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Flying to Sicily for a few days’ break before Christmas, I spent a couple of hours at Gatwick Airport North Terminal viewing its commercial proposition.
As always, the Gatwick offer is a mixed bag. A curate’s egg, as they say. When it’s good, it’s very good. When it’s bad, well…
First, as one would say on Facebook, the ‘likes’.
World of Whiskies (World Duty Free): Looks good, is good. Great merchandising (I love the central whisky still) and the best staff in the business. Who says a leisure traveller-driven airport such as Gatwick cannot have top-quality stand-alone shopping?
World Duty Free Perfumes & Cosmetics: Open, bright, inviting. I like the lack of walls and doors and the sight lines are much better than in several of the same retailer’s Heathrow stores.
‘Shop & Drop’ campaign: Good stuff from the airport company, encouraging travellers to buy on departure, collect upon return.
Chanel pop-up store: Near to the main perfumes & cosmetics store but enjoying its own concourse location, this nicely presented, elegant pop-up store (and elegance and pop-up store are not always synonymous) does the business in every sense.
Advertising: Good use of highly visible advertising sites, including landside locations featuring tax free items such as Estée Lauder’s Sensuous Nude.
Tie Rack: I paid more attention than usual to Tie Rack this time, having interviewed new CEO Jo O’Connor (former WDF Commercial Director) a week earlier. I wanted to view (and buy from) the company’s new Black Label range and I wasn’t disappointed by its presentation or offer in a busy but immaculate shop. I bought a nice Ladies’ hat (for my young style-conscious daughter), a pair of men’s leather gloves and some socks and had plenty of change left from £100. I was very enthusiastically served too by the delightful Glady (pictured).
Gift wrap service: Well-positioned in the centre of the concourse and a great consumer service. Why don’t more airports do this?
And the dislikes…
Watches (World Duty Free): Maybe one of the most uninviting entrance ways to any watches department in a leading international airport? Oh dear. World Duty Free Group is much better than this.
Hamleys: ‘The finest toy shop in the world’? Pull the other one. This is a dark, slovenly mess that has no place in an international airport. I thought Heathrow’s Hamleys’ offering was poor but this sinks to a new low. I asked my 11 year-old son to review it (he loves Hamleys in downtown London) by Podcast. “Gloomy” was his first (and rather polite) impression.
“It’s really bad Dad,” he told me afterwards. Think London during the World War II blitz and you’ll have an idea of the lighting. Hamleys may be the finest toy shop in the world downtown, but here it ranks as unquestionably one of the world’s worst airport stores.