Heathrow sales hit $2.4bn

By Doug Newhouse |

At the Trinity Forum in Bangkok yesterday, Brian Woodhead, Retail Concessions Director confirmed that Heathrow Airport’s retail sales hit £1.5bn ($2.4bn) last year, with the average passenger spend rising by 15% to £35 ($56.33).

Speaking in a session entitled ‘Driving innovation and partnership to enhance penetration’, Woodhead said it was important to remember that people do not come to the airport to shop, but if airports can get all the services like security right and keep passengers in a great frame of mind, then the ‘golden hour’ during which most have time to shop can be maximised.

But Woodhead explained that this requires an understanding of what most passengers want to do when they get airside and making these services and facilities easily available.

According to BAA/Heathrow’s research, the first thing passengers do when they are airside is check their flight status, use the toilets and avail themselves of the F&B facilities. Some 57.3% of all travellers through Heathrow are male and 76.4% of them are travelling alone.

A total of 89.7% of all travellers are also ABC1, with 42.2% registered as UK residents.

Explaining how Heathrow has increased its retail sales, Woodhead said that one of the fundamentals is obviously working with great retail partners. He added that Heathrow also tries to provide its retailers with as much information as possible about the types of passengers that they are going to be working with.

He also made pointed reference to the Heathrow ‘Journey Team’ which now comprises 60 individuals across terminals 1,3,4 and 5 who are there to answer passengers’ questions and address their general needs wherever possible.

Between them these 60 individuals speak 37 languages and while their function is not directly retail focused, he said several million pounds worth of retail sales were directly traced as being attributable to this small team from the advice and information they were able to impart of passengers during 2010.

He said that Heathrow’s Shop & Collect service was also making a major incremental contribution to revenues and last year BAA estimates that £750,000 ($1.2m) worth of sales were made to passengers buying bulky items like electronics which these travellers clearly would not have bought had they been required to carry these items with them on their trips.

Under Shop & Collect they were able to buy their items and pick them up from the shop on their return trip home.

Woodhead added that there are also great opportunities to build sales using an integrated approach, but he added that there are also examples of lost opportunities. He cited the example of a major advertising campaign for an unnamed major brand at Heathrow Airport where the regional manager didn’t even know that a certain campaign had been booked by the brandowner’s parent company.

Woodhead said that as a result Heathrow did not have the very product that was being advertised available at the airport and this was just a ‘wasted opportunity’ that could have been maximised with better communication between all parties.



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