AUSTRALIA. Sydney Airport General Manager, Retail Glyn Williams is leaving on 31 January following a corporate reorganisation that sees the retail, property and landside operations and transport teams combined. As a result of the new integrated structure, Williams and General Manager Landside Operations & Transport Craig Norton are exiting the business.

Commenting on the much-respected Williams’ departure, Sydney Airport CEO Geoff Culbert said, “Glyn leaves an incredible legacy from his four and a half years at Sydney Airport. Most significantly, he re-imagined our retail offering and created the T1 luxury precinct, the redevelopment at T2 and the attraction of first to Australia/first to airport brands such as Kitchen by Mike, Chur Burger and The Bistro by Wolfgang Puck.

Glyn Williams: First to Australia, first to airport concepts have been key to the shopping and dining transformation he has driven at Sydney Airport. Pictured behind him is the acclaimed Heinemann Duty Free business.

“In addition to his passion for brands and retail, Glyn led the retail team to think bigger, drive harder and deliver more. Under Glyn’s leadership the transformation of Sydney Airport has been recognised as world leading, both in local media and international journals, including being awarded the best retail development of an airport globally in 2017. Glyn is an innovative thinker who is always looking to do more, and to do it differently, unconstrained by historical practice. These are uncommon qualities that I have highly valued and will miss.”

“Glyn leaves an incredible legacy from his four and a half years at Sydney Airport… he is an innovative thinker who is always looking to do more, and to do it differently, unconstrained by historical practice.” – Sydney Airport CEO Geoff Culbert

Of Norton, Culbert said, “Craig has had an enormous impact at Sydney Airport over the past eight years. He introduced online parking, established the Customer Care Centre and has delivered an extensive programme of road works including the domestic one-way loop, the Marsh street flyover, the pedestrian and cyclist access to T1, and worked closely with government on the widening of Marsh Street and Ross Smith Avenue. There is no tougher role at Sydney Airport than managing roads, taxis, rideshare, limousines and car parking.”

Comment: Culbert’s unusually effusive tribute to Williams underlines how highly the Sydney Airport retail supremo was rated internally, even by a new CEO who only assumed his role in late 2017, writes Martin Moodie.

Transformation is an overused word in airport retail but that is precisely the dynamic that Williams has brought to the New South Wales gateway since his appointment in May 2014. Coming from a blue-chip domestic retail background (he previously held senior positions at shopping centre giants Westfield and Dexus), he was never likely to accept airport retail as any kind of inferior proposition. In fact, he turned that comparison on its head, striving through a series of ‘Australia first’ and ‘airport first’ introductions to make Sydney Airport’s retail (and dining) offer one of Australia’s best.

The airport’s luxury precinct is by common acclaim as good as any in the airport world. Its Heinemann Duty Free operation, spread out over a vast retail footprint that could have easily turned into a commercial black hole, has turned out to be a considerable consumer and financial success, largely thanks to the flexibility, partnership mentality and retail acumen of both concessionaire and landlord. The airport’s food and beverage offer, highlighted by the brilliant, FAB Award-winning Kitchen by Mike, is also considered among the sector’s best-in-class propositions.

Kitchen by Mike was named Airport Casual Dining Restaurant of the Year at the 2018 FAB Awards in Helsinki, Finland.

Williams’ services are likely to be in high demand and it is understood he will be involved in several advisory roles to airports and concessionaires. He has had a big influence on the sharp qualitative rise in Australian airport consumer services over the past five years and it is good news that he will remain involved in the aviation commercial space.

Williams can be contacted by phone on +61 418 679 496; and by e-mail at glynwilliams1@hotmail.com

Glyn Williams speaking at last year’s Trinity Forum in Shanghai, where positive disruption was his pervading theme. “I keep hearing about innovation and I’ve seen some wonderful innovation in design, but what I’m not seeing is innovation in terms of tailoring or resetting the products so that we can grow at a far greater rate than now. The rest of it is, to me, ‘BAU’ – Business As Usual innovation. I think that’s where the next reset comes. To me that means taking our product off-airport, straight to the customer.”