What a good job LS travel retail has done on the first phase of its retail transformation of Rome Fiumicino Airport.
It’s always a privilege to spend time with a retail team during (or before) a major opening. And that’s exactly what yesterday’s event was, as the French retailer unveiled eight expanded and updated stores at the airport, almost one year since it completed its acquisition of Aeroporti di Roma Retail. You could almost reach out and touch the team’s sense of pride and achievement in the dramatic overhaul of some 4,800sq m of space in just six months.
Although well into its first year of a 14-year contract, yesterday was the moment chosen to celebrate step one in what appears to be a step change from one of Europe’s less attractive airport retail environments into what Lagardère Services CEO Dag Rasmussen predicts will become one of its elite.
Certainly there’s much to admire already. The Casa del Gusto stores (above) are no token gesture towards the concept of Sense of Place that airports and their passengers increasingly expect. Instead they are a full-blown, elegant and authentic expression of Italiana and of localised products from around Rome.
Across the whole offer, including the Aelia duty free store (above), there’s a superb range of wine (including some of Italy’s finest as well as some French classics in wine humidors); and a lovely range of other Italian drinks ranging from Grappa to Limoncello and vermouth. Plus there’s a great selection of Italian chocolates, foodstuffs and fragrances (highlighted by the beautiful Aqua di Parma boutique).
A highlight though is the Martini Bar, where cocktail barmen were concocting some delicious Martini Royales yesterday (half Martini Prosecco, half Martini Bianco and a good burst of fresh lime served over ice).
It was there that I sat on a barstool conducting an informal, impromptu interview with Dag and Séverine Lanthier, Director General of LS travel retail Italia,who, as I said in my last Blog, has led the project with huge dedication and passion over recent months.
The film was shot by The Moodie Report Multi-Media Manager Ed Lake, a creative whizzkid who’s young enough to be my grandson but already a brilliant film editor. You can see the results of his work next week, including a full video presentation of the stores.
Not that I sat on a stool imbibing all day. I even took a ride, Roman-style, on a scooter (below) as well as doing an extensive walk of the stores with the LS travel retail team.
Plenty of people in the industry believe the company overpaid for the acquisition but LS management don’t think so. Already the improvement in the shops has led to a double-digit rise in spend per passenger and there’s much more upside potential, they say, as traffic (particularly from China) continues its steep growth and further refinements are added, including the opening of a new pier in 2016.
Fiumicino, as Dag told me, is a key gateway to one of the truly great cities of the world. Views like that below (from my hotel’s restaurant) demand that Rome deserves an airport retail offer worthy of the city’s beauty. Now it’s finally getting one.