POLAND. Lagardère Travel Retail unveiled 28 shops and food & beverage outlets at Gdańsk Lech Wałęsa Airport on Wednesday. The transformed retail offer – which includes two walk-through core-category stores covering more than 2,500sq m combined [previously 780sq m] – is the culmination of a 10-year master concession agreement awarded to Lagardère last year.
The outlets include duty free, fashion, travel essentials and food & beverage, underlining the retailer’s three-pillar strategy.
“Gdańsk is a good illustration of what we believe we can do at regional airports,” said Lagardère Travel Retail Regional Chief Operating Officer EMEA Frédéric Chevalier*.
“A master concession is not a must, but it is something we want to foster because we believe it is best for the airport consumer, provided we partner in the right way with the airport.”
Gdańsk Airport Chairman of the Board Tomasz Kloskowski hailed the efficiency of the master concessionaire model. “After multiple tenders in 2012 we had about 15 operators,” he told The Moodie Davitt Report.
“Now with expectations for 5 million passengers in 2018 [4.4 million are forecast for 2017] and with potential future rebuilding, if I have to talk about the design of the new terminal I only need to consult with one partner.” The airport decided not to run separate tenders for different parts of the retail business where Baltona, a Flemingo company, has also been a major player in the past.
Lagardère’s new retail offer, which has been opening progressively since May 2017, is substantially larger than before. From five stores on a 1,330sq m footprint it now spans 28 stores across 4,900sq m. The Schengen and non-Schengen core duty free stores cover 2,530sq m; travel essentials units 1,000sq m; and F&B occupies the remaining 1,370sq m.
“A master concession [at regional airports] is not a must, but it is something we want to foster because we believe it is best for the airport consumer.”–Lagardère Travel Retail Regional Chief Operating Officer EMEA Frédéric Chevalier
New passenger flow
The Schengen area – which processes 75% of passengers – is the prime focus for the Baltic airport. It has been transformed so that as travellers emerge from security they immediately enter the main 1,500sq m store via an escalator.
Travellers are welcomed into an area highlighting savings “to put customers at their ease” said a Lagardère Poland spokesperson. The pathway sweeps forward before doubling back on itself, taking travellers past a tobacco offer and a large vodka selection and other Polish alcohol display to the outer of the shop.
This is followed immediately by a local fine food area concentrating on specialities and confectionery, fronted by a generous tasting bar. This entire placement, including amber items – the Baltics are home to the largest known amber deposits – is designed to immerse passengers in a fully Polish experience.
Next on the path, to the left, the spotlight is firmly on perfumes and cosmetics where Polish brands such as Purite and Zew enjoy prominence. The growing natural cosmetics segment and the usual international marques feature. Facing beauty, to the right of the path, is a wines and spirits area followed by toys and electronics and confectionery.
Lagardère’s 20-year history in Poland has armed it with a wealth of knowledge about the market – and of sourcing local lines. “We now have 860 stores [including domestic] in the Polish market,” said Lagardère Poland President and CEO Andrzej Kacperski, who was the first employee of the company two decades ago.
That remarkable growth emphasises the retailer’s long-term commitment to the Polish market. It is also true for an airport like Gdańsk. “We opened our first store, a Relay, at Gdańsk in 1999, at a time when there were just 3-4 flights a day,” said Kacperski. “The scale is very different today.”
Lagardère’s Chevalier added: “We have a strong commitment to locally empowered teams. We opened here 18 years ago, and due to our local market connections we have progressively gained the trust of the airport and grown our market share.”
A premium zone and landside refresh
That trust has enabled Lagardère to suggest one or two novelties that stand out at a regional airport. For example, on leaving the main DF & TR store, passengers enter a high-end space – the premium zone – where Lagardère’s multi-branded The Fashion Gallery (439sq m) is present. It features international fashion, accessories, and luggage names such as Calvin Klein, Furla, Hugo Boss, Samsonite and Tous.
Premium Food Gate (200sq m), a delicatessen selling traditional polish products complete with its own bistro attached, faces The Fashion Gallery. Other F&B offers on this side of the terminal include: Imperial Club, a bar offering premium alcohol with finger food; The Flame restaurant and bar serving international cuisine with a classic burgers and grill menu; and a So! Coffee unit planned for next year.
On the other side of the core DF & TR shop and at the other end of the terminal is the Food Court and Family Zone, designed with low-cost carrier passengers in mind. Such airlines dominate traffic at Gdańsk with Wizz Air generating 45.3% of passengers and Ryanair 32.3%.
Here the flow begins with a large Virgin convenience and travel essentials store (360sq m). This opens out to a concourse with McDonald’s as the F&B driver, traditional Polish cuisine from the Chief’s brand, and Furore!, an unusual 207sq m unit which mixes F&B elements such as ice cream and coffee, with toys.
Lagardère is also targeting arriving passengers with a revamp of the landside retail offer that is now over 750sq m. The previous Relay store has tripled in size with a large frontage and additional categories such as toys, accessories and cosmetics.
Close by is a new 1Minute, a convenience takeaway F&B unit with sit-down eating areas. Also new is an Aelia Beauty branded store which is designed for arriving passengers and airport staff. There are no plans to roll it out as a standalone airside shop here or anywhere else, according to Lagardère’s Chief Business Officer Ambroise Fondeur who told The Moodie Davitt Report that the concept is a landside proposition only.
*A detailed interview with Lagardère Travel Retail Regional Chief Operating Officer EMEA Frédéric Chevalier and Lagardère Poland President and CEO Andrzej Kacperski about the master concession model will appear in The Moodie Davitt e-Zine.
On-location images: © Kevin Rozario