Schäfer reveals strong business pipeline for 2020

By Andrew Pentol |

Schafer-small-new-for-web

TRBusiness was the sole travel retail media in attendance for the unveiling of the 100sq m Pier A store and 79sq m Pier B outlet at DUS.

Schäfer Airport Retail is looking to open a further 10 ‘Move’ stores in 2020 following the official inauguration of two new outlets at Düsseldorf International Airport (DUS) last month. A third outlet is due to open at the airport in March 2021.

As reported, TRBusiness was the sole travel retail media in attendance for the unveiling of the 100sq m Pier A store and 79sq m Pier B outlet at DUS, which handled 25.5 million passengers in 2019.

Founded in 2003, The Schäfer Group expanded its line of business in 2018, to include airport retail, as first revealed by TRBusiness.

In addition to the new DUS stores, Schäfer Airport Retail operates two shops in Stuttgart Airport (one airport and another landside), one shop in Hannover Airport (landside), a shop-in-shop in Cologne Bonn Airport (landside) and a temporary airside outlet in Nuremberg Airport.

Currently, the Nuremberg outlet is located at non-Schengen immigration, but will move to a new location opposite the duty free store before the start of the summer season.

AIMING HIGH

Joachim Schäfer, Managing Director, Schäfer Airport Retail GmbH, who founded The Schäfer Group in 2003 told TRBusiness the company is aiming to be the second largest electronics travel retail player in the next two years.

[Click the below video from the official inauguration of the Schäfer Airport Retail stores in Düsseldorf Airport]

He commented: “Becoming the second biggest player in electronics travel retail is a clear target. This is certainly achievable because the concept is so modern and we have a six to nine-month head-start on the competition.

“This means, that if somebody wants to copy our concept, it will take them at least six to nine months to reach the same stage, as there is a lot of technology involved.”

‘AHEAD OF BUDGET’

John Woodhouse, Managing Partner, Schäfer Airport Retail who has worked for the likes of Aer Rianta International and DFS Group during his long career in the channel told TRBusiness: “Turnover last year was higher than forecast. We are ahead of budget in terms of turnover as a company.

“It is normally impossible for a newcomer to achieve double-digit turnover and be profitable at the same time. I am pleased to say we are a profitable $10m business.”

John-WoodhouseHaving already implemented furniture in several African airport and downtown duty free stores in countries such as Angola and Ethiopia, overseas expansion is firmly on the agenda.

Woodhouse (pictured left) said: “In Africa, we have furniture in seven stores and distribution right across Central Africa. We have also signed agreements to open two stores at an unnamed Asian location. These outlets will open later this year, depending on the impact of the coronavirus.”

Following the opening of the first two DUS shops, Schäfer is confident of agreeing many more contracts once the DF&TR industry sees the concept. “Our business pipeline is quite strong,” he remarked.

Currently, the Schäfer Airport Retail business split is 70% stores and 30% distribution, but the aim is to convert trading customers into store customers, emphasised Schäfer.

Reflecting on the evolution of the company, Woodhouse says it is changing from a distribution to retail business. “We are not retailers, but are helping travel retailers become electronics operators. We are giving retailers the capability to triumph in airport tenders and providing them with a good looking and successful electronics store concept.”

With no furniture from brands in any of the stores, tweaking the assortment is fairly straightforward. Woodhouse explained: “If a brand is not performing, we can replace it with one which will be stronger. We can be nimble and change a brand in around an hour.

“This involves re-planograming, taking out the brand which is not functioning and putting in a new one. The process is even easier as we use screens rather than lightboards. The screens can be automatically changed centrally from head office.”

Schafer-Cologne-store

An exterior shot of the company’s Cologne Bonn Airport landside store which is operated by German travel retailer Kirschner Airport Shops. 

Moving forward, the brand portfolio in each store will evolve, much like the design of the ‘Move’ concept and several other elements.

“Our store design has already evolved,” Woodhouse remarked: “The store in Cologne is iteration two and the stores in Düsseldorf are version four. We are constantly improving and changing. We are not able to sit back and say, ‘well that is okay, now we can rest.’

“Joachim and I are quite self-critical and always believe we can do better in-store and improve the way things are done.”

Schafer-Airport-retail-rendering

The design of the ‘Move’ store concept has evolved significantly since its inception.

While the name of the company, suggests airports are the main focus, this is not strictly true. “We have been exploring opportunities to put ‘Move’ stores in border shops. The beauty of border stores is that they tend to be larger. This means you can dedicate more space and work through concepts very nicely.

“There are some markets with strong sales potential and we are exploring various possibilities,” Woodhouse concluded.

Schafer-Dusseldorf-Offical-opening

Left-right: Pia Martina Klauck, Head of Commercial Operations, Düsseldorf Airport; Joachim Schäfer, Managing Director, Schäfer Airport Retail GmbH; Gereon Kirschbaum, CEO, Kirschner Airport Shops; John Woodhouse, Managing Partner, Schäfer Airport Retail; Anja Dauser, Managing Director, Flughafen Düsseldorf Immobilien GmbH and Vice President, Property Management, Flughafen Düsseldorf GmbH; and Dr Martin Kirschner, Martin Kirschner GmbH toast the opening of the new DUS stores.

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