Alpha Middle East and Asia Managing Director Paul Topping reports that business is strong in both Sri Lanka and India where the operator has duty free businesses at the airports of Colombo and Cochin respectively.
Alpha Orient Lanka (AOL) is also making significant changes at Colombo Airport to capitalise on this growth, as Topping explained: ‘We've a got an arrivals business that is up by 20%, a departures business that is up by 45%, so overall we are about 32% up. Tourists are 44% up, although you have to bear in mind that tourists are not the biggest part of our mix at this time of the year and overall our passenger growth is about 26%.
‘We've got spend per passenger up by 5% and penetration up by 7%, so we have had a good start to the year, although you've got to accept that some of those figures are compared against the tsunami. But if you take them against the pre-tsunami year, they are still up. So there is still positive growth and perfume is probably the smallest category, but the strongest growing here.
‘We've just announced that a Singaporean company will be doing the refurbishment of our departures shop in the new location [at Colombo Airport-Ed] and that should be ready in June. It is already proving to be better in penetration because it is located nearer the transit and transit is our fastest growing category of people.’
At the same time, Topping points to significant sales growth at Cochin Airport: ‘Cochin is performing about 50% up on the year and we've relocated our departures shop and they are now building a new departures terminal building. When we move into that we can have upwards of 20,000sq ft of retail space. They are basically sitting with us and we are designing the terminal with them. We're also working with companies like Diageo.
‘We think Diageo have shown their expertise in Europe with the research and understanding they?ve got of the market and some of the experiments that have been going on we think are good. There are also a number of other suppliers involved, but Diageo are probably the most active.
‘So all of that will give us a new fresh departures shop and in a new terminal which will major on gifts from India. I would like to see all of that under the banner of Incredible India, but there might be some issues with that.
‘The overall space will probably treble from the 2,000sq ft we have now and I am suggesting that it goes up to 6,000 and but don't use all of the space that is available, but increase it in stages.
‘We have done a lot of research to try and establish what we have got to do in arrivals where we have a 6,000sq ft shop which is about six months old. It has another 6,000sq ft above it and we've agreed that we will expand in areas like electrical.’