Cyprus Duty Frees insists consumers still hungry for instore engagement

By Charlotte Turner |

Richard Gray, CEO ARIME, tells TRBusiness in this exclusive interview how Cyprus Duty Free has become well known for placing the consumer at the heart of everything it does – including providing a range of truly unique and exclusive Cypriot products – and has been making strategic investments to ensure it continues to have the most accurate and up-to-date insights.

 

Cyprus Duty Free, which runs the landside retail and airside duty free businesses at Larnaca and Paphos International Airports, is the trading fascia of CTI-ARI – fully owned by ARI since 2014 – generating revenues of more than US$100 million per year and employing in excess of 500 people across both operations.

 

As reported, ARI and Hermes Airports officially inaugurated a €20 million/$23 million upgrade programme to transform the commercial areas at Larnaca International Airport in Cyprus.

 

CONSISTENCY IS KEY

The operator, which prides itself on providing exceptional customer service, last year employed the use of eye tracker glasses to gain a better understanding of how passengers viewed the retail offer at Larnaca and Paphos airports, as ARIME’s CEO, Richard Gray tells TRBusiness.

 

"[We felt] that there was a real hunger from customers to meet and engage with our sales teams," said Richard Gray, CEO, ARIME.

“[We felt] that there was a real hunger from customers to meet and engage with our sales teams,” said Richard Gray, CEO, ARIME.

“These eye tracker glasses allowed us to follow what customers’ eyes were actually looking at in real time as they passed through our shops.

 

“It was very interesting to see what promotional offers caught their eye, how they moved through the shops and interacted with our team. From this, we were able to make some key changes that will be beneficial to ensure we are providing the best offerings leading into a busy summer period.”

 

As reported, Aer Rianta International (ARI) company CTC-ARI – operating as Cyprus Duty Free – has signed up as Host Sponsor for the TR Consumer Forum 2022.

 

Gray reiterates that ‘delivering exceptional customer service’ is at the centre of everything the company does. “Through in-depth insights we know what our customers’ wants and needs are and ensure we deliver this every time they shop with us.

 

FINDING THE RIGHT BALANCE

“With a focus on sense of place, we believe that our offering provides a focus on great value, exclusives and the very best international and local brands to choose from.”

 

Throughout the year the operator carries out various different types of research with its customers, holding feedback sessions on the shop floor on a regular basis. Of course, in order to cater to the changing consumer preferences, Cyprus Duty Free continues to enhance its digital services, but Gray makes it clear that these must complement experiences instore.

 

“Digital plays an important role in our overall marketing mix. It complements experiences in-store and enhances how we communicate with our customers, especially before they travel.

As reported, ARI and Hermes Airports inaugurated a €20m Larnaca Airport transformation in October last year.

As reported, ARI and Hermes Airports inaugurated a €20m Larnaca Airport transformation in October last year.

“However, we know that customers definitely want the social aspect of being able to shop in-store and they enjoy engaging with our sales colleagues and experiencing excellent service. During 2021 we were able to carry out various tastings and demonstrations which shoppers were very pleased to partake in.

 

“The growth in digital will allow for further developments in terms of delivering excellent customer engagement and also will complement our sales colleagues through future innovative mechanics such as virtual try-ons etc.”

Cyprus Duty Free's Kypriaka concept allows customers to buy exclusive products not found anywhere else on the island.

Cyprus Duty Free’s Kypriaka concept allows customers to buy exclusive products not found anywhere else on the island.

HUNGER FOR ENGAGEMENT

Gray joined the TR Consumer Forum panel in September last year.

Gray joined the TR Consumer Forum panel in September last year.

Gray shares with TRBusiness that at the start of the pandemic ‘there were many people talking about customers not wanting to engage with sales colleagues’. However, this was not something that Cyprus Duty Free experienced.

 

“Our experience was quite to the contrary; [we felt] that there was a real hunger from customers to meet and engage with our sales teams; that customer service was even more important in assisting them in any way possible; not only when it came to shopping, but also in terms of their journey beyond our shops.

 

“This was important to calm customers down in the early days of the pandemic when many were not focused on shopping at all. So, one of the key lessons for us, is that shopping is personal and attending to the needs of our customers has become even more critical than ever before.”

 

Regarding the company’s long-term goals, Gray insists that these align with ARI & ARIME’s clearly defined Customer Value Proposition (CVP), which includes continuing to learn about its customers; to engage with them and bring exciting experiences that are unique to Cyprus, such as its Kypriaka concept, where customers can buy exclusive products not found anywhere else on the island.

 

Examples include the first botanical Cypriot Gin, the company’s award winning XO Brandy and its recently introduced Ovis Cypriot Malt whiskey.

 

“We have a number of new exclusive Cypriot product launches later this year to give our customers a real sense of place,” added Gray. “We will be introducing new technology that we expect will provide our customers with an even more engaging experience when they shop with us and we are confident that if all external factors continue to improve, then 2022 will be a very successful year.”

 

To be notified when registration for the TR Consumer Forum 2022 opens, or to be contacted for sponsorship/speaking opportunities, click here. 

For more information about Cyprus Duty Free, please visit its website by clicking here.

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