Into the woods: The outdoors is a prominent theme in the store.

ESTONIA. Baltona inaugurated its retail offer at Tallinn Airport on Thursday after completing its third duty free store at the Estonian gateway on 1 June.

Baltona, owned by Flemingo International, now runs over 1,000sq m of commercial space at Tallinn where it won a seven-year concession a year ago. In 2017 the airport handled a record 2.65 million passengers.

The main 800sq m shop – which has a strong Sense of Place created by London-based The Design Solution (TDS) – will sell core duty free categories like perfumes, cosmetics, confectionery and liquor, plus fashion products. Two other stores (180sq m in total) sell last-minute items.

Tallinn Airport CEO Piret Mürk-Dubout oversaw a “meticulous” planning process

Tallinn Airport CEO Piret Mürk-Dubout, said that the planning process to upgrade the duty free retail facilities has been “meticulous”. She added: “For us it is very important that the main duty free shop will offer not only the core categories, but also fashion accessories and local specialties.”

Bringing the outdoors in

An ‘enchanted forest’ shop concept from TDS was influenced by Estonians’ love of the outdoors, and was designed to give passengers “a moment of joy and relaxation” during their travels.

Using a natural light wood colour palette, with birch details, the shop was outfitted with furniture and objects in keeping with local tradition. Travellers can also see outside through the glazed parts of the façade or stop and rest in seating areas.

According to TDS, unlike many airports, Tallinn has a distinct identity which is something it wanted to preserve in the retail offer. The gateway is sometimes referred to as ‘the cosiest airport’ and TDS’s Nick Taylor said: “For me this is the essence of what we have tried to achieve with the store designs for Baltona.”

Commenting on the main duty free store, Baltona CEO Piotr Kazimierski, said: “It is a retail space that speaks to passengers. We are happy that we have been able to work with the airport and with The Design Solution on this project.” He added that in the 100th anniversary years of both Estonia and Poland he was “especially proud” of Baltona’s presence in Estonia.

In parallel with the outdoor and relaxation themes, TDS was aware it had to design a store that could perform. “There was never a doubt in our mind that every one of these 700sq m has to perform commercially or else we have failed,” said Taylor.

Baltona CEO Piotr Kazimierski: “Our approach is to put many scattered locations under one umbrella”.

“As part of this process the partnership between the three of us – designer, operator and airport – has been a refreshing dialogue rather than series of instructions and we are extremely proud of the results.”

Baltona’s strategic intent

Baltona’s Kazimierski used the opening to describe the company’s aims in the travel retail market. A pursuit of small and medium airports is a key goal.

“We see a niche there and our approach is to put many of these scattered locations under one umbrella,” he said. “Many of them are too small for bigger players, but they are important and attractive.”

Since 2011, Baltona Duty Free has expanded from its home market in Poland to operate 50 outlets in nine European countries. In Baltona’s home market, Kazimierski said: “We are now in the final stage of opening new shops in Wroclaw Airport. We also very recently signed a deal for 14 outlets at Warsaw Chopin Airport.”