Stellar eyes 70% shops comeback by December

By Luke Barras-hill |

Sol Shades at Orlando International Airport.

US airport retail Stellar has confirmed that approximately 50% of its units are currently open and it expects that percentage to rise to 70% in December.

The Tampa-headquartered firm runs more than 180 stores including news and convenience shops and speciality boutiques offering local, regional and international brands.

Speaking to TRBusiness in an illuminating interview for the April e-zine, Padraig Drennan, President and Chief Executive Officer said: “We predict that this year will be a year of two halves.

“The second half is when we begin to experience the incremental increases that hopefully will get us to 70% by the end of the year.”

Padraig Drennan, President and CEO, Stellar Partners.

US AIRPORT RETAIL: PERPETUAL CHANGE

Drennan stresses that the Covid-19 pandemic has ‘forever changed’ travel retail and specifically airport retail.

He says the airport retail business model should be reimagined and and refocused to negate what he views as unsustainable high costs and low margins.

“The pandemic has magnified this issue, but it preceded the economic and travel fallout,” he told this publication.

Having joined Stellar in 2017 as COO and President, Drennan took over as CEO from veteran Susan Stackhouse in 2019.

Armed with a solid strategy for growth, Drennan led Stellar to achieve more than $260 million in sales in 2019.

Before the Covid-enforced shutdown of international air transport, he oversaw a number of high-profile acquisitions including of Avila Retail Development & Management and Pacific Gateway Concessions that expanded Stellar’s retail footprint considerably.

“Acquisitions expanded and diversified our portfolio, but now we’re focused on surviving this dramatic downturn in business so we can be ready for the return of travel,” continued Drennan.

“We have made a variety of decisions on the key pillars of our business, including re-imagining our digital strategy to drive enhanced meaningful shopping experiences by putting choice at the forefront and creating scalable solutions.

“Moreover, we adjusted our product assortment to accommodate the emerging needs of short-haul domestic travel with a focus on the leisure traveller in response to the change in travel habits. We are also looking at the evolving needs of the long-haul international traveller in the recovery.”

To read the full interview with Stellar, see the Leading Americas Operators report within the TRBusiness April e-zine.

Main image: Indigenous Mosaic at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport.

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