Hudson News Opens Shop in Virginia Airport Atrium

Hard news is turning heads at the airport.

Hudson News opened a shop in the middle of the second-floor atrium at Richmond International on Jan. 1. It's a temporary location until spring when the shop's owner -- The Hudson Group -- completes construction of four stores to be stocked with news, gifts and specialty items.

The retail makeover began last year when the Capital Region Airport Commission split in half the concession contract.

The Hudson Group won the other contract after promising to more than double CA One's annual news and gift sales from $ 1.9 million to $ 5 million.

Hudson has promised the airport $ 825,000 of its sales revenue in the first year of a 10-year agreement. Airport marketing director Troy Bell said Hudson's revenue share from news and gifts will be "substantially more" than what CA One provided, but he was unable to provide the exact figure last night.

"It just seemed like a pretty good fit," said Bell, who called Hudson "nimble, focused and cognizant of the market."

An industry expert said Richmond is falling in line with similar-size airports. "It's very unusual in medium and large airports to have one concessionaire," said Pauline Armbrust, publisher of Airport Revenue News, a trade magazine.

The Hudson Group is "well-known in the industry for bringing a depth of magazines, a depth of newspapers, and a wide variety of gifts," she said.

Airport officials said they were impressed by Hudson's partnership with a certified Virginia Disadvantaged Business Enterprise. Hudson is operating here as a joint venture with NIA Corp. of Chesapeake, owned by Rosa and Hugo Owens. The couple has similar arrangements with Hudson at airports in Norfolk, Roanoke and Rochester, N.Y.

The Hudson Group, which operates at 54 airports around the country, will spend $ 1.1 million for store construction at Richmond International. Nearly half -- $ 450,000 -- will go toward turning the old Jake's News & Gifts into its flagship store here.

The 2,421-square-foot location will include four stores within stores -- Hudson News, Hudson Booksellers, Kids Works and Discover Virginia. The store construction is expected to be finished by May; after that about 60 retail workers will be employed at that anchor location and three other stores.

Todd Tagnesi, the stores' general manager, said Hudson has "a great formula for success, which is why they're the No. 1 airport retailer. They know what works and stick with it."

That includes a big and bright appearance, he said, and an appeal to business and leisure travelers alike.

Kids Works offers children's games, puzzles and reading material. "When people are traveling with children, they need something to keep them occupied," said Laura Samuels, Hudson's communications director in East Rutherford, N.J.

The kid-themed store also has proved popular with business travelers who don't want to return to family empty-handed, she said.

Discover Virginia will offer souvenirs with a local flavor, stocking merchandise from the Science Museum of Virginia, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and the Museum of the Confederacy.

Calling it "top-end giftware," Samuels said it will provide "the last shot at buying a souvenir from the airport." Hudson runs similar shops around the country.

But providing news, magazines and books remains the heart of its business, she said. "Hudson News is the flagship," Samuels said. "That's where we got our start."

Tagnesi said he stocks more than 500 magazines and seven newspapers. Once store construction is finished, he'll close the temporary site in the atrium.

Asked whether he can hit Hudson's ambitious sales target, Tagnesi said, "Five million definitely is a reachable number."


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