How Hellenic Duty Free carries out its national duty

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Martin Moodie
Martin Moodie is the Founder & Chairman of The Moodie Report.
Martin Moodie

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On my (reluctant) way back to England from my stint in The Moodie Davitt Report Interim Tinos Bureau earlier this month, I had the pleasure of spending some time in the Hellenic Duty Free Shops offer at Athens Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport’s new-look intra-Schengen zone.

I don’t use the word ‘pleasure’ lightly. I reported positively on the reopening of this retail zone back in May 2017 and my recent visit confirmed that favourable reaction. I recall at that Grand Opening how Hellenic Duty Free Shops CEO George Velentzas memorably described selling Greek products as a “national duty”, noting that some 30% of the products offered were Greek.

Well, I can certainly confirm that national duty is being carried out in the store. In fact, I doubt I’ve ever met airport retail staff more enthusiastic or knowledgeable about local products. The Hellenic Gourmet area pictured below (including the adjacent Korres Greek natural products boutique) was buzzing with activity (must have been all that Greek honey) and the sales staff were uber-keen to not only convert each and every browser but to trade them up.

I was going to buy one of the more mainstream (though beautifully packaged) olive oils, but was guided towards the more premium Hellenic Grocery craft line below. The sales pitch being suitably convincing, I bought it. Several Euros incremental spend just like that for less than a minute’s conversation. Imagine the impact on revenues of that approach repeated time and again during the week. Whoever is training these staff is doing a good job (as are the frontliners themselves).

I’ll let the pictures tell the story of a destination merchandise offer that truly does justice to the wonderful products that the great nation of Greece, replete as it is with such a bountiful breadbasket, produces. National duty? Perhaps. But also a national pleasure.

The line-up of customers (several of them Chinese) at the Hellenic Gourmet sales counter tells its own story.

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