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As I write this Blog, 45 minutes before taking my flight to Hyderabad Airport on the next leg of my journey through India, Mr Shriram is sitting right alongside me. He has just set me up on the internet here in the HMSHost-run Time Out Bar in the domestic terminal, opened a few weeks ago. “It’s free wi-fi throughout the terminal,” he says proudly.
Free wi-fi is typical of the consumer-friendly offer here at the gateway to the state of Karnataka. What a transformation this is from the city’s old, faded predecessor in downtown Bangalore.
Today I took the journey by road to Devanahalli, where the new airport is located. There has been much local criticism of connectivity but once we hit the main highway (which runs all the way to Hyderabad but takes ten hours in case you fancy travelling by road on your next visit of Indian airport retail), I found the journey both smooth and fascinating.
I toured the airport’s commercial operations, in both the domestic and international terminal with Mr Shriram and his colleague Rajiv Kapool (Head Commercial Centre), while I also got the opportunity to meet newly appointed Chief Commercial Officer Manisha Grover (pictured).
I was impressed with the thought that has gone into the whole commercial offer – from a soon-to-be-launched valet parking service to an extremely diverse food & beverage offer.
I took lunch with the BIAL commercial team at the excellent Kingfisher bar, run by HMSHost. Executive Chef Murali Murthy (pictured below at the back of our group) offered up a tantalising fusion of east and west, and as he talked about the dishes on offer his passion, professionalism and patriotism were there for all to see.
The retail offer, most of it run by The Nuance Group and its powerful local partner Shoppers’ Stop, ranges extensively across both the domestic and international terminals. The BIAL team believes it is too soon to truly evaluate trends or the appropriateness of the mix. Some areas, notably fragrances & cosmetics, still await some stock and fittings. Others, such as confectionery, face significant supply issues (as in Hyderabad). In short, it’s early days.
Even so, it’s clear that Bengaluru represents a major advance in Indian airport retailing and food & beverage standards. The walk-through spirits and wine offer (see below), for example, is of the international class that one would expect from Nuance. And there’s a particularly nice shop-in-shop boutique from Indian designer Deepika Govind (third picture down).
There’s also an interesting first foray into the high-end watch segment, which, once completed, may set new standards in Indian airport retailing.
There’s more, much more, to talk about. But free wi-fi access or not, I need to shut down. My Kingfisher Airlines flight to Hyderabad – and another brand new airport – is saying last call. I’ll continue with my impressions of the fast-changing face of Indian travel retail tomorrow.
[More images from Bengaluru: Pictured below:]
– Chanel lends star status to the international terminal duty free store
The Nuance/Shoppers’ Stop International Arrivals shop
Accessibly priced Revlon and local favourite Lakme are proving winners in the Nuance/Shoppers’ Stop domestic cosmetics offer
The Shoppers’ Stop/Nuance fashion-dominated main store in the domestic terminal