Innovation and imagination at Hong Kong International Airport

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

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I’m operating out of The Moodie Report’s temporary Hong Kong bureau at the Novotel Citygate Hotel, my home during a fleeting visit before heading on to Taiwan tomorrow.

From my 17th floor room I have a breathtaking view that takes in Hong Kong International Airport; cargo-heavy container ships moving slowly across the South China Sea;  lush green parkland below me; the Ngong Ping cable car (which links Tung Chung MTR train station and Ngong Ping, site of the Po Lin Monastery and Tian Tan Buddha); and the beautiful mountains that encircle Tung Chung. Trains and boats and planes. There could be a song in there somewhere.

As I write, I can see the planes landing and taking off just about every minute from Hong Kong International Airport, a reminder of just some of the 60 million-plus passengers expected to use the facility this year. That spells big commercial business, of course, and the airport management and their concessionaires are among the world’s best experts in maximising it.

For the financial year ended 31 March, revenue from retail licences and advertising rose +11.1% year-on-year to HK$4,995 million (US$644 million), representing 38% of Airport Authority Hong Kong’s turnover and easily outstripping passenger growth of +4.1%.

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An even better performance is on the cards for the current financial year, despite a slight initial slowdown in growth (not a sales decline). But business has been encouragingly brisk over the past two months, according to Executive Director, Commercial Cissy Chan and General Manager Retail & Advertising Albert Yau (pictured above), whom I had the great pleasure to meet yesterday. Both kindly took time out from their hectic schedules, which are currently focused on the recent Registrations of Interest for 35 luxury brand boutiques in the East Hall.

That promises to be some tender. Interest was very strong, they say, and the results (due later this year) will surely provide a vibrant commercial tapestry of some of the world’s great brands. Airport Authority Hong Kong is also introducing a brilliant mixture of new food & beverage concepts and brands – you can read all about both developments in a forthcoming interview with Cissy and Albert on The Moodie Report.com and in sister title The Foodie Report.

The other great retail talking point at HKIA in recent months has, of course, been the transition of the anchor stores (liquor & tobacco; perfumes & cosmetics and airside general merchandise) to DFS Group, after the latter’s stunning clean sweep of the three concessions on offer last year. I’ve been through HKIA several times this year and monitored the work in progress – a vast and daunting assignment by anyone’s standards.

Now the work is nearly done. Cissy Chan says she’s delighted with progress and particularly pleased with the degree of innovation on display. I’ll be seeing it with my own eyes today when I walk the stores with that most expert of guides, DFS Chief Operating Officer Michael Schriver.

You can read my impressions online and in our next print edition soon. Just to whet your appetite, pictured below are a couple of preview images. Next time you’re in Hong Kong and want to visit the famous bar and restaurant area of Lan Kwai Fong, you won’t even have to leave the airport. DFS has arranged its very own version. I’m headed down there right now.

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