‘People are key’ at Nice Airport as redevelopment concludes

Nice Airport Terminal 2 Hall 2 after the revamp

Staff are the key to a successful airport retail environment, according to Nice Airport chief commercial officer Filip Soete.

People have always been key to the retail industry, but Soete’s comments came as he presented the results of Nice’s recent redevelopment programme.

Speaking to members of the media during the TFWA Asia Pacific Exhibition in Singapore last week, Soete revealed the four-year revamp project was completed with the opening of the Estivale restaurant in April this year.

However, despite the multi-million pound upgrade and new brands and retail spaces on offer, the Frenchman believes the staff are vital part of the travel retail operation at the airport.

“Everyone working in the airport is the face of the airport and the face of the Cote d’Azur,” he said.

To that end, Nice Airport runs Mystery Shopper schemes which reward the best-performing teams with vouchers to be spent in the GTR outlets.

Paul & Shark worldwide travel retail director Catherine Bonelli related an example of best practice from her team in Nice. On spotting a pilot who was a regular customer at the store, the Paul & Shark team notified their bosses who arranged for a personalised keyring to be made for him.

Redevelopment at Nice

“The only problem is that we had no more space,” Soete joked as he reviewed the changes made at his airport in recent years.

Daniel Wellington opened its first pop-up at Nice Airport

The redevelopment of Terminal 2 included the addition of a more than 3,000sqm extension to the Schengen area of the terminal and a non-Schengen extension of more than 1,000sqm. The Schengen extension included the introduction of an F&B mezzanine level. It was an idea which, Soete admits, was not immediately popular with food outlets whose owners feared passengers would not go up there. “They do,” Soete reaffirmed.

The new openings at the airport include 26 F&B outlets which are now drawing in people from the city who want to make the most of the eateries at the site. There are also 33 retail outlets, six duty free stores and 12 service locations. Included in this are four pop-ups which will remain in place for the next year. There is space for one more pop-up still to be announced.

At the end of March Daniel Wellington opened its first pop-up in the Schengen area of Terminal 1, at the same time jewellery brand Misaki and food outlets Monsieur Albert and Koksi opened in Terminal 2. Soete believes the 12-month period will allow the brands to become established at the site.

Nice Airport has undergone a large change in the last four years

“They have to pay the cost of the stand,” he explained. “They want to be there for exposure and with a one month stay it is too short.”

The brands look set to get exposure, with 13.3 million passengers passing through Nice Airport last year. This represents a 7.1% increase on the previous year. With the Airbus A380 flying through the airport seven days a week and a record 117 destinations on offer, including a direct flight to Doha, Soete and his team believe they are in a good position going forward.

The figures bear out their optimism. PAX at the airport is up 22% in four years and commercial revenue has doubled. The growth is driven by Chinese and Russian shoppers, who spend an average of €140 and €160 respectively.

The development work began with the revamp of Terminal 1 in 2015 and continued with a widespread re-modelling of Terminal 2 last year. The recent F&B openings at the site mark the end of the project. New additions include and Hermes and Saveurs de Provence regional and fine foods outlet, both of which opened last October, along with Europe’s first Joe & The Juice and a Jamie’s Italian outlet which Soete describes as “quite beautiful”.

Looking to the future, the airport is aiming for continued growth with a target 3.7% annual increase in sales. Last year it achieved 7.3%.