London Heathrow Airport will welcome a large-scale mixed category WHSmith store at Terminal 2 next month.
The shop, which is understood to be a ‘first’ for the airport and WHSmith [it is gathered the news, books and convenience retailer had rolled out a pilot proof of concept at London Gatwick Airport recently – Ed], will offer a combination of categories including confectionery, news and pharmacy goods. Its performance will be evaluated over a 12- to 18-month period.
“WHSmith won this as part of a market testing exercise for Terminal 2 and we are incredibly excited,” Heathrow Retail Director Fraser Brown told TRBusiness recently. “The rational is it makes it a much easier passenger experience to get all those essential travel retail items under one roof.
“For us as an airport operator, it is incredibly useful in terms of the efficient use of space. You’re not duplicating things like grab-and-go sandwiches, water or crisps. We’re really proud about what we’re doing and incredibly confident given the work we and they [WHSmith] have done that this will be well received by passengers.”
CASHLESS PAYMENTS AT ALL SHOPS
WHSmith, which already has experience operating pharmacy units via its partner ‘Well Pharmacy’ in selected stores, has been approached for comment. At Heathrow Airport, WHSmith is present with 11 stores across Terminal’s 2 and 5.
More than 50 retail and F&B units have now reopened across Heathrow’s estate in line with the UK government’s relaxation of restrictions on non-essential retail trading. Among the shops open are World Duty Free at Terminal 2 and Terminal 5.
“It will be a gradual reopening, with each retailer and business partner working with us to make sure their front of house is safe for colleagues and passengers travelling,” said Brown.
All shops, cafes and restaurants now accept cashless payments and customers can take advantage of an entirely contract-free experience via the Heathrow App and Heathrow Boutique service.
“One of the challenges out of Covid-19 will be with more and more touch-free retail I would expect there to be even less demand for physical notes and coins,” observed Brown. “In our Heathrow Boutique, where we make available a lot of our products for reserve & collect, we are seeing more and more retailers keen to engage.”
Heathrow currently offers the option to pre-reserve and pre-order items and takeaway food to collect on arrival at the airport, with the Heathrow app enjoying more takeaway food orders last week than in the whole of 2019.
“Grab-and-go food has been incredibly successful; at the main Pret a Manger store at Terminal 5, passengers love the offer,” commented Brown. “As airlines have moved away pre-Covid from offering free food and beverages, particularly on short-haul flights and even reducing down on long-haul flights, for airport operators that has been an opportunity to bring in high-quality food, delivered excellently by great operators.” [click here to watch an exclusive video interview with Retail Director Fraser Brown who explains more about the services].
The UK government’s ‘Eat out to Help Out’ 50% discount on food orders is also available at participating outlets such as Pret a Manger and Caffé Nero.
Ross Baker, Chief Commercial Officer, Heathrow stated: “Heathrow is ready for another summer getaway season, with new technology and processes now in place to ensure our passengers are safe to fly.
“With our departure boards filling up with short-haul, low-cost destinations, travellers may be surprised with what’s on offer at the UK’s hub airport and find themselves at Heathrow’s doors for the first time.
“Whether you are new to the airport, or if we are welcoming you back, Heathrow is ready to help you travel to reunite with your friends and family, to visit somewhere exciting and new, or to find some much-needed calm and relaxation.”
For more commentary and analysis on Heathrow Airport, watch out for the TRBusiness Top 10 Airports report, available soon.