Analysis: Appetite to spend but value critical among FAWJ consumers

By Luke Barras-hill |

Heinemann Australia unveiled a striking new luxury beauty, fashion and accessories store at Sydney Airport in February 2023.

If the investment into physical footprints is an indicator of the robustness of the fashion, accessories, watches and jewellery (FAWJ) category, then you only have to spin the travel retail globe to get a sense of where opportunities currently lie…

In the last 12 months, news of expansions, refreshments and enhancements have cumulatively painted a rosy-cheeked picture of fashion, accessories, watches and jewellery (FAWJ) category health.

This year began with DFS’ phased opening of a luxury retail destination at China’s Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport with the phase one domestic Terminal 3A opening of its 21-brand strong sunglasses store featuring the likes of LVMH-owned Thélios, EssilorLuxottica, Marchon and first-time airport partner Kering Eyewear.

Hot on its heels, Qatar’s Hamad International Airport opened the Middle East’s first TimeVallée boutique, creating an all-Swiss enclave of luxury houses including Baume et Mercier, Cartier, IWC, Piaget and the first Watchfinder pre-owned timepieces lounge in the region.

Heinemann Australia upgraded the Sydney Airport Terminal 1 experience with a new ‘luxury universe’ that integrates FAWJ with perfumes and cosmetics, plus an expanded watches and jewellery range with country débuts from Breitling, Hublot and Messkia, among others.

Treading carefully on FAWJ spending

The search for newness in the fashion watch segment is spurring new ideas at E. Gluck Corporation, whose brand portfolio includes Anne Klein.

In March 2023, ATÜ Duty Free shared details of its 40% bigger, €1 million (US$1.05 million) expanded Luxury Square multi-brand fashion space at Istanbul Airport (see our feature on Istanbul Airport within the top 10 Airports report).

A Heinemann collaboration, it spans 1,263 square metres and includes a luxury streetwear showcase alongside a dedicated sneaker hub, plus a star roster of luxury brands from Alexander McQueen to Zegna and new travel retail entrant Vetements.

The roster of 2023 announcements come on the back of a performance-positive 2022, with brands and distributors aligned in their overall commentary.

“Asia was an obvious challenge, but the biggest highlight for us in 2022 was the rapid recovery of our cruise business,” said Rob Robertaccio, Senior Vice President, Global & Travel Retail Sales, E. Gluck Corporation.

“Current trends indicate that we are likely to get very close to or exceed 2019 business levels [this year] which is incredibly exciting. The decision to expand our Anne Klein Onboard Exclusives has paid off nicely with at least two of the styles becoming top volume sellers,” he added.

Northern Ireland-headquartered jewellery wholesaler Kurate reports “one of our best travel retail years in 2022”, with Travel Retail and International Key Account Manager Sharon Edwards attributing success to “building distribution outside our core airline market via airport and border shops, cruise ships and ferries, with the majority in the UK and Europe but also extending to North and South America, the Middle East and Australia.

“New fixtures are also opening up in Argentina, Abu Dhabi, Lisbon and Cyprus over the next few months with growth led by our Belle & Beau fashion watch and jewellery brand, with a freestanding self-select display unit designed to drive impulse sales,” she continued.

In March 2023, Heinemann unveiled two refreshed duty free and travel value shops at Bologna Guglielmo Marconi Airport with reimagined spaces feature an enlarged fashion, accessories, watches and jewellery area housing affordable luxury brands such as Furla and Coccinelle as well as exclusive global brands.

Commenting on the reveal, Christoph Stump, Director Sales, Heinemann said: “What we can see is people are willing to spend very well. Especially after the pandemic, people were spending more than before and that is what we now have to emulate with business development as people are starting to fly more often.”

The above are extracts from an article by Claire Malcolm carried in the TRBusiness June/July e-zine. 

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