The Moodie Davitt Report was in Copenhagen at the launch of Retreat, the first of multiple Areas-operated F&B establishments planned in the city.
The local brand offers healthy fast food, including a mixture of on-the-go purchases and locally sourced, organic sandwiches and salads.
Retreat is located on the main thoroughfare in Terminal 3. The restaurateur and its airport concessionaire are confident the concept will resonate with passengers who are increasingly looking for fresh and nutritious hand-made food.
Areas aims to increase its footprint in Northern Europe, and has identified the partnership with Retreat and other local brands as central to that strategy.
“Growth in Northern Europe is a real objective, so we start in Copenhagen,” explained Areas Director General for Airports and Railway Stations Lionel Vazzoler.
“We will launch over ten tenders in the coming months at Copenhagen and we expect to win between five and seven of them. We aim to have a significant presence in Copenhagen.”
He added: “We are working with Retreat to look at other opportunities, as well as with other local heroes and international brands.”
The “local heroes” reference refers to Copenhagen Airport’s aim to grow its F&B line-up from 36 to 50 outlets over the next two years, primarily with Danish brands.
Alongside the goal of adding healthier foodie options, the Scandinavian hub operator is focused on creating a Sense of Place within its terminals. Working with brands associated with Copenhagen, such as Retreat which has five outlets in the city centre, is central to that strategy.
Copenhagen Airport Director of Airport Sales Lise Ryevad said: “We know that around 60% of people appreciate good food experiences when travelling.
“And there’s high demand for healthy alternatives. Retreat is good food, simple as that –high quality at a fair price from a strong Danish brand. Retreat is fully in keeping with our ambition to give travellers ‘a taste of Copenhagen’ as they pass through Copenhagen Airport.”
Retreat was founded three years ago by Jesper Lehmann, who wanted to launch a fast food concept with a healthy and home-made image. All fresh food recipes are developed ten minutes from the airport in a central kitchen serving each of its outlets.
The kitchen team is overseen by well-known Copenhagen chef Mikkel Maarbjerg, who helps source ingredients, shape recipes and train staff. Maarbjerg owned Michelin-starred restaurant Ensemble before selling the Copenhagen business in 2005.
The chef has since co-founded the Kirk + Maarbjerg consultancy, helping various companies – including Singapore Airlines – develop their menus and recipes. Watch the video below to see how Maarbjerg assisted Singapore Airlines to establish an inflight gourmet food offering.
With the support of Areas and the guaranteed exposure to a multi-national audience thanks to its new airport presence, Retreat is now eyeing European expansion.
Founder and CEO Lehmann noted: “When I created the concept, I wrote one sentence: ‘It has to be strong enough to be in Copenhagen Airport’.
“We also had to have international growth potential – that is my focus right now and I think the brand is strong enough [to expand abroad].”
Areas, too, can see the potential for Retreat in locations outside Denmark and has plans to expand the partnership. An additional opportunity at Copenhagen Airport is also under consideration.
“Retreat is a good local hero but we will be able to work with the company more widely,” explained Vazzoler.
“We are looking to all the Scandinavian countries and The Netherlands – not just in the airports but in railway stations, too. Retreat could have a place in main railway stations such as Gare de Lyon and Gare du Nord [in France]. It is a concept with very high standards and shaped for the bigger locations rather than regional ones.”
The Areas-Retreat partnership at Copenhagen Airport is for a minimum of five years.
Both Lehmann and Vazzoler have ambitions to grow their businesses in similar markets to Copenhagen, and they are exploring potential opportunities accordingly.
Lehmann argued his brand would be well received in big European cities, such as Paris, London, Berlin and Hamburg, adding: “I say quite often if we are good, skilled and lucky enough, more will come.”