Overcoming crisis with brands, people and innovation
Paradies Lagardère Dining Division Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Jens Baake acknowledges the deep crisis that has engulfed the industry in recent weeks, but says the company has the track record of expertise and experience to build on its previous momentum in North America.
With a series of new concessions and openings across North America in 2019, Paradies Lagardère was braced for a continuation of its growth trajectory in 2020. But then the COVID-19 outbreak happened, with no company spared from the impact of free-falling passenger traffic and spend.
Dining Division Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Jens Baake says: “We understand there’s a great deal of concern regarding COVID-19. Paradies Lagardère is committed to providing first-class service to our travellers and business partners and we have a business continuity plan in place with a specific component designed to address pandemics. We’re staying updated on information from local authorities, the World Health Organization (WHO), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).”
It is important to note that this interview was conducted in mid-March, with events moving fast and more store closures occurring by the day. Baake’s views in this feature reflect a longer-term assessment of market trends and developments.
Once the market returns, he sees opportunities arising, with “airports looking for innovation, new brands and new ideas for their retail and dining programmes. Travellers are seeking more from airports than just a stop, but better customer service and experience. We’re ready to deliver.”
In 2019 the company opened a record number of new airport restaurants. Examples include Brewed in Dallas Fort Worth International Airport and Air Margaritaville, Detroit Street Cafe and Atwater Brewery in Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport.
Surf’s up: Air Margaritaville at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport was a highlight opening for Paradies Lagardère in 2019
Paradies Lagardère’s recent acquisitions are also integrating well, with the company upbeat about their contribution post-crisis. “Vino Volo is growing by leaps and bounds, with new business in Los Angeles International, Boston Logan International, and Ronald Reagan Washington National airports, and new stores in Greenville Spartanburg International and Orlando International airports,” notes Baake.
“In the fall of 2019, Paradies Lagardère marked the one-year anniversary of our acquisition of Hojeij Branded Foods (HBF),” he adds. “We’re the third largest concessionaire in North America with US$1.2 billion in sales and the most recognised operator in both retail and dining with the highest level of consistency and quality.”
Vino Volo has integrated well into the wider business and is growing fast in its niche sector
In another key development, Paradies Lagardère entered into a licence agreement with Starbucks earlier this year to develop and operate standalone Starbucks stores in US airports. “This marks the first time the brand will be available from multiple licensees since the very first airport Starbucks opened in Seattle 29 years ago,” says Baake.
Reflecting on the progress of Paradies Lagardère’s Dining Division, he states: “The openings are significant because they cover international brands, local brands, bespoke concepts, and address how we can bring the best in dining to airports throughout North America.”
Brewed has added colour and creativity at Dallas Fort Worth airport
Travel essentials has been an engine for growth in North America, and there have been many innovations in the category. “Travellers will always need basics – water, snacks, reading materials, gifts, souvenirs,” explains Baake. “But they’re also expecting more than the traditional news and gift shops. At Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport, we opened The Goods @ ATL in Concourse E. It’s a travel essentials concept, but we’ve added a lot of local products to give people a sense of Atlanta and Georgia.
“There are travel accessories, HBA [health & beauty aids] items, snacks, and beverages, but also an extensive grab and go selection of fresh food items. It also features a self-checkout option for those who need to grab something in a hurry, and PERCH technology that provides pricing and information on travel essential boxes with snacks and other items. Travellers with kids are finding this useful.”
Baake also notes key innovations at an illycaffè and Relay concept at Vancouver International Airport (pictured above). “It’s a full-service illycaffè providing coffee, pastries and a variety of other beverages,” he says.
“Adjoining the illycaffè is a Relay travel essential store. [It] is flexible, durable, and sustainable, with a new design that captures the attention of travellers, along with providing beverages, snacks and other travel essentials. These types of concepts aren’t just trends, I think they’re going to become standards in airports globally. Travellers don’t want to walk up and down a concourse to find everything they need – these concepts provide solutions.”
Paradies Lagardère’s thinking extends beyond the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak to major trends that will define North American travel dining this decade.
“Travellers will continue to expect delicious, high-quality meals,” Baake says. “They will want to see familiar, popular brands, such as Bar Louie, Chick-fil-A, Air Margaritaville, and P.F. Chang’s, as well as discover and taste local fare in the airport.
“Paradies Lagardère introduced the first Peruvian restaurant in a North American airport – at San Francisco International – with Limón Rotisserie, a local favourite.
“Healthy choices will also drive what airports are looking for. Travellers will want to see sustainability initiatives in practice, not just in talking points. Vino Volo continues to open up dual concepts that include a full-service restaurant and bar, as well as a market where travellers can purchase grab and go food items, as well as bottles of wine.
“Paradies Lagardère will work to bring airports and travellers the best in brands, people and innovation in dining.”
“Familiar, popular” brands such as P.F. Chang’s will continue to define North American airport dining
The Moodie Davitt eZine
Issue 278 | 7 April 2020
The Moodie Davitt eZine is published 12 times per year by The Moodie Davitt Report (Moodie International Ltd). © All material is copyright and cannot be reproduced without the permission of the Publisher. To find out more visit www.moodiedavittreport.com and to subscribe, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org