Flying off the shelves

Jan 19 2014, 02:04 IST
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SummaryRetail at airports is an exciting segment for the industry, which is showing good traction in India as more and more travellers indulge in shopping. The new T2 terminal in Mumbai alone is expected to add 15% to existing sales. FE takes stock...

Chung wa tobacco, a favourite among Chinese nationals, always gets frontline display whenever a flight from China lands at the Delhi airport. Chinese literature and price tags replace the English ones, along with salespersons fluent in Mandarin, to cater to customers. The stores then scurry to make more changes to the merchandise once flights from other sectors start landing.

Similarly, when a flight from Japan lands, the literature is changed to Japanese and popular items—Indian destination merchandise like replicas of Taj Mahal, stones, artifacts, souvenirs—occupy the front rows at the retail counters. “Russians prefer hard vodka, so we line them up at the front whenever a Russian flight lands at the airport,” says an official of Delhi International Airport.

This is just one day in the retail arena of the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi. The hectic pace is common to all airports nationwide and across the globe, making retail at airports a dynamic aspect of airport operations. As Romy Juneja, chief commercial officer (non-aero), Delhi International Airport, says, “We are looking at shifting from a product-centric approach to that of a experience-centric one.”

Airport retail business in the country, which touched about R5,500 crore during 2013, is set to cross the R6,000-crore mark during 2014, according to Devangshu Dutta, chief executive at Third Eyesight, a retail consultant.

“The airport retail segment is seeing a year-over-year growth of about 15%, as an increasing number of travellers are shopping at airports,” he says.

The recently inaugurated terminal 2 (T2) at Mumbai is adding to the excitement for retailers, partly because of the added opportunity and partly because of the immense retail space—21,346 sq m—available. The experience of shopping at a swanky terminal is an added plus, and the new terminal is expected to drive growth by more than 15% annually.

Dutta adds that “T2 has a lot more retail space than the existing domestic airport at Santa Cruz. This, coupled with the wide range of merchandise, will definitely drive growth of retail at the Mumbai airport.”

Amit Burman of Lite Bite Foods, a subsidiary of Dabur that operates in the F&B sector and which will operate 32 stalls at T2, is bullish about his sales from T2, especially as the new terminal is expected to handle 40 million passengers yearly.

While the company plans to open 17 stalls by January 15, it will open the remaining 15 by

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