The €45 million commercial renovation at Nice Côte d’Azur Airport is nearing completion, with a range of tailor-made, unique concepts that convey a true sense of the Riviera. Filip Soete, Chief Commercial Officer, tells Ross Falconer how Nice Côte d’Azur Airport has realised its vision of “the most surprising commercial experience in a European airport.”
When launching its commercial redevelopment three years ago, the Nice Côte d’Azur Airport ambition was clear – to create “the most surprising commercial experience in a European airport.” The Terminal 1 refurbishment was completed in May 2016, and Terminal 2 will be 90% complete this May, so ACI EUROPE Airport Commercial & Retail Conference & Exhibition attendees will see the results first-hand.
Filip Soete, Chief Commercial Officer, Nice Côte d’Azur Airport, is the driving force behind these developments. In conversation with Airport Business, he describes a “differentiated offer – from entry level to upscale level” and “a Mediterranean approach.”
The €45 million commercial investment has seen 11,000sqm in Terminal 1 impacted by the revamp, with retail space increased by 160%, lounges by 70% and seating spaces by 60%. In Terminal 2, meanwhile, 23,000sqm is being updated, with 110% more commercial space, 90% more seating and lounges doubled in size.
This is taking place against the backdrop of positive traffic figures. While the terror attack of 14 July 2016 initially saw visitor numbers to Nice fall, the airport handled 12.4 million passengers last year (+3.4%). Commercial revenues in the renovated Terminal 1 have also yielded strong results. “We have met our objectives for Terminal 1 in terms of revenues, with turnover up by 20%, so we are very happy with that and it is in line with what we expected, despite the difficult environment,” says Soete. “We are very confident for this summer. We have a strong aviation programme – Qatar Airways is returning with a five times weekly 787 service to Doha, and easyJet is increasing its schedule – so we are optimistic about 2017.”
‘Playful New Luxury’: Walkthrough store
At the heart of the new Terminal 2 commercial offer is an 840sqm walkthrough store operated by Lagardère Travel Retail under its Aelia Duty Free brand, which opened on 9 February. Mirroring the passenger route in Terminal 1, all travellers in Terminal 2 pass through a single security check area before entering the walkthrough store. The aim is to provide passengers with a fluid, simple route through the terminal.
“In opening this new route within Terminal 2, we are able to culminate our vision to offer ‘the most surprising commercial experience in a European airport’ with an emphasis on sense of place and with brands such as Fragonard, L’Occitane, Lac, and Gas very much related to the Riviera, which complement our existing offer of essential products related to travel or to France,” Soete explains.
Indeed, he reports that the Terminal 2 walkthrough store has exceeded expectations, even outperforming the Terminal 1 store. The concept is ‘Playful New Luxury’, with core categories including fragrances & cosmetics, confectionery, and wines & spirits. New brands include Crème de la Mer, Jo Malone and Filorga, while iconic French brands featured include Chanel, Dior and Guerlain. Meanwhile, a real experience has been created for travellers in the Hair & Nail Bar by Éric Zemmour, which offers express beauty services for nails and the possibility of a blow dry before departure.
Michel Pérol, CEO Lagardère Travel Retail France, comments: “Lagardère Travel Retail France is pursuing a strategy of overall operator across the three segments of duty free, restaurants and travel essentials. Nice Côte d’Azur Airport’s commercial project gave us an opportunity to express this ambition on an exceptional site.”
F&B inspired by the region
Among the food & beverage highlights in Terminal 2 will be Jamie’s Italian, created by UK celebrity chef Jamie Oliver. The 200sqm restaurant opens on 1 June and is one of 10 outlets SSP will run as part of an 11-year deal with the airport. Also opening in Terminal 2 will be L’Estivale, created in partnership with two Michelin-starred chef Mauro Colagreco, and Joe & The Juice.
“Nice Côte d’Azur Airport has ambitions to become one of the major platforms in south Europe, with a genuine focus on the passenger experience,” comments Gérard d’Onofrio, Managing Director, SSP France, Belgium, Netherlands. “We are delighted to be partnering with the team at Nice to create a food & beverage offer that will undoubtedly place the airport in the top echelons for dining.”
Chez Pipo provides a true taste of the Riviera in Terminal 1 with its first airport restaurant. Soete enthuses that it is “a real institution in Nice through the generations, famous for its ‘socca’ made from chickpea flour”. Adapted for the travel environment, it offers a range of products inspired by the region. Meanwhile, La Tarte Tropézienne is a famous patisserie from St Tropez.
The Terminal 2 renovation will be 90% complete in May and fully complete by the end of the year, at which time there will be 68 shops and restaurants across the two terminals. These are all consistent with the vision to be “surprising, entirely contemporary, and loyal to the locality.”
It is clear from our briefing that Nice Côte d’Azur Airport has created a commercial experience that is thoroughly in keeping with the character of the Côte d’Azur. It has been described as a “quantum leap” for the Riviera’s gateway, one that delegates at this year’s ACI EUROPE Airport Commercial & Retail Conference & Exhibition will experience for themselves.