics Director Fred Creighton said: “We’re very excited. The airport’s values are very much aligned with ours. As a partner they are committed to growth and to a great customer experience.”

Creighton added: “We will be building on all learnings from locations such as [Heathrow] T5 and some of our specialist concept stores in airports such as Glasgow.”

He said the main store would feature a particular focus on the “˜content-ainment’ concept that has proven so successful at other WDF locations such as Heathrow and Manchester airports, as well as extensive high-profile promotion activity.

At 10,000sq ft, the new duty and tax free store will be some +40% bigger than the existing Nuance-run shop. Local products will be showcased as part of a strategy to promote the “˜Best of the West’ (Bristol International is the major gateway to England’s South West), capitalising on the region’s reputation for quality food and drink.

The Collection will feature a premium-focused, complementary offer to the tax free range in the main store

The enhanced retail offering is part of an ambitious redevelopment of Bristol International Airport

The specialist store, dubbed “˜The Collection’, will offer luxury accessories, including handbags, sunglasses, watches and jewellery. This will be located in the space currently occupied by the Nuance-run fashion outlet.

Creighton said he was confident that the introduction of a walkthrough store, allied to other innovations, could significantly increase penetration and average spend per head, the latter by as much as +10-15%.

He noted: “The profile of the passenger is so important here… it represents the highest disposable income [in any UK airport] outside Heathrow.”

Head of Retail Simon Preece told The Moodie Report (click on The Moodie Podcast icon for more comments): “We’re going to build a world-class duty free shop at Bristol International Airport and we’re really looking forward to that. It backs up our commitment to improving the passenger experience at the airport and to improve retailing – so we’re delighted.”

Sinclair said the competitive nature and high quality of the bids had justified the decision to go to tender amid the global financial crisis. And he expressed confidence that the timing would be further justified by improving traffic results. “We are seeing passenger volumes now pretty much back to 2008 levels… and we feel we are very much through the worst,” he said.

In a statement Sinclair added: “The new tax and duty free store is one of a number of key projects that we have been undertaking this year to significantly improve the passenger experience. This includes investing £10 million on the construction of a new pier to reduce reliance on buses to transfer passengers between aircraft and the terminal building, and other related terminal improvements.”

WDF Chief Executive Mark Riches said in a statement: “This is an excellent result for us and we are delighted that we will be introducing our World Duty Free and Collection brands to Bristol International Airport, subject to Autogrill board approval.

“We will work in close partnership with Bristol International Airport to create a flagship store and a tailored retail offer for its passengers. The customer is at the heart of everything we do and we are passionate about delivering unbeatable value, outstanding product choice, exciting store environments and world-class customer service.”

WDF operates 80 tax and duty free stores in 21 UK terminals.

The ACI Airport Business & Trinity Forum, Macau, China, 23-25 September


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