The airline boutique model will always play a role but its format is likely to change in line with shifting consumer demands towards more connected retail experiences, according to gateretail.
In a video interview conducted this month against the resplendent Cote d’Azur backdrop of the Jetée Albert Edouard, Port de Cannes, Zoe Farmer, Global Director Retail Management at gateretail said the past 12 months have been characterised by growth and innovation, particularly in its online pre-order platform.
Through what gateretail coins as ‘unlocking the trolley’, technology solutions such a pre-order can be used to offer a wider boutique and F&B range than is traditionally available via the inflight trolley.
To watch the full interview, click below.
“With digitalisation and the enabling of pre-ordering, the boutique trolley will not [necessarily] be onboard but brought on for pre-ordering. Once onboard, with the digital channel it gives the flexibility to the passenger as to when they order a product. With digitalisation, it also means you can offer virtual [only] products too.
“Those virtual products will grow and develop further […] but people always want fun and excitement to purchase onboard. Particularly during Covid we saw huge growth in the boutique trolley when the airport stores shut; obviously that has changed slightly now as the airport stores open up.”
The global leader in onboard retail and F&B services is part of Switzerland-headquartered gategroup, which boasts a footprint spanning six continents, serving more than 20 airline customers and in excess of 315 million passengers per year.
Farmer spoke about the journey that has taken place in gateretail’s activities to ensure the company was positioned to react flexibly and dynamically as it emerged from the pandemic by working closely with its global network of airlines and suppliers.
According to the Group’s full-year 2021 results announced in April, revenues climbed 35% to CHF 2.097 billion.
Of that total, revenue from retail on board* accounted for CHF 203.2m, registering growth of +33% year-on-year.
Christopher Schmitz, Chief Executive Officer, said at the time: “While we have no doubt that the airline catering and retail business will soon recover to pre-crisis levels, we see a clear material opportunity to develop the adjacent food services business.”
*Comprising the sale of food and non-food products directly to passengers