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As post-pandemic air travel volumes return, retail at the two main air gateways into Paris is set for a conceptual rethink with a greater focus on experiences so that passengers can “take time for themselves” and spend significantly more in the process.

Groupe ADP, the operator of Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Paris-Orly and Paris-Le Bourget airports—all three falling under the Paris Aéroport banner—is reshaping its entire retail, services and food and beverage offer through a new hospitality brand called Extime Duty Free Paris. The aim is to drive spending per passenger (SPP) to €27.50 by 2025.

Following a public consultation launched in November 2021, the airport landlord has selected its near 20-year partner Lagardère Travel Retail to become the co-shareholder of this future joint venture (JV) project for a period of 10 years.

Extime will operate close to 150 beauty, gourmet, tech and fashion outlets, primarily at Charles de Gaulle, the main international airport serving the French capital, as well as Orly—plus other global locations eventually. The entity will be 51% owned by Groupe ADP and 49% by Lagardère Travel Retail, subject to the approval of the relevant competition authorities.

Lagardère Travel Retail is one of two divisions—the other being publishing—of the media giant Lagardère. Last year, travel retail contributed 44.7% of the listed parent’s €5.1 billion revenue. In mid-June, another entertainment and media group, Vivendi, increased its share capital in Lagardère to 57% (though its theoretical voting rights remain below 50%).

The JV was crucial for Lagardère Travel Retail because the Paris airports business is the biggest for the company anywhere in the world. Retaining it allows the division to also retain its importance to its parent, and to Vivendi. This was reflected by comments on Friday from Lagardère’s CEO Arnaud Lagardère who said in a statement: “Huge congratulations to the Lagardère Travel Retail employees who, under the leadership of Dag Rasmussen, have put all their talent and pugnacity into the conquest of this great victory.”

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He also offered assurances: “I would like to reaffirm, with Pierre Leroy (Lagardère’s deputy CEO), our unwavering determination to build the world leader in travel retail and publishing, a dual strategic objective launched several years ago. The arrival of Vivendi in our capital— which… has enabled us to preserve the integrity of the group—is a considerable asset that will give us additional resources for this great ambition.”

Ratcheting up individual spending

Under the new Extime brand, Lagardère is committed to delivering higher SPP every year until 2025 based on plans from Groupe ADP. Considering that Charles de Gaulle Airport, in particular, already has a very strong luxury offer rooted in Parisienne and French culture and know-how, how this will be elevated further remains to be seen.

Last year, SPP (airside shop sales divided by the number of departing travelers) at Paris Aéroport stood at €21.60, up by almost 10% compared to 2019, despite the closure of non-essential businesses for two months. Groupe ADP says this was due to the concentration of passenger flows in its better-performing terminals.

The rise is in line with a pandemic trend of higher SPPs across several big European hubs. London Heathrow has described this per-head increase as a “market distortion”, most likely a reflection of an atypical passenger profile. However, Groupe ADP is determined to capitalize on the lift and is targeting year-over-year increases.

In February, Groupe ADP set out its ambitions for retail as part of a strategic road map called ‘2025 Pioneers’. At its heart is the idea of creating a sustainable airport environment and also establishing “the world’s number one hospitality and retail franchise” through Extime.

Among the highlights are:

  • Human scale airside zones with a path of six minutes maximum to the shops
  • A strong local footprint
  • A singular take on architecture and interior design/styling
  • Better integration between retail areas and the departure lounge
  • Scaling up of personalized services and events
  • Improved price positioning.

What will also help to achieve the higher SPP levels is a definition change. The current scope covers airside shops but the news scope, beginning this year, includes a very wide range of airside activities (shops, bars and restaurants; foreign exchange and tax refund counters; commercial lounges; VIP reception; plus advertising and other paid services).

If successful in Paris, Group ADP will deploy the Extime franchise within the group’s other airports where potential exists. The company said that its preferred regions are the United States, Asia and the Middle East.

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