Fur flies as Copenhagen Airport woos Chinese visitors

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Gavin Lipsith

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I’m in Copenhagen to witness what is surely one of travel retail’s great events, writes Gavin Lipsith, a perfect example of what cuddly TV naturalist Sir David Attenborough might call ‘the Chinese travel shopper, in its natural habitat’.

Over the next couple of hours more than 600 high-spending Chinese passengers will depart from Copenhagen Airport – and the airport and its retail partners are primed and ready for action.

‘High-spending Chinese’ might be the most overused cliché in travel retail today, but in this case it’s no overstatement. Tonight’s delegation arrives at the airport fresh from Kopenhagen Fur, the world’s biggest fur auction – where over the past five days they have helped generate auction sales equivalent to €3,000 per second.

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[Co-branded CPH and Kopenhagen Fur guides are on-hand to help Chinese shoppers in their own language]

The airport might not reach that breath-taking figure, but along with duty free concessionaire Gebr Heinemann and its other retail partners, it will do its best.

Simplified Chinese signage has been rolled out across the airport and its stores, and offers have been honed. In the Heinemann store, the Chinese white spirit Moutai is prominently placed, as are the Chung-hwa cigarettes; George Jensen’s dedicated Mandarin-speaking sales associate is ready to draw passengers into the jewellery and silverware producer’s flagship airport location; and shoe retailer ecco is stocking up on smaller sizes demanded by Chinese travellers.

And, as I write, a band of China-bound high rollers have occupied the steakhouse where I am enjoying a pre-match morsel. A Mandarin speaker is on-hand to greet them. And if their bulging shopping bags are any indication, Copenhagen Airport’s focused event strategy is already reaping rewards.

That strategy is not just about being ready with signage, staff and promotions – it’s about a multi-level partnership that starts before the visitors arrive in Denmark, with full nationality data from airlines allowing the airport to know exactly when and from where Chinese visitors to the fur auction are arriving at the airport. And it continues at the auction itself in downtown Copenhagen, where the airport presents information packs and rebate cards to visitors, and has its Chinese-speaking guides on the visitors’ busses back to the airport.

The results, according to Copenhagen Airports, are spectacular. You can read all about them, and the innovative strategy, in this month’s edition of The Moodie Report China – out soon. For now though, I’m heading back to the shopping centre to watch this exciting new breed of shopper in action.

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[Chinese-preferred products including Moutai and Chung-hwa cigarettes, as well as items on promotion, are highlighted in Simplified Chinese]

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