CYPRUS. CTC-ARI Airports has created an exclusive in-house spirits & wines offer to bolster its destination merchandise range amid an expansion of its Kypriaka – ‘Products of Cyprus’ – store concept. The concept, a staple of the Cyprus Airports Duty Free shops at Larnaca and Pafos airports, managed by CTC-ARI, aims to encapsulate the traditions, tastes and aromas of the island.

Among the products created in partnership with local manufacturers are XO and VSOP brandies, plus Cyprus’ first craft gin.

The specially developed VSOP brandy (above) and XO below already feature in the top five best sellers in the Cognac/brandy category at Cyprus Airports Duty Free

CTC-ARI Business Development & Innovation Manager Sergio Sergios told The Moodie Davitt Report: “There is a lot of demand from shoppers for products that cannot be found on the local market, and that especially includes destination goods. So we have moved to create these products ourselves. We have developed and continue to explore exclusive partnerships with local producers across categories. We are bringing innovation to the category and it fills a gap.”

The initial spirits range includes Cyprus XO Brandy matured in Commandaria casks; Cyprus VSOP Brandy matured in Commandaria casks; St. Helena Commandaria wine and most recently Iris Blue Crafted Cypriot gin, all exclusive to the travel retailer.

“The products are all made and bottled in Cyprus,” said Sergios. “The recipe for the gin carries only Cypriot herbs and that what’s people want: a scent of Cyprus when they open the bottle.

“The brandies are finished in local Commandaria casks. These have been on shelf for four months, sales are strong and the feedback from consumers and drinks experts is very positive.”

Iris Blue gin: The first Cypriot craft gin according to CTC-ARI, newly launched as a channel exclusive

Within its category the VSOP is number three in sales terms with the XO already at number five. Sergios says: “Gin is booming so we have high hopes for this product too. We aim for a mid-range price so it makes a statement about quality but is not too high. The gin is priced at the mid-point for a 70cl bottle. It has only entered the store but will be supported by tastings, special displays and our in-house marketing. Once we develop sales we will see if there is interest in other markets for our products.”

The Iris Blue launch is supported by tastings and an in-store campaign

Soon the destination offer could be boosted by additional items in cosmetics and fashion & accessories, as well as food from Cyprus, said General Manager Andrew Baker.

“Kypriaka is a well-established concept for destination goods. In our new Larnaca store we will give it added space, from around 110sq m to 160sq m once the store is complete.

“We know there is a market out there for these goods and that they can help sell Cyprus as a destination. These products add value and are very distinctive. You cannot get them downtown and you cannot in any case compete with the cheaper, mass market souvenirs you get in other places.

“If you’re an airport retailer you have to be distinctive, compelling and focus on quality. The VSOP and XO are on the right track. We did a blind tasting of the brandies with experts who really rated it very highly. We test continuously on the shop floor and it is having an impact. We get great feedback from Russian consumers in particular, who love products with a hint of Cyprus.”

The St. Helena Commandaria wine line is a further addition to the destination range

The expansion and store upgrade will boost the category’s profile further, added Baker. “We think the design of the shops with their courtyard feel will help create a great Sense of Place, put Cyprus on the map and tell people a story once they arrive into our shops.

“Destination goods, which include liquor, food, confectionery, gifts and other souvenirs is around 15% of total business. That can grow even more in the new walk-through shop as travellers have to pass this new zone on their way to gates.”

As reported, a new beauty area opened in October as part of the first phase of the Larnaca Airport walkthrough store. Next to come will be liquor and sunglasses (late January); tobacco, confectionery and destination goods (April) and luxury by early August next year. The overall store investment will be US$12 million.

*Aer Rianta International sponsors the regular Sense of Place column in The Moodie Davitt eZine. Click here for the latest column in the series.