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The Moodie Report is on the move again – this time we’re back in Cyprus to view progress at the new Larnaka International Airport, opened last November.
First it was an early morning flit through London Heathrow Airport Terminal 1, which BAA now has operating a whole lot more slickly than in the past. I was through security in a couple of minutes and quickly into the commercial zone.
My first retail encounter was with a store I have been critical of in the past – The Nuance Group’s Chocolate Box. But this morning it looked good, as it appears to have been extended to the right to create an additional wall of brands, which then continues via a soft curve inside the store itself. Everything was much brighter and more enticing than last time I reviewed the store, and with the added allure of fresh Neuhaus chocolates under glass at the front of the shop, it was doing a very good trade.
Not half as good though as Giraffe, an excellent food & beverage outlet (licensed by The Restaurant Group) that I often use at T1. There’s something for most tastes in this outlet and the picture tells its own story of early morning demand (and yes, that man studying the well-placed menu did go into dine).
Another store that I have been critical of in the past is Glorious Britain but the T1 store looked alluring enough today. I think that neither the range nor the expression of Britain is particularly ‘glorious’ but the T1 outlet at least is a colourful, vibrant souvenirs store – I just hope by Olympic Games time in 2012 that London (and other British) airports will also develop a true destination offer to complement such outlets.
This will probably be the only time though that I feature the term ‘Glorious’ in any story that also features the word ‘Hamleys’. I’m sorry but this is a truly dreadful store. Cramped, poorly merchandised, uninspired, clunky fittings – shall I continue? I walked inside the store, towing my laptop briefcase behind me. The aisle could just about take two people at a time but not comfortably.
Hamleys is one of the great names of world retail; what on earth persuades its owners to allow this erosion of a great brand name? It also cheapens the image of airport shopping; making it look like squeezed up, cheapened versions of the real thing are somehow acceptable to travelling consumers.
Much better was World of Whiskies, the exemplary WDF-run specialist store, where I have never – and I mean never – failed to look in and see the excellent staff talking earnestly to their customers. That was the case again today and I am sure the knowledge and attitude of the staff (as well as the excellence of the range) translates directly to a much enhanced top line. Day in, day out, whatever the airport, World of Whiskies is one of our industry’s great specialist store concepts.
Over at the main World Duty Free store though I was again struck by the poor sightlines (below) across the store. As our photos show, many of the floor units are now at head height, which makes it virtually impossible to see across a store packed with an excellent range of duty free products. From a consumer perspective (unless you are an American basketballer) it is a significant deterrent.
From Heathrow, it was a four-hour flight into Larnaka International Airport. When I was here last November the airport was celebrating its inauguration, but I flew in and out via the old terminal. This time it’s for real and what a difference this new facility makes.
On arriving, the ambience is of a bright, airy and smoothly operating terminal. The excellent Arrivals store is right by the belts and there’s a second outlet that was offering summer promotions yesterday to drive incremental spend.
I’m here to review the new airport’s commercial progress (under CTC-ARI Airports) since its opening. I’m going to be particularly focusing on a unique destination concept called Kypriaka, which I think might rate as the industry’s best execution to date of the concept of Sense of Place.
I plan to truly get under the skin of the concept and see if it really does reflect this marvellous country’s crafts and culture. It should be a fascinating couple of days.
Last night I dined with CTC-ARI Airports Head of Retail & Marketing Martin Mullen (below), always good company, at Cambanella’s Steak Restaurant. Proprietor Dinos also works at the airport – surely a unique combo – and if his service there (he manages the VAT return business) is half as good as at his restaurant, then travellers to Cyprus are in very good hands indeed.
Dinos may well be an abbreviation for dinosaur, such are the size of his excellent steaks. For a first taste of Cyprus, it couldn’t get much better than this.