brands that are being deployed. For instance,
in LAX, JFK and Detroit McNamara we will be
opening later this year Porsche Design stores,
which sell accessories and fashion from one of the
most iconic global brands. In Denver international,
we will be opening also later this year a gourmet
hot dog and micro-brew concept called Steve’s
Snappin’ Dogs. Of course our iStore concept, which
sells Apple products, has great appeal nationally.
CUGASI: We represent a fair amount of local,
national and proprietary brands. In almost all
efforts, our goal is to create a sense of place for the
traveler, whether domestic, international, origin/
destination or connecting traffic. It is important
for an airport to serve the needs of its guests by
developing and introducing a mix that speaks
to the majority of its passenger base. From an
F&B perspective, it appears the pendulum may
have swung too far toward local brands, as some
programs are almost entirely local. This can be
problematic from a traveler perspective since many
travelers from other cities prefer known brands.
National brands are also much more likely to be
relevant for the longer term.
CAPPETTA: SSP was one of the first companies to
start the trend toward using local artisan brands
in its development. We are blessed to have an
international parent, with restaurants in so many
airports worldwide, that is a leader in local artisan
foods. Many of our successful North American
(N.A.) offerings (Camden Food Company, Le Grand
Comptoire, Upper Crust) were conceived by our
parent and adapted to the N.A. market.
Meanwhile, extensive client research suggested
travelers and city officials alike were becoming
fatigued with the same limited national brand
options in airports nationwide. Last, consumer
expectations have been on the rise; their
knowledge, taste and passion for good local food
Is there a discernible trend in the type of concessions that airports are requesting? More specialty
retail, for example?
BANDUCCI: We have seen the trend of providing
a mix of local/regional and national brands. In
addition, we are continuing to see trends for
healthy options and those catering to dietary needs
or preferences, such as gluten-free and organic
foods, as well as those that are convenient and
easy to take on the plane, such as healthy grab-and-go products.
SAMUELS: Most definitely. The specialty retail
trend has been the story of the past few years.
We do not see any diminishment of that trend.
As a wholly owned subsidiary of Dufry, an
international duty-free company with connections
to all the great international brands, Hudson has a
distinct advantage in this area. We are able to offer
airports a wide range of premier specialty retail
brands – such as Coach, Juicy Couture, Michael
Kors, Thomas Pink, Bulgari, Emporio Armani,
Montblanc, and many more.
SAVARIA: There isn’t an airport that I know that
doesn’t want to grow their non-aviation revenues
and provide a better traveler experience. Augmenting
the shopping experience is a great way to achieve
both, and, indeed, there is a movement toward
introducing brands that resonate with consumers to
support that and also to help mitigate the challenges
faced by the traditional news and gifts stores. Many
of the larger hubs have been relatively successful
with this approach, and now smaller airports want
to reproduce this experience, but the reality is that
in order to sustain specialty retail brands on a stand-alone basis, you need high traffic. So sometimes
there needs to be flexibility built into the agreements
to make the economics work.
CUGASI: As airports expand their programs, there is
increasing desire for specialty, which is challenging
from a business model perspective because
many brands have margin structures that require
relatively low rent in order to be viable. Many
airports are reluctant to offer lower rent structures
due to the relatively higher rents that were achieved
historically through convenience concepts.
CAPPETTA: Airports are seeking quality offerings,
service and resulting economics, while consumers
seek new experiences and convenience. It is difficult
to stereotype the nature of recent tender requests.
Are services being requested by airports as concessions — such as drug store, medical, entertainment
— that are outside of the traditional mix?
BANDUCCI: We do sometimes see unique
requests for a concessions program. For example,
we partnered with Chicago O’Hare to create an
aeroponic garden in the airport. In the O’Hare
Urban Garden, we grow vegetables, herbs and
spices that are used in our restaurants.
SAMUELS: We have yet to be convinced that
these types of services can be run successfully
in the airport environment to any great extent.
We seldom see requests for them in the RFPs we
SAVARIA: Airports are now looking at their