“Innovating to adapt store concepts and commercial strategies to new customers and trends”

Lagardère Travel Retail is Gold Sponsor at this year’s ACI EUROPE Airport Commercial & Retail Conference & Exhibition. Ahead of the event, Dag Rasmussen, Chairman & CEO, Lagardère Travel Retail, shared some insights with Ross Falconer.

Dag Rasmussen, Chairman & CEO, Lagardère Travel Retail: “We feel that there is a need for more flexibility globally in our industry, in order to adjust quicker and better to emerging trends, or react to external events. We regularly engage with our partners on this topic, in order to define the best business model for the industry to grow both revenue and satisfaction of all stakeholders.”

The duty free & travel retail business model is evolving, with new consumer profiles and new purchase patterns. Innovation, agility and customisation are key to continued success in the channel.

“We are pushing for the introduction of new brands, especially local ones, new products and new services, agility with continuous adjustments, and the reallocation of space and customisation of each outlet to the evolving needs of our travellers,” says Dag Rasmussen, Chairman & CEO, Lagardère Travel Retail. “We feel that there is a need for more flexibility globally in our industry, in order to adjust quicker and better to emerging trends, or react to external events. We regularly engage with our partners on this topic, in order to define the best business model for the industry to grow both revenue and satisfaction of all stakeholders. This is the only way the industry can keep innovating and offering travellers a differentiated experience.”

A key element in these innovation efforts is digitalisation of the airport commercial & retail offer, with tools aimed at providing travellers as seamless a shopping experience as possible. Lagardère Travel Retail, for example, offers a Click & Collect pre-ordering service, and a Shop & Collect service enabling travellers to pick-up purchases on their return journey.

“In-store, we offer a ‘phygital’ experience mixing digital and physical,” Rasmussen explains. “Digital screens can be found throughout the travellers’ journey to give them information about their trip or the products they are seeing. Staff are equipped with tablets to give enriched content and information to customers and help them navigate through the offer, for instance with a perfume app that helps identify the best perfume match. In food service, we also offer a phygital experience with a menu translation service and a chatbot enabling travellers to order food on Messenger.”

Meanwhile, to reduce queuing time, Lagardère Travel Retail is setting up mobile POS systems and, soon, self check-out. It is also extending the WeChat Pay and Alipay cashless payment solutions at destinations that are popular with Chinese travellers.

“Concepts deeply rooted in Venetian culture”

Lagardère Travel Retail is master concessionaire across the SAVE Group airports, following the joint venture established in 2014 and the acquisition of Airest in 2015. “We today operate, in joint venture with SAVE, all the commercial space at Venice Marco Polo Airport, directly or indirectly. This gives us great flexibility and the ability to adjust to the needs of the airport,” says Rasmussen.

A vibrant new commercial area was opened at Venice Marco Polo Airport in 2018, including a flagship Aelia Duty Free walkthrough store, a Relay outlet, two souvenir stores, and five new restaurants.

“Our objective with SAVE Group was to offer the best of Venice and of Italy to Venice Marco Polo’s travellers, while adapting to the different and changing customer profiles and catering for all the transformation phases of the airport,” Rasmussen comments. “We have been working hand-in-hand for more than three years in order to find the best solutions in terms of space, location, shape and concepts. Being in a joint venture, and real partners, has been a critical element of the success of this programme.”

SAVE was clear from the start that it did not want to have the same retail concepts as other Italian or European airports. Fashion aside, SAVE wanted to showcase new concepts designed specifically for the Venetian airport, or localised adaptation of international brands.

“The concepts are deeply rooted in the Venetian culture,” says Rasmussen. “We have worked with local architects and artisans to extend the Venetian experience to the airport, created a Venetian shop-in-shop at the entrance of the main duty free shop, and offer a selection of the best products from local and regional suppliers – notably in fashion, liquor and fine food.”

Looking ahead, Lagardère Travel Retail’s objective for 2019 and beyond is to continue pursuing growth and further development. “We will continue to innovate, to adapt our store concepts, services and commercial strategies to new customers and new trends, while reinforcing the CSR dimension of our strategy.”

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