Hudson Takes On LAX

Feb. 28, 2012

In late 2010 an ownership team comprised of four local Los Angeles companies, including Magic Johnson Enterprises, along with international travel retailer Hudson Group were selected by Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) to refresh the retail concessions program in four terminals of Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). Other partners are Concourse Ventures, The Zaman Group, and Soto & Sanchez.

The program includes some 21 news, gift, book, and specialty retail stores, totaling 20,716 square feet of space in Terminals 4, 5, 7 and 8.

Hudson Group president/CEO Joe DiDomizio calls the program “a large and important competitive win for our company... It’s all here for LAX: world-class newsstands, bookstores and specialty retail shops.Newsstand brands included in the proposal are: Hudson News, CNN Newsstand Los Angeles, I Love LA, LA Times Newsstand, People News, Entertainment Weekly News, and E! News. Bookstore brands include Hudson Booksellers and Vroman’s, a local LA bookstore.Specialty local retail brands include Rip Curl, See’s Candies,

Additional outlets include: The Mattel Experience; Kitson; NBC Universal Studios; Bartels’ Harley-Davidson; Hollywood Bling; a fashion boutique called Hollywood Style; and a new sports concept, Magic Johnson Sports. Luxury brands include Hugo Boss and Sunglass Hut.

For a Q&A for airport business, CEO DiDomizio shared his insights on key components of the LAX concessions program. Following are edited excerpts ...

On how the deal came together for Hudson and its partners ...

“Hudson Group and its business partners have been operating in LAX since 2003. So for nearly a decade, the company has been an active member of the Los Angeles community. As such, we have networked extensively and developed strong relationships with a wide range of organizations from all parts of the city. Embracing diversity in our partnerships is a core value of Hudson Group and is one of the foundations of our success in the industry.”

On securing the partnership with NBA star Magic Johnson ...

“We discussed companies that we thought would bring the most value to this specific business. We agreed that Magic Johnson Enterprises would be the ideal partner. We reached out to Magic and to our surprise and great delight, discovered that he was as interested in developing this business model as we were.

On how this program fits with Hudson’s overall airport portfolio ...

“The new brands and concepts that we will be constructing in the airport will truly be a breath of fresh air. In the RFP, LAWA made it very clear that they wanted all the new stores to reflect Los Angeles culture, style, and image.

“It’s important to understand that much of the infrastructure of the LAX terminals derives from the early 1990s. So we will be replacing stores that are nearly 25 years old. The local “look and feel” was equally apparent in the bookstores and specialty retail components of the bid.”

On the transition from old to new ...

“The transition from existing stores to new facilities takes a lot of coordination in any airport. But because this buildout involves 21 stores in four extremely busy terminals, the project will be more than a little complex. The most important consideration in a buildout of this kind is the continuation of service to customers throughout the construction period.”

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