ITALY. Lagardère Travel Retail showcased its new duty free, retail and food & beverage offer at Rome Fiumicino Airport last week, promising a modern shopping environment with a vibrant Sense of Place.
The French retailer’s senior team commended the airport operator’s vision for its Avancorpo building, part of the newly extended Terminal 3. And the company also underlined the importance of the Trinity partnership between airport, retailer and brands in the successful delivery of the new space.
The Aelia Duty Free walk-through store, five fashion shops and three food service outlets at the newly constructed terminal meet Fiumicino’s needs for a distinctive commercial offer that provides a taste of Rome and Italy, they said.
The new F&B space has been secured on a seven-year contract, and the fashion stores for at least five years.
“We must give respect to Rome Airport, who built a clear vision from the beginning around what should be at the airport” – Lagardère Travel Retail Director General and COO for EMEA Frederic Chevalier
Last week’s grand unveiling of additional space was described by Lagardère Travel Retail CEO and Chairman Dag Rasmussen as a “milestone” moment for the partnership. It comes five years after Lagardère Travel Retail first started retailing operations at the Italian capital’s gateway.
“Together we are much more intelligent than when we are alone,” Rasmussen said in his opening presentation to delegates, including The Moodie Davitt Report, in Rome.
“Many partners – airports and brands – understand we’re ready to work with them. We have the humility to say ‘We don’t know everything.’ Together we can make something unique.”
The new commercial space has been open to the public for three months, and both retailer and airport company said they are happy with trading to date.
Lagardère Travel Retail Director General and COO for EMEA Frédéric Chevalier commented: “We must give respect to Rome Airport, who built a clear vision from the beginning around what should be at the airport.
“Italy – and Rome in particular – is showcased. The vision was well conceived, which made it easier for us to [build our full concepts].”
The 1,850sq m Aelia Duty Free store highlights Italian brands such as Pallini, Bvlgari, Acqua Di Parma and Dolce & Gabbana, as well as the A Casa del Gusto shop-in-shop which offers traditional Italian food and wine.
“There is one Rome, not several Romes – and we want to make people feel they are in Rome and nowhere else”
Lagardère Travel Retail has also added fashion, jewellery and accessories via stand-alone Ermenegildo Zegna, Montblanc, Michael Kors, Pandora and Sunglass Hut boutiques.
Neapolitan eatery Farinella, Asian cuisine outlet Ajisen Ramen and the Beercode pub and casual dining restaurant have opened upstairs in T3. Lagardère Travel Retail is confident that they represent a different kind of F&B from that found at typical European airports.
“First of all it was a cooperation with the airport to understand how to split the cake into a different offer, regarding food,” commented Lagardère Travel Retail CEO for Italy Lucio Rossetto.
“If you just let everybody free on the format, they would all create a bar, a snack outlet, etc. Here the airport wanted a complementary offer, a polarised and differential offer.”
He added: “What we did better than our rival [for the Avancorpo T3 tender] was respect what the airport was looking for. We believe our outlets stand out in the food quarter, because they speak to very different needs.”
Fiumicino is Farinella’s first airport restaurant and represents Ajisen Ramen’s European debut. Beercode aims to attract a mixed audience with its menu split – for those grabbing a pre-flight drink, and those who have time for a sit-down meal.
“Italy is famous for food and design, so here when you go into duty free you have Italian food and fashion, while downstairs you have Italian fashion,” explained Rossetto.
“Upstairs you have an Italian approach to food. We expect people to understand they are in Italy – that’s our ambition.”
Chevalier commended Rasmussen for giving the company “tremendous momentum” in recent years. He argued that Lagardère Travel Retail has developed a “unique positioning in the industry [that] differentiates us from the pack” – not just in Rome.
“Our ambition as a retailer is to exceed passenger expectations… we want to create places where people are pleased to come to shop or eat or work,” he said.
“Consumer expectations are permanently evolving, and we are all struggling worldwide with the challenge of simultaneously dealing with demanding high-profile Chinese passengers and at the same time a mass low-cost flow that needs to be served. It’s a real challenge that we are working on every day.”
Here and Nowhere Else
Rasmussen stated: “There is one Rome, not several Romes – and we want to make people feel they are in Rome and nowhere else.” That intended Sense of Place at Rome Fiumicino can be seen throughout the terminal.
La Bocca della Verità (The Mouth of Truth)
A bearded face carved into a giant marble disc, the original Bocca della Verità is located in the portico of the medieval Chiesa di Santa Maria in Cosmedin.
It has become a popular tourist attraction thanks to the legend surrounding its creation. It is said that if a person puts their hand in the mouth of the face and tells a lie, the Bocca will slam shut and bite off their hand.
The mouth was originally part of a fountain, although there is an alternative theory that it was an ancient manhole cover. It was made in the eighth century.
A replica has been placed near the checkouts inside the Aelia Duty Free store to provide additional theatre to the shopping experience. Shoppers place their hand in the mouth and ‘risk the consequences’. They may end up with money off their shopping, or other gifts, as a result.
The localised feel is largely achieved through the product range, the brands and the food offer. However, Fiumicino’s new duty free space has extra features to help create this environment.
Following the theme of ‘Here and Nowhere Else’, Lagardère Travel Retail aimed to meet the airport’s ambition to design a store and offer exclusive to Rome Fiumicino Airport.
Decor inspired by images of Rome is present throughout the store, including a customised corner for M&M’s that references the Coliseum. There is also a Bocca della Verità experience, where customers are invited to put their hands in the ‘Mouth of the Truth’ to potentially receive gifts and shopping discounts.
Another central message detailed in the new duty free space is ‘The Art of the Gift’, which comprises a series of reminders to shoppers that this is an opportunity to buy gifts. A gift-wrapping service is also available.
The retailer encourages consumers to share their experiences of the shop on social media by using #Roma – a marketing tool that has been in place since the store opened.
“Duty free is big business, and it is also an emotional business,” explained Chevalier. “We don’t always want the same boring retail environment. A lot of passion and emotion goes into Italian wines – and all the products are loaded with emotion and values. Playing on that, we can create a desire to shop.”
He added: “#Roma was put in place at the opening, with the aim of creating some excitement.”
“We aim to spend less time fighting over how to share the pie, and more time [creating] the pie”
Both Lagardère Travel Retail and the airport wanted to ensure easy navigation and signage throughout the shop, so there is a wide meandering walk-way and numerous flight screens.
In a nod to the growing trend of consumers pre-ordering goods online prior to arriving at the airport, a click & collect facility is available.
Rasmussen commented: “We start from the consumers and we see how we can satisfy them and how we can listen to them. We need to be listening to them on social media, and if they want to order before they arrive they need to be able to do so.”
Rasmussen reiterated the importance of building Lagardère Travel Retail’s digital channels and revealed that the company is growing its team to facilitate this expansion. He argued though that there is “much more growth in building a store and then adding the digital”.
Speaking of the company’s online retail and digital sales channels, he said, “For tomorrow, we need to have it; but it’s more of a long-term vision and investment than generating sales today.”
The CEO and Chairman described Lagardère Travel Retail as a “B2C4B company”, with the end consumer (B2C) as the “top priority”. But he emphasised the commitment it has to landlords and partner brands (4B), because “without them, nothing happens”.
“We are investing in quality. We aim to spend less time fighting over how to share the pie, and more time [creating] the pie,” he stressed.
Last week, Lagardère Travel Retail announced it had been awarded the five-year duty free concession at Geneva Airport, effective from Q4 2017.
In a key win for the French company, Lagardère will replace long-time incumbent The Nuance Group (now owned by Dufry). The contract covers seven duty free stores across arrivals and departures.
Rasmussen said that the organisation has never had as many operations as it does now, with its offer covering duty free, food service and travel essentials in around 30 countries.
“We believe this is a result of the very dynamic market; travel retail is one of the most dynamic retail markets in the world,” he remarked. “It’s also the result of the strategy we’ve created and the result of the trust our partners have in us, and their expectations.”
Giving some insight into the team’s internal strategy, he added: “The easiest was to earn a Dollar or a Euro is to increase sales in existing stores, so there is a daily effort to drive sales in the stores. It’s not just about winning Geneva or other contracts – it is about winning our customers every day.”