HONG KONG. China Duty Free Group and Lagardère Travel Retail began trading on Saturday at Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) with their new liquor & tobacco retail brand, Duty Zero by CDF.

As we revealed last week, the brand was introduced to business partners at a special preview event in Hong Kong. This followed the contract award last April.

CDF-Lagardère Company Limited will eventually take over eight stores in 3,400sq m of space. In the opening days, the business is centred around the T1 South Concourse store, which is the first to be rebranded.

Duty Zero: A new travel retail shopping brand is revealed at Hong Kong International Airport

Already the retailer has embarked upon several high-profile marketing campaigns inside the main store, around the terminal and on the Airport Express trains that connect HKIA with the city.

The campaigns centre around the retailer’s value offer, the most notable pledging to return HK$300 to shoppers who purchase over HK$2,000 at Duty Zero using UnionPay cards. Next year shoppers will also be able to pay using WeChat on their phones, the retailer has confirmed.

“We sought a way to re-define duty free through this new name and brand. Duty Zero is not only a new term of reference in duty free, but also a fresh start for our core business.” – Charles Chen, President, China Duty Free Group

In coming months (in parallel with incumbent DFS Group’s handover of the remaining core categories and a reconfiguration of space) CDF-Lagardère Company will phase in its new branding and upgrade the stores.

It has promised to introduce several new experiential concepts, including the widest assortment of Chinese liquor yet seen in travel retail. Other innovations include a single malts concept; the first Hennessy boutique at an Asia Pacific airport; an in-store VIP lounge; tasting bars; upmarket gourmet food items and more. The new concepts should all be in place by June next year before the retailer hosts its official Grand Opening.

Loud and clear: Duty Zero signage on the approach to the shopping level airside at HKIA…

…and in the airport concourse…

…with further prominent signage on the Airport Express

Speaking to The Moodie Davitt Report last week, China Duty Free Group President Charles Chen said: “It is in light of Hong Kong International Airport’s influence that we have chosen the platform of this contract to launch Duty Zero by CDF. We sought a way to re-define duty free through this new name and brand. Duty Zero is not only a new term of reference in duty free, but also a fresh start for our core business.

“Duty Zero by CDF will create a new yardstick in travel retail. It takes flight at HKIA but in the near future the brand will appear at Beijing Capital International Airport, Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport and other locations. Our grand hope is to build the brand to become a major player.”

The joint venture has introduced early signage to promote key categories within liquor, before it transforms the stores themselves in the months ahead

Lagardère Travel Retail Asia Pacific Chief Operating Officer Emmanuel de Place said: “Our ambition is to deliver the leading experience in travel retail to the travellers of HKIA so that on top of the many wonderful things Hong Kong has to offer, travellers will wish to stop at the airport just to experience the future of travel retail.”

The partners are encouraging shoppers to pick up a basket in the stores, one of many measures aimed at lifting average transaction values

The main store was doing brisk business, mainly with Chinese shoppers, at mid-afternoon on Monday

The images on this page show how the new Duty Zero branding is bring gradually phased in to the store fronts and inside the outlets, as well as leading the retailer’s early promotions.

Duty Zero makes an early in-store pledge about the theatre and excitement it plans to introduce at HKIA

Chinese cigarettes will be a major driver within the tobacco category, as the generous space devoted to leading brands underlines

Travellers receive regular reminders of the cash coupon offer if they spend HK$2,000 using UnionPay cards

Duty Zero will lean heavily on Lagardère Travel Retail’s expertise in retailing wines & Chamgagnes as the new stores take shape

*Footnote: In related news, The Shilla Duty Free will take over the P&C stores from DFS Group on 12 December. Heinemann will take over the first two of its new confectionery stores before year-end with the remainder scheduled to follow before Chinese New Year. We’ll bring you further news on other big commercial developments at HKIA shortly.