Retail as Priority

Retail As Priority A call for keeping retail in the forefront during planning and airport operations BY Monica L. Rausch, Associate Editor March 1999 MIAMI — While airports recognize the potential revenue to be had from making...

• More than one manager: Retail employees have several "bosses," says Deknatel, which include not only the retail supervisors, but airport managers, security officers, and, in duty-free shops, customs officers.

• Out of the loop: Deknatel advises airport operators to distribute weekly or monthly news bulletins to let employees know what's going on at the airport; e.g., flight delays which cause an unusual amount of customers to flood an outlet, new airline schedules that change store hours, or the closure of certain areas due to construction.

Discouraging factors
Roger Berkowitz, president/CEO of Legal Sea Foods, Inc., says airports offer great potential for profitability and the chance to enhance a brand name. However, he describes airport bureaucracy as "mind-boggling," noting that "if you can operate in an airport, you can operate anywhere."

The agreements retailers need to sign, which he considers "the most restrictive agreements known to mankind," are stripping away incentives for food lessees to do business at an airport, he says.

Berkowitz, along with Alex Winiecki, senior vice president of Brookstone, a retail chain dealing specialty items, and Chip Wade, executive director of non-traditional development for the restaurant chain T.G.I. Fridays, say that with brand names, keeping consistent customer service and management at locations both in and out of airports is important. This consistency sometimes makes it difficult to work within the restrictions some airport authorities place on them. Operators of both Fridays and Brookstones have walked away from some opportunities to locate at airports because of operating restrictions or the fact that they were assigned locations not deemed ideal.

Also, when setting revenue goals, Winiecki advises retailers and airports alike not to put too much value on enplanements and keep in mind that operating costs are higher at airports.

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