Lagardère opens large-scale luxury offer in Chengdu Tianfu International Airport

By Andrew Pentol |

The new Chengdu Tianfu International Airport officially commenced operations on 27 June 2021.

Lagardère Travel Retail has opened a large-scale luxury offer in the new Chengdu Tianfu International Airport which officially commenced operations on 27 June 2021.

The retailer, which has a strong presence in airport and railway locations across China operates a dozen luxury mono-brand boutiques at Chengdu Tianfu, where China Duty Free Groups runs a 4,000sq m commercial space.

UK company The Design Solution has worked on all aspects of the design implementation. Each element has been sourced using local materials and built from scratch.

Eudes Fabre, CEO North Asia, Lagardère Travel Retail, who reveals the retailer has a strong fashion line-up at Chengdu Tianfu told TRBusiness: “The new airport is great and very well designed. It is very functional and well done overall.

“Flights are limited but will ramp up over the coming months. Chengdu Tianfu will become the main airport for Chengdu by the end of the year.”

STRONG BRAND LINE-UP

On the Lagardère offer itself, Fabre remarked: “We have great brands including some which are appearing for the first time in travel retail in a domestic setting in China.

“There is good potential in Chengdu, which is a very strong market for luxury, so I think it is a promising project.”

The luxury and contemporary fashion and watches, jewellery and sunglasses areas encompass multi-brand duplex stores and shop-in-shop boutiques.

Aside Chengdu, further openings are planned in China during the rest of the year. Locations include the new airport in Qingdao and the new Terminal 3 in Guiyang, where The China National Service Corporation for Chinese Personnel Working Abroad will run an 893sq m duty free store in the Terminal 3 international departure hall.

Fabre, who says top-end luxury brands are performing strongly in China, believes it is currently much tougher for mid-tier labels. “Brands with a good strategy or which have really localised their marketing are doing quite well.

“For us, the growth categories have been watches and jewellery which is performing very well, then as I said, high-end fashion brands.

“The beauty segment is also thriving, mainly because we have opened many mono-brand stores in [Chinese airports] and I think the retail format really resonates with our customers and travellers.”

During the pandemic, Lagardère has worked closer with landlords in China to serve high-spending consumers. “We have been rolling out our own network of VIP lounges in key locations. These are lounges that are a step above what is offered by the airlines. Essentially, we are giving high-spending passengers, especially business travellers another reason to shop at the airport.”

The beauty segment is thriving across Lagardère Travel Retail’s Chinese operations, according to Eudes Fabre, CEO North Asia, Lagardère Travel Retail.

In addition to accelerating its focus on the personalisation and premiumisation of the overall Chinese travel experience, Lagardère Travel Retail is quickening its development in smaller airports with strong growth potential.

“We are also expanding across the high-speed rail network in China [where we are currently present in around 30 rail stations]. The high-speed rail customer is becoming increasingly identical to the customer in the airport.

“There is a huge opportunity to really upgrade the brand mix and offer new product categories. This is something we are actively working on.”

The design scheme at Chengdu Tianfu reflects the city’s significance throughout history, says The Design Solution.

Currently, Lagardère Travel Retail’s railway business is more focused on travel essentials (news and convenience). The retailer is, however, pursuing opportunities with its luxury, beauty and fashion and accessories partners.

“We will leverage on our long-term presence in the railway sector where we have been since 2010. We have a solid understanding of that channel including the operating constraints and environment.”

*All images courtesy of The Design Solution which provided an advance preview of their design scheme for the airside commercial area in April.

See the full interview with Eudes Fabre in our China report in the upcoming July/August TRBusiness e-zine.

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