Grabbing the attention in Gothenburg

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World of difference: the bright new retail zone at Landvetter

I remember well the last time I was in Gothenburg Landvetter Airport (before this week). Running late for a flight, I recall my horror at the interminable security line, with passengers herded into a narrow bottle-neck at the end of it, before (much later) being spouted out the far end into an alley that turned out to be the shopping street. Then, a mad dash down that cramped, narrow row of shops to make my flight home…just making it in time.

I returned this week after making good on a long-standing commitment to commercial developer ASDC (the Swedavia-Schiphol JV that operates here and at Stockholm-Arlanda) to pay a visit, unsure of what to expect. I found a very different place – and a very different consumer proposition – than before.

Strange as it may seem, the security zone is now among the highlights. Not only is it more open, but it has the look and feel of a business lounge, with furnishing and lighting to match. OK, so you still have to take your belt off, but even that doesn’t seem so onerous with the friendly staff and the casual rather than staid, formal way they are uniformed. As with every aspect of the consumer experience, it’s the little details that matter.

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Fragrances are a key staple of the Nuance outlet – with strong promotions for the latest launches such as Invictus

After security, you emerge into a bright, open sun-lit commercial zone that’s a welcome break from the past. The wide central aisle and seating to the side are the benefits of a 1,000sq m expansion that pushed out walls on either side. The Nuance store is a world away from the previous unit, now without barriers, with good visibility and stop points to engage consumers throughout.

Fragrances are the clear star here – no surprise in a market where EU-bound passengers cannot buy liquor, and the brands have come in behind the big P&C presence here. There’s Capi here too, with its electronics concept, and Victoria’s Secret, one of the hottest brands in the airport world right now – and performing accordingly in the weeks since it opened, I understand.

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For me, the biggest leap forward is in F&B, with local concepts taking pride of place. The Deli unit at first glance appears to be a sandwich bar, but is part-bar, part-store for typical Swedish delicacies, and the Street Food unit is a twist on the food court idea from chef Marcus Samuelsson. There’s Joe & The Juice, a juice bar idea that is fast becoming a cult brand in the Nordics and is now expanding abroad. It started at Copenhagen Airport and is now both here and in Arlanda. Expect to see it at an airport near you soon.

In a perhaps surprising move, the company’s owners have so far refused to open in partnership with a specialist airport concessionaire, preferring to plough their own furrow. More complex and more costly it may be, but their devotion to the brand and their recognition of the airport as a location to develop it is great to see.

There’s O’Learys too, an SSP staple. But what I didn’t know at first was that this is a Gothenburg-made brand, now exported internationally.

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Expansion plans: Joe & The Juice

For an airport of 1.7 million departing international passengers, that’s a lot of diversity across retail and F&B. But that’s part of what ASDC hopes to achieve: more branded concepts, driving increased interest, and raising customer satisfaction levels and spend. The Gothenburg renovation is only complete a few months, and the consumer will be the judge of its success. But having radically altered the consumer experience from start to finish, Gothenburg Landvetter is well on the right track.

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