Today has seen the launch of Jamie Oliver’s food offerings Jamie’s Italian, Jamie’s Bakery and Union Jack Bar , an exclusive outreach opening of the celebrity chef’s restaurant emporium at Gatwick airport. This food retailer appears to be first off the starting blocks to create a retail destination for an extraordinary amount of passengers expected this summer.
With whimsical references to a traditional British culture with a bespoke Union Jack menu, the restaurants will be a hook to a whole host of international consumers with ready cash in their handheld luggage.
High end jeweller Links of London has released a line which will also play on English sensibilities to commemorate the Olympic Games, entitled: ‘London 2012 Jewellery collection’.
Gareth Warwick, Associate Director for Travel Retail at specialist retail consultancy group Egremont, believes that retailers with a world strong reputation will be in the best position to benefit from this sports event.
He told Retail Gazette:”Amazingly, 250,000 Chinese tourists are expected to travel here for the games and they’re renowned for average retail spends in the UK in excess of £600 per trip and have a staggering penchant for high end product.
“Travel retailers will benefit but brands like Harrods who have high end exposure in most international terminals will be well positioned to win.”
If a retailer does not specialise in travel commodity items, how does it hope to engage with a consumer at the airport to ensure its sales soar? Due to restrictions in retail space at UK airports, brands have sought exposure through the novelty pop up route, a concept that has taken off in recent years.
The concept allows a retailer to work around the space issues presented in a terminal and Warwick told Retail Gazette: “I think flexible space and pop ups in airports are the way forward.
“It gives an opportunity to bring new and exciting brands and experiences to a passenger often jaded by seeing the same things again and again.”
However, should the onus always be on the airport provider to create a dynamic environment or should it be that the retailer has a responsibility to stand out from the crowd through innovation? This is an especially important consideration at a time of such national significance.
Spencer Sheen, Head of Retail at Gatwick Airport, thinks it is important for the brand to establish itself in the space and he works with them to ensure they meet the needs of the customer in a platform so different to the high street.
He told Retail Gazette: “It is important that each brand is able to strongly express their brand identity at Gatwick and therefore each brand uses their own design team to develop the concept for their retail space.
“However, Gatwick needs to be able to ensure that the overall environment is cohesive and provides an excellent experience for our passengers and so we work closely with each retailer, providing a set of design guidelines that they can work within that balances the brand’s identity with Gatwick’s.”
With this in mind, electricals retailer Dixons has marketed its brand with a different approach for the traveller, seeing them as a more affluent customer with specific wants compared to the average one on the high street. Dixons Travel is the name given to its outlet stores rolled out at key airports across the country.
Two pop up stores were opened at Gatwick North and East Midlands airports in March this year, known as ‘Add’ shops. Play tables were installed to allow shoppers to try out merchandise before committing to spend and more aspirational products were on offer such as headphones, tablets and SLR cameras.
Natalie Hilborne, Marketing Manager at Dixons Retail, told Retail Gazette how these standalone stores are very popular with the travelling consumer.
“Customers love them, and we have been delighted with their performance,” she said.
“Their flexible formats mean we can seek opportunities for growth in other airports throughout Europe. “
The retailer has also focused in on the smaller, more compact products in its range at the airport. Re -tailoring your goods for the traveller is one place to start, although there still needs to be an emphasis on delivering excellent customer service in a suitable atmosphere.
Hilborne explained: “A customer’s wants and needs - and the time that they spend in a store - vary when it comes to shopping whilst travelling.
“Smaller, portable items are obviously key to our range, and as entertainment, communication and imaging are key for holidays, these categories play key roles.
“However, we apply the same principles of design: Focus on the customer, a combination of Value, Choice and Service, and an easy to navigate, exciting shopping environment. “
Warwick, who has worked extensively for BAA and operated brands such as Sunglass Hut, believes that travel retail needs to offer an improved gateway for brands to offer a truly memorable London 2012.
He said: “The challenge will always be for the airports to find the space in their capacity constrained which is a shame.
“It is a challenge they need to overcome to make sure travel retail keeps improving as an exciting and inspiring retail environment.”
Sheen believes that Gatwick’s £1.5 billion investment in expanding its retail offer differentiates it from competitors.
He told Retail Gazette: “We are trying to compete to become the London airport of choice; that is our mission and our strategy and therefore anything we do we have to think about the quality that we can deliver for the passenger.
“Jamie Oliver’s restaurants have come from asking the passengers what they want. We have then been able to go out and get what we think is the best there is in the UK in times of offering this type of restaurant and this type of operation.
“I think it is a real statement in terms of how Gatwick is starting to change. This has helped us change the game in terms of what we bring to customers across the retail offer.”