Irish Aer Rianta opens up Portugal’s airport retail sector with new contract

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Irish international travel retailer, Aer Rianta International (ARI), has won a seven-year contract to manage retail operations at Portugal’s main airports, including the country’s busiest continental gateways, namely Lisbon, Porto and Faro.

ARI has been selected by ANA Aeroportos de Portugal (ANA), part of the global Vinci Airports group, to form a joint venture to operate a portfolio of eight duty-free and duty-paid retail concessions. ARI will replace Dufry, the world’s largest airport retailer, as ANA’s retail joint venture partner.

The contract starting in June covers Lisbon, Porto and Faro, as well as airports in Madeira, Madeira and Porto Santo, and three on the Azores islands: Ponta Delgada, Sta Maria and Horta.

ARI – a subsidiary of public airport operator DAA which runs Ireland’s main gateways to Dublin, Cork and Shannon (home to the world’s first duty-free shop, opened in 1947) – declined to reveal the estimated value of the contract over its seven-year lifespan.

By way of comparison, when Vinci Airports took over its retail business in Portuguese airports through a 51% controlling interest in retailer Lojas Francas Portugal (LFP) in July 2017, he revealed that LFP – whose remaining 49% of the share capital was Dufry Group – had generated a turnover of around 200 million euros (226 million euros). dollars) in 2016.

At the time, LFP operated 31 outlets covering 81,000 square feet (7,500 square meters) in seven of the 10 Portuguese airports managed by Vinci Airports.

Over 100,000 square feet of retail space

The new concession starting in June covers more than 34 retail spaces, including large main-category duty-free shops, satellite stores and fashion and beauty units with a total area of ​​more than 100,000 square feet (9 500 square meters).

Although the retail footprint is about a third larger today, retail revenues could be lower than in 2016 as passenger traffic is still well below previous annual levels. According to Statistics Portugal, 25.6 million air travelers were processed in 2021, compared to 45.3 million in 2016.

Yet a new partner should mean new ideas. ANA CEO Thierry Ligonnière hinted that credibility and sustainability will be at the forefront of the new offering. He spoke of “authentic retail experiences” that would combine local tastes and flavors with a range of international products.

“A significant victory”

In a statement, ARI CEO Ray Hernan added, “Such a significant victory as we emerge from a global pandemic is a testament to the commitment and skill of the entire ARI team. We will offer an exceptional tailor-made offer on all sites. »

Since 2014, ARI has had the advantage of having Nuno Amaral, the former CEO of Lojas Francas Portugal on its team, currently as Director of Operations and Business Development. As an expert on the Portuguese airport retail scene, he would have had valuable insights during the selection period which began last year.

Amaral commented, “We knew from the start of the pitch process that ARI’s vision, ambition and experience in travel retail perfectly complemented ANA’s innovation and service at its airports. We believe that ARI’s strong partnership philosophy with joint venture partners, brands and other key stakeholders will lead to the development of an excellent retail proposition in Portugal.

Details of the store concepts have not been revealed, but it appears a take on ARI’s “pre-loved” vintage fashion format, first revealed at Montreal Airport in Canada and new to the travel retail channel, will release in Portugal.

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