FRANCE. Nice Côte d’Azur Airport has completed the commercial transformation of Terminal 2 with the opening of the final food & beverage concepts, rounding out an ambitious upgrade of both terminals over the past three years. The investment by the airport and its partners should help double non-aeronautical revenues over the next four years (from around €200 million a year today), according to Chief Commercial Officer Filip Soete.

He said: “Each year we have been growing by +20-25% and we’ll double commercial revenues in a four-year period. Already in the first three months of 2018, spend per passenger has climbed by +22% and penetration has risen by +30%. This is much to do with the new walk-through stores, as everyone has to pass through these and many more are buying, especially French travellers.”

Terminal 2 transformed: The building now houses bright, open spaces, with a much improved dining offer complementing the varied retail mix

Soete was speaking at a media lunch hosted by Nice Côte d’Azur Airport (France’s second largest) in Singapore on Wednesday. As reported, Nice Airport completed its major refurbishment and expansion of T1 in 2016, with most of T2 following in 2017. The goal, Soete reaffirmed, was to create “the most surprising commercial experience at a European airport”. Key themes were a strong emphasis on Sense of Place, differentiating the offer across both retail and dining, and adding surprise and theatre to the environment. The commercial design was planned by UK-based The Design Solution.

Jamie’s Italian: A big hit with travelling diners at Nice Airport

As reported, commercial space overall was increased by +162% to 3,706sq m in T2. Within this, duty free (managed through Aelia Duty Free) grew its space by +79% to 1,100sq m. Other retail space increased by +198% to 1,325sq m while F&B space rose by +260% to 1,281sq m. Space for lounges is now +144% larger at 1,415sq m.

The main walk-through store in T2 has been open since February 2017, and 90% of the retail space completed last May. In the next phase mezzanine F&B (airside) opened on 1 June and the remaining retail and landside F&B in December. The full F&B offer was finalised in April with the signature opening of Estivale by celebrated chef Mauro Colagreco, who has two Michelin stars. “This is a great restaurant in superb space with excellent sea views,” said Soete.

L’Estivale: A showcase for the talents of Mauro Colagreco, who has his signature Michelin star restaurant nearby

Popular UK chef Jamie Oliver has also established a firm presence, in partnership with SSP. Jamie Italian opened in July 2017 and is marked out by its “superb quality” according to Soete. A separate Jamie’s Deli opened in the same month and a further Jamie’s Deli opened in landside departures this April.

La Plage Bar: Complements the FAB Award-winning restaurant of the same name

Other recent F&B units to open include Bar La Plage in January and Saleya in March. In the past year the T2 offer has been diversified by the openings of La Tarte Tropezienne, Bread & Co, Starbucks, Eric Kayser and Petrossian (all June 2017), as well as by Joe & The Juice (October, (its second outlet at the airport, first airside) and Chez Jean (December).

Beyond core category duty free, the T2 retail range has been much expanded too over the past year. Major openings include SoNice (destination goods), Fragonard (trendy local products), Hour Passion (jewellery & watches), Saveurs de Provence (regional fine food) and Hermès (partnering with Dufry).

SoNice and Saveurs de Provence: Two recent destination merchandise store openings that reflect the best in regional artisanship and products

Nice Airport has also added a series of pop-up stores in the past two months under one-year tenancies to allow the brand to offset the costs of installation and to gain exposure.

These include Daniel Wellington (T1), the brand’s first store in southern Europe; Misaki (T2); two experimental F&B units, Monsieur Albert hotdogs (T2) and couscous specialist Koksi (T2), plus cosmetics brand Gold in the Business Terminal.

Nice Airport has allocated its pop-up brand partners one-year leases

Soete noted: “F&B has been over-performing and the walk-through duty free stores have done well as we expected. Fashion and gastronomy have room to grow. It’s not just about the commercial offer, it’s about the experience. Our ACI Airport Service Quality score was around 7.0, now it’s 8.0, which is close to best in class. It shows the impact of the investment, as do the figures for spend and penetration.”

Chinese are the number one nationality by average spend at €130-140 per head. The airport is now hoping to build on this by adding a direct China flight.

Upscale look: Hermès partnered with Dufry for its T2 store, which opened in October 2017

Passenger traffic climbed by +7.1% year-on-year in 2017 to 13 million and has risen by double digits so far in 2018, aided by Emirates’ introduction of its Airbus A380 to Dubai and Qatar Airways’ new Dreamliner service. “We are targeting average passenger growth of +3.7% a year for the coming years, but are well ahead of that currently.”

Lush surroundings: Nice Côte d’Azur Airport Chief Commercial Officer Filip Soete (centre right) hosts guests at Singapore’s Botanic Gardens; among them were (l-r) Chris Madden (Frontier), Robbie Gill (The Design Solution), Andrew Pentol (TRBusiness), Dermot Davitt (The Moodie Davitt Report), Catherine Bonelli (Paul & Shark) and Kapila Ireland (DFNI)