New duty free store at Tallinn ‘a walk in the woods’

Baltona Duty Free, a division of the Flemingo International Group, recently opened its duty free concession at Lennart Meri Tallinn Airport. The store design celebrates Estonian culture and natural heritage through a shopper journey modelled on a fairy tale walk through a forest.

Piotr Kazimierski, CEO Baltona Duty Free, and Nick Taylor, Director, The Design Solution.

The enhanced 980sqm retail space is a centrepiece of the airport’s major development programme, and expresses a strong local flavour. The main 800sqm duty free store incorporates Tallinn’s first walkthrough format and the core categories – liquor, P&C, confectionery, tobacco, and fashion & accessories – feature a strong local brand presence, including Estonia’s favourite confectionery brand Kalev, Liviko spirits, A. Le Coq beers, and Lumene skincare.

Two other new stores, totalling 180sqm, offer last-minute shops for transferring and non-Schengen passengers.

“Tallinn is a key destination airport in the region, so it is a vital part of our growing portfolio and it offers a unique expression of what Estonia is all about, including the pride of the people and the country’s natural beauty,” says Piotr Kazimierski, CEO Baltona Duty Free. “At 800sqm, the main duty free store is perhaps a big space for the size of this growing airport, but Estonia has some great local brands, such as Liviko, Kaler and Lumene, and this enables us to create something unique through brand personalisations that look engaging and appealing.”

The traditional ribbon-cutting opening ceremony was performed by Piret Mürk-Dubout, CEO Tallinn Airport, and Piotr Kazimierski, CEO Baltona Duty Free. Guests and shoppers experienced dancing in the aisles as traditional Estonian dancers performed across the store with a dance that reflected traditional forest fairy tales – the central theme in the store’s design.

Piret Mürk-Dubout, CEO Tallinn Airport, emphasises the airport’s holistic approach to the customer experience and its role in brand building. “Our whole airport is a concept, we really want to develop not only our brand building, but also Tallinn as a destination. Of course, we provide a high-quality service and comfort for the passenger as a foundation, but our aim across the whole airport experience – in everything from design to services to food & beverage – is to express the warmth and nature of Tallinn, and we want to surprise the customer in every area of their airport experience.

“For example, in our gate retail area our bookstore has links with the local library. We also have a local fitness brand, MyFitness, that operates the first-ever gym at a European airport, and we also have a branded children’s play area. The point is that these brand experiences not only give us new options for the customer and also deliver powerful local links to Tallinn, but they are actually commercially-effective too.

“In a way, we are even branding nature into the passenger journey by making Estonia’s natural heritage, especially the forests, as the central focus of this new duty free store’s design. This resonates with our passengers; it catches their attention, drives footfall and conversion, and brings them back to us.”

The main 800sqm duty free store incorporates Tallinn’s first walkthrough format and the core categories – liquor, P&C, confectionery, tobacco, and fashion & accessories – feature a strong local brand presence, including Estonia’s favourite confectionery brand Kalev, Liviko spirits, A. Le Coq beers, and Lumene skincare.

“Cosy – with a commercial edge”

The retail space was designed by London-based travel retail design specialist The Design Solution. It blends traditional elements of Estonian culture with leading-edge technology and has an emphasis on local natural materials, particularly in the use of wood.

“The design of the main duty free store was envisaged as absolutely integral to the airport’s pledge to be ‘the world’s cosiest airport’,” explains Nick Taylor, Director, The Design Solution. “We aimed to make it cosy – with a commercial edge. The design uses traditional elements of Estonian culture and has a huge emphasis on local natural materials, particularly in the strong use of local timbers to reflect the fact that around half of Estonia’s land area is covered by forests.”

The main duty free store journey is themed as a forest walk, including semi-private seating areas that provide a break in the walk. These are decorated with themed graphics in a traditional woodcut style that echo classic fairy tales. “The wood theme also blends brilliantly with modern technology through the huge digital screens that have wooden surrounds,” explains Nick Taylor, Director, The Design Solution.

The store journey is themed as a forest walk, including semi-private seating areas that provide a break in the walk. These are decorated with themed graphics in a traditional woodcut style that echo classic fairy tales. In a whimsical touch, the walkthrough pathway even features subtle decorative signs in the floor that guide shoppers through the store, like breadcrumbs guiding characters through the forest in a fairy tale.

“The wood theme also blends brilliantly with modern technology through the huge digital screens that have wooden surrounds. The first large screen is a great welcoming encounter and further screens are spread through the store to share promotions and messaging,” says Taylor. “We wanted the space to feel part of the fabric of the airport, giving passengers a seamless experience born out of a strong sense of place. To complement the natural, warm finishes palette of timbers, orange tones, and birch ply wood surfaces, we engaged local artists to bring another layer of Estonian culture, including graphics on the walls and the ‘secret’ seating areas. These are bordered by wooden slatted enclosures featuring products such as perfume bottles displayed in ‘ice’ blocks.”

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