TAIPEI. “Connecting Taiwan and the world.” That was the core principle of Ever Rich Duty Free’s mission to reimagine the retail and food & beverage offer at Taoyuan International Airport Terminal 2, the NT$1 billion (US$33 million) first phase of which was inaugurated at a VIP event on Friday.
The result certainly achieved that aim – the retail zone’s startling transformation is a brilliant fusion of local and international, traditional and modern – but it delivered a lot more besides.
In a heartfelt speech to guests, who included Taoyuan City Mayor Zhèng Wéncàn (Cheng Wen-tsan) and Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-Lung, Ever Rich Duty Free Founder and Chairman Simon Chiang spoke of the complexities involved in managing such a project within a working airport.
Construction took place behind walls and at night to minimise passenger and operational disruption, he pointed out – an expensive process geared to deliver ultimate consumer value. Importantly, he noted, the project was underpinned by clear principles that combined both business and social values.
“Ever Rich is always motivated by public service and a belief in giving back to society – that is the most important thing to us,” Chairman Chiang commented. “We try to market Taiwan to the world while also implementing the Ever Rich belief in integrity, professionalism, charity and innovation.
“I believe that Terminal 2 represents a whole new picture under Ever Rich’s and everyone’s efforts. I believe that we can raise customer satisfaction, deliver more revenue to the government, provide jobs and take care of our employees while also generating reasonable profits and therefore allowing us to give back to society and do more charity work – so it is five wins.”
Ever Rich President Kevin Chiang told The Moodie Davitt Report: “We’re not going to have a new airport in Taipei anytime in the coming years, so how do we transform what we have right now and upgrade it and put more elements into it? We tried to create a different concept, especially in the Sense of Place of Taiwan, based on the culture, art and people – which are the best things we can offer.
“It was extremely important for you and the Mayor and the Minister to be here to recognise the capabilities of Ever Rich – and that what we are doing is not just for ourselves, not just for commerce… but about how you can transform a middle-aged airport and how you can create added value for its customers.” [Look out for a full-length interview with Kevin Chiang in a forthcoming special feature, ‘Taoyuan International Airport Transformed’, in The Moodie Davitt eZine].
Asked to provide an external perspective on the Ever Rich development, The Moodie Davitt Report Founder & Chairman Martin Moodie told the audience: “What really stands out to me about this renovation in Terminal 2 is not only the trademark elegance, high-class design and sophisticated merchandising that Ever Rich brings to play; the impressive use of digital media and new technology; the ease of the walk-through concept designed to give passengers an enhanced shopping flow and experience – but also the rich – make that the Ever Rich – focus on local characteristics, culture and art.
“In my mind, the best examples of airport commerce are when the operator successfully blends the international and the local, building on the fact that an airport is a traveller’s first and last experience of a country.
“I believe that Ever Rich has done that triumphantly – and may I say quite beautifully – here in world-class style.”
“Human-orientated space design dedicated to every detail of space arrangement, visual impression, flow, lighting and human experience,” was how Nick Taylor, Director of London-based The Design Solution, which managed the store design, flow and planning, described the project. In that context, it is worth noting that this was neither a greenfield project nor a straightforward one – T2 is a working, crowded and physically difficult airport with low ceilings and an absence of natural light.
[We will feature more from The Design Solution in a report later this week, while Nick Taylor talks about the design principles that underpinned the project in our forthcoming Taoyuan International Airport Transformed’ eZine].
How then to deliver Ever Rich’s ambitions of elegant world-class retailing infused with a strong Sense of Place? The multiple answers to that conundrum came via a combination of a gently curved walkway through the store (literally mirrored in the ceiling above); a dramatic 50 metre-plus digital wrap; a focus on sensorial experiences; the introduction of neon signage to encapsulate Taiwanese street culture; some magnificent local artworks; and a heady mix of strongly personalised international brands and beautifully packaged local ones.
The detail and the thought that underpins it is classic Ever Rich. New staff uniforms which combine the contrasting hues of coral pink and deep indigo blue convey Taiwanese hospitality and Ever Rich professionalism, respectively. A pilot’s flying scarf – modelled on The Little Prince – and a chic salesperson’s bag evoke the aviation connections between Taiwan and the world. The combination of neon and digital media is extremely powerful, injecting a contemporary immediacy to a retail offer borne out of traditional values of top-class brands and high-class service.
No-one familiar with the philosophy of Ever Rich Chairman & CEO Simon Chiang and his son Kevin will be surprised that this ambitious retail makeover embraces not just the commercial but the cultural, the traditional and the modern. Taiwanese artist Fan Chengzhong has created a series of giant art installations, including ‘Taiwan Mountain’ and ‘Passengers’, which use traditional thread binding books to illustrate the country’s highest peak, Yushan (also known as Mount Jade) and eight famous world mountains. Together they symbolise that Taiwan plays an important role in honouring Chinese tradition and popular culture, while also showcasing the beauty of Taiwan to the world.
Multimedia artist Chen Yijie was commissioned to surprise and delight passengers through a series of large digital panels, offering a modern twist to the pervading theme of Taiwanese culture.
There’s plenty else that’s contemporary about the store too with an enduring emphasis on innovative multi-sensory experiences, including a fragrance-identifier programme; tasting opportunities at the cocktail bar and dining areas; and the touch experience of a VR make-up device. Collectively they fulfil Ever Rich’s ambition to “reach customers through all five senses with enthusiasm and joy”.
Public facilities key to inclusive, service-orientated philosophy
Under the terms of its concession, Ever Rich is also responsible for enhancing and operating a wide of public facilities at the terminal, from information desks to washrooms. Gender equality is a hot topic in Taiwan and Ever Rich was keen to demonstrate the value it places on human rights by creating stylish gender-neutral toilets. These embrace smart technology-based washing facilities in keeping with a view that Taoyuan International Airport services should keep pace with the world’s best airports.
‘New service, new concept and new image’ – food & beverage taken to new heights
Unusually for an airport duty free retailer, Ever Rich also manages an extensive food & beverage operation at T2. In order to tailor an offer appropriate to the terminal’s passenger profile, the company held numerous discussions with Taiwan’s best restaurateurs and suppliers and subsequently introduced an eclectic array of renowned Taiwanese and other Asian F&B brands. To ensure all tastes are catered for, internationally renowned brands such as McDonald’s, Starbucks and Jambo Juice were introduced in the first quarter of 2019.
And coming soon…
The NT$1 billion (US$33 million) phase one investment follows Ever Rich’s success in winning a hotly contested tender for a new contract last year. Eventually the investment for the T2 reconstruction will climb to around NT$$3 billion (US$98 billion), including the airport corridor redesign; reconstruction of all stores (next up is an extensive Fashion Avenue); the renewal of the acclaimed themed waiting lounges; and the enhancement of various public service facilities.
Authentic Taiwanese characteristics will be a key emphasis, including new museum shops, aboriginal and Hakka (Taiwan’s second-largest ethnic group) store. The work of Taiwanese artists will be a constant feature, bolstered by festival events that underline the Sense of Place. “Ever Rich is not just marketing Taiwan to the world, but also connecting Taiwan and the world with a dynamic and abundant binding through this proud project,” the company said.
Footnote: Look out for our special reports in The Moodie Davitt eZine and FAB (our sister title dedicated to airport food & beverage) coming soon.