THAILAND. King Power International last night hosted one of the most spectacular store openings ever seen in travel retail, as it unveiled the redesigned, refurbished and expanded King Power Rangnam downtown duty free store. The Grand Opening event featured theatre, music, an unforgettable fountain and light show, and saw the introduction of King Power’s new Global Ambassador, Chinese actress and singer Fan Bingbing.

The ‘East meets West’ style opening event was attended by H.E. Somkid Jatusripitak, Deputy Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand, senior management and staff from King Power, many brand owners and selected media representatives, including The Moodie Davitt Report.

Up in lights: The spectacular Grand Opening attracted over 1,000 guests from Thailand and overseas, as King Power celebrated the latest milestone in its history

Marking the moment: King Power International Chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, CEO Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha, senior government officials and Global Ambassador Fan Bingbing inaugurate the new King Power Rangnam store (more images to follow)

Star attraction: Global Ambassador Fan Bingbing “transcends many sectors and will be an asset as we pursue our goal of becoming a top five duty free operator,” said King Power

Opened originally in 2006, King Power’s biggest downtown store has undergone a transformation into a shopping, leisure and entertainment destination. The retail space covers 22,000sq m and there are over 40 new brands across the categories. The company’s investment in the new store was around Bt2.5 billion (US$74 million).

Space, light, visibility and wayfinding is improved throughout, with many new digital features. London-based The Design Solution partnered with King Power on the design and planning for the three-level complex (a wider story on the design and planning will follow soon).

Ride on: There was a strong equine theme to the entertainment, which also featured spectacular dance performances (including from flying angel Erika Lemay, below) and an eye-catching fountain show

The outdoor opening ceremony was followed by a series of activities inside the store, from a fashion show (above) to a stellar performance from Thai rock group Bodyslam (below) in the Aksra Theatre (venue for The Trinity Forum, which was hosted by King Power last November)

King Power International Group CEO Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha said: “The new-look King Power Rangnam will revolutionise the image of downtown duty free retail, integrating products and services to meet the needs of both domestic shoppers and world travellers.

“It represents more than one of Bangkok’s major landmarks. King Power Rangnam is a symbol of thriving tourism in Thailand and the industry’s importance to its people and our economy. It is where world class brands are continually introduced to Thailand and where Thai products are given a gateway to the global marketplace.”

King Power International Group CEO Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha with the English Premier League trophy captured by King Power-owned Leicester City in 2016; below, with Dermot Davitt in his office at King Power headquarters

Speaking to The Moodie Davitt Report, he added: “This is a milestone for our company. Our staff, management and owners have put in much effort to make this a flagship for our family and company.”

He added: “It was time to do something new. The world is changing, the market is changing and the behaviour of customers, tourists, even staff, is changing. We wanted to change some perceptions of what a duty free shop should be. It’s not just about shopping; you can come here to eat or be entertained and we have a programme of events lined up each month that people will find attractive.

“We did a lot of research to learn the right ingredients to serve the customer. 18 January 2018 is the right time to open the new King Power Rangnam, which is how we have renamed this complex. That identifies it as different from our other locations.

Team effort: King Power International Senior Executive Vice President Susan Whelan (right) and Executive Assistant Kessarin Dettgit enjoy the Grand Opening; below, The Design Solution’s Robbie Gill and Nick Taylor, who planned the new store’s design in partnership with King Power

Highlights include the upscale ground floor fashion area, housing boutiques from leading luxury names. Among them are Prada, Ferragamo, Burberry, Valentino, Bottega Veneta, Coach, Emporio Armani, Stuart Weitzman, Longchamp, Alexander McQueen, Moncler, Saint Laurent, Gucci, Tod’s, Bally, Tumi and Michael Kors. The ground floor is also home to a dedicated sunglasses zone featuring over 30 brands.

Some 22 watch boutiques and shop-in-shops anchor the second floor retail area, with names such as Rolex, Omega, TAG Heuer, Chopard, Montblanc, IWC, Jaeger LeCoultre, Vacheron Constantin, Blancpain, Tiffany, Swarovski (including jewellery) and more. Beyond this lies a multi-brand fashion watches area, a multi-brand fashion zone (brands include Lacoste, Paul & Shark and Calvin Klein), a new athleisure area featuring Adidas, Under Armour and Nike, plus a fashion jewellery store that houses Folli Follie, Thomas Sabo and Grosse.

The same level is home to a vast and striking beauty zone, with many high-class personalised brand executions. Skincare, a vital category for the retailer at this store, carries an enhanced range of brands in a zone that is well signposted and easy to navigate. The elegant P&C zone in total carries over 80 brands.

The top floor is a showcase for Thailand and Thai products, with wood used extensively in the fixtures to create a different atmosphere. Delicatessen goods, handcrafted souvenirs, wellness items and Thai wines & spirits stand out in this zone, which is adjacent to a street food-style Thai food hub with many famed Bangkok restaurant names represented. The food & beverage range features a series of popular downtown restaurant brands, brought specially to the new complex to attract locals and visitors alike.

The new-look King Power Rangnam has been upgraded through a investment of US$74 million, with a redesigned atrium, striking design features and over 40 new brands

Srivaddhanaprabha added: “We wanted to make this a one-stop location for our customers to experience not only shopping but to have a taste of Bangkok and Thailand.

“We have chosen some restaurants that are historic in Bangkok or Thailand, many founded generations ago. For many of these it’s a first to step away from their original location. But that shows their trust in us. It also shows Thai people that you have choice and can spend time here.”

Taking the tour: A walk through of the ground floor at King Power Rangnam (videos of the watches and P&C zones feature below)

Ease of access, good visibility and digitalisation were among the driving principles behind the new design, he noted.

“When we opened 11 years ago, everything here was separated, with shopping and offices in different buildings. Now we have tied it all together into one.

“We had single circulation through the store in the past so it needed a new layout that is more flexible, where people can feel more relaxed and spend time.

“Also, in the past we had very traditional Thai-style architecture. It’s still Thai but more contemporary. We have changed the atrium fully. Before it was not well recognised and we felt it could be more distinguished, so we have shaped it like a piece of Thai jewellery.

“Inside the store is also very contemporary but remains Thai inspired. We added 1,200sq m of space and the brands have supported us to a level that we’ve never had before. We have new categories such as sport/athleisure and that is important. The watches area is huge and stands out very well, you have a large beauty zone with many brands. Each area has a different feel and design.

“Digital innovation was also important. We have installed a lot of digital elements into the shop to service the needs of travellers and to match global trends. That includes marketing but also payment solutions for Chinese or Thai customers. We have WeChat Pay, AliPay, Union Pay. People don’t want to stand in queues as they did in the past. They are time-limited and have a choice of where to shop. We need to serve the customers in new ways. We have to maximise every opportunity to make the customer happy.”

Into a new era: The power of digital is on full view across the new store, and blends neatly with the high-class executions from many brands (ground floor fashion boutiques pictured below)

Key to the digitalisation drive, Srivaddhanaprabha revealed, is the launch of an updated King Power mobile app. This offers information on shopping and travel plus the ability to pre-order goods before the journey.

He said: “We have made the app better than ever before to serve the customer and especially the new generation. People use their phones everywhere so this solution is needed. Pre-order is for airport pick-up so that makes the journey more seamless, and in general it makes buying or finding what you want in advance much easier. I hope in future that we can generate 10% of our business online.”

Lacoste (above) and Paul & Shark (below): Two of the key locations for accessible luxury on the second floor

The ‘athleisure’ category is an emerging one for King Power, with a dedicated Leicester City store proudly nestled in the heart of this zone

Fashion jewellery brands Folli Follie, Thomas Sabo and Grosse combine in a single store on the second floor before travellers access the vast P&C space

Swarovski benefits from its own space on the middle floor, adjacent to the watches zone

Srivaddhanaprabha noted the vital importance of the FIT traveller to the business. “The target audience at this store is the FIT segment and Thais. We see huge growth in the FIT market, of +30% to +40% every year, so it is very significant. And it is not only Chinese, but also Russians, Japanese and visitors from countries such as Vietnam or Myanmar. We have many different nationalities.”

He added: “This year we want to engage more with the customer. If you want their loyalty, you need to make them comfortable and you need to build their trust. That’s what is important at this new store. That’s what we want to show. The market has changed and we are changing.”

The watches zone on the second floor (note the timepiece-inspired ceiling design) is one of the store’s big highlights

*A full interview with King Power International Group CEO Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha, along with more images and comment on the new store, will appear in next week’s edition of The Moodie Davitt e-Zine.

Fragrances, cosmetics and skincare come together in 2,300sq m of space; though the footprint is large, the segmentation of categories and varied design features threaded throughout make it easy to access and understand

Going local: The third floor offer is led by a 600sq m Thai ‘lifestyle collection’ featuring well-known names such as Jim Thompson and many artisanal brands supported by King Power

Taste of Thailand: The top floor also features 17 restaurants in 840sq m of space, including many well-known street parlour brands