Planet Positive Initiatives
Spreading the sustainability message at DXB – Pangaia and Lagardère Travel Retail
“We are a company at the start of our journey. Being in airport retail, and at Dubai International Airport, will help us tell our story and to spread our message far and wide.”
That’s how Mira Duma, Founder of Pangaia, described the significance of the eco-brand’s first stand-alone store at DXB Concourse B, Terminal 3, which was inaugurated in June.
The responsible materials science brand, which is just four years old, revealed a 182sq m store in the concourse in partnership with Lagardère Travel Retail.
The brand was born as an online, direct-to-consumer proposition, but its owners began to explore opportunities in physical retail as consumers returned post-pandemic. This began with partnerships with selected department stores from London to New York to Paris and Milan, with Dubai International representing a first standalone outlet.
Duma said: “The idea came from our good friend Talha Al Hashimi of HWH [in Q1 2022, Lagardère Travel Retail struck an agreement to acquire a majority share and controlling interest in Dubai-based HWH Hospitality Investments’ food & beverage operations -Ed], who said we should consider extending our expansion and mission to new platforms.
The busy digital screens on the exterior contrast with the muted, calm interiors
“We then met Dubai Airports who were also looking for something visionary, and ways to give back. This is what we are trying to combine: a commercially successful business with an Earth-Positive mindset, and to back more than we take from the earth.”
The custom-built terrarium is a central feature that draws the eye while natural soundscapes and an invigorating scent in the fitting rooms emulates the experience of being immersed in a forest.
The store has been mindfully designed around locally sourced finishes, natural materials and energy-efficient LED lighting throughout.
Of the product offer, Duma said: “It’s premium lifestyle with purpose. We talk about fashion being ‘for a reason not for a season’.
“It’s also universal: a t-shirt is something a three-month-old can wear, or a 90-year-old can wear. The same applies to the ubiquitous hoodie. Then you have shoes made of grape leather, and other ranges that are coming including socks, sleepwear, recycled cashmere – we’re soon launching spider silk cashmere – puffer jackets, scarves, hats, backpacks and wallets made of planet-based leather.
A buzz around the store for the inauguration in June
“These are basically essential items that many people in the world have in their wardrobes, that are comfortable, convenient, lifestyle and travel-related.
“We wanted to bring some amazing materials science innovations to a wider audience through products that are for everyday use.”
Lagardère Travel Retail UAE Chief Executive Vadim Motlik told The Moodie Davitt Report that the company was on the lookout for brands that would interest the changing consumer audience at DXB, and Pangaia also matched its own strong sustainability focus.
“It’s the beginning of a journey. Pangaia is looking at many opportunities, we’ll take a lot of input from the brand and there is much to optimise and improve. We can do much more in the coming months and years.”
Motlik said that the Earth-Positive message is a compelling one for travellers, with particular resonance for the increasingly young demographic at DXB.
“Pangaia does not highlight the negative, they highlight the positive impact that we can have. I like this idea and I feel there are many people who travel though airports, who love travelling, but who feel a little guilty about it. It shows that we can do good things for the world that are inspiring. And we were happy that Pangaia was willing to come into this environment that is not always considered the most sustainable.”
The project also chimes with trends across the retailer’s network. “We see in our stores, for example in travel essentials, that we have highlighted sections where people can find sustainable products. People in particular in their 20s who we need to appeal to. It’s a strong trend.”
On the potential for further development of the concept between Pangaia and Lagardère Travel Retail, Motlik added: “I hope it will be an international partnership. We have a lot of eyes from across our group on us to see that we hit our targets, which we are doing so far. I am confident there is a future in other airports.”
Dubai Airports EVP Commercial Eugene Barry hailed the opening.
“Through the pandemic we supported all our partners equally and through that process gained a strong understanding of their strategic intent and where they were going.
Interiors and product shots from the Pangaia store at DXB, Concourse B
“As an outcome of that, Lagardère Travel Retail proposed Pangaia to us and it ticked so many boxes in developing and evolving our existing approach to leisurewear through H&M, adidas or Pink by Victoria’s Secret, for example.
“We were looking for the next evolution of that and Pangaia offered a different kind of lifestyle brand with sustainability credentials. And those credentials will drive interest in the store alongside the design and the product.”
He added: “As Dubai Airports we are committed to the environment strategy that every airport is, and that is especially the case in the Year of Sustainability here, and with COP28 taking place later this year.”
He said that by working closely with the brand owner, as well as the retailer, Dubai Airports was able to “learn more about the brand than maybe we would in more conventional ways of managing spaces at airports, and come to a position where the design of the store and the product offer would reflect the aspirations we had from a guest experience and a sustainability point of view.”
He added: “Guest experience, sustainability and service, reinforced by revenue potential, are going to be big drivers of success for us going forward and will reflect our direction as an airport.”
Sustainability as a driver of business, even as a category in its own right, is certainly here to stay, said Barry.
“It is embedded in everything we do. In 2015 we were first airport in the region to reach Level 2 Carbon Accreditation with ACI. 60% of our landfill this year is diverted and 40% of our food waste is compostable. We are showing commitment in many areas such as this or in how we responsibly manage resources such as water.
“Working with a science-based brand that is sustainable is our first step to choosing partners that have these credentials from the beginning. People consume in more conscious ways, they are interested in source materials and many of our growing base of younger travellers are thinking this way, as are older travellers in their choices of what brands to support.”
*For the full story on the Pangaia opening, click here.
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