Luxury brands have shown why travel retail should bank on them

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By Marco Passoni

The importance of the luxury sector to the travel retail market cannot be overstated today, and it is good – and refreshing – to see brands being given the space and opportunity to lead the way in creating bespoke and memorable experiences for shoppers in this market.

In recent weeks, some of our distinguished luxury partners have opened new stores in the travel retail sector, each of which underlines this point. Moncler, Dolce & Gabbana, Golden Goose and Brunello Cucinelli, to name a few, have been creating new spaces which demonstrate exactly what luxury can do for travel retail – and it is enough to make any lingering cynics sit up and take note. Each of these new stores is not just a beautiful space filled with excellent items, that is the minimum one would expect from a true luxury brand. These are crafted spaces, tailored to the needs and desires of travelling shoppers, and offering something unique by leveraging a special environment.

The power of luxury in travel retail today is evident anywhere you look in the industry: in October, DFS announced it is working on a “seven-star” luxury retail destination in Hainan, while Qatar Duty Free has been leading the way from a retailer point of view for a long time. This year’s new openings, including a masterpiece Dolce & Gabbana store, underline both a dedication to luxury and an understanding of how to make the most of this vital sector.

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Just last week, I had the pleasure of seeing the new Golden Goose store at Rome’s Fiumicino Airport. This is the brand’s first travel retail outlet and it is an incredible debut which sets a real marker for the future. This is a striking, stunning, experiential space. It is fully immersive, bringing the brand’s experience to life, but feels fully tailored to the location – this is not just the Golden Goose world you step into with this store, it is Golden Goose’s travel retail world. And that is something very special. I have no doubt this is a brand which will do great things in this market.

Golden Goose is not the only one opening new doors in Italy, indeed the country is underlining its status as one of the world’s luxury powerhouses in both the domestic and travel retail sectors. Moncler’s new store at Fiumicino continues the trend of creating vibrant, exciting spaces for shoppers. Using Moncler’s striking visuals to create a space which invites shoppers to discover the brand by exploring its offer, this continues Moncler’s outstanding journey. Meanwhile, Brunello Cucinelli has crafted a haven of Italian luxury and style at Milan Malpensa airport with its newest store. This is a salon of beauty, decorated with stunning clothes to create an oasis for shoppers to escape into and enjoy themselves away from the bustle of travel. I highly recommend taking the chance to visit both stores.

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Elsewhere, and rather further afield, Dolce & Gabbana has opened its latest doors at Shanghai Pudong Airport. This store is a real showcase of the importance of great partnerships. Bringing it to life was not an easy process, but the final result is spectacular. Dolce & Gabbana continues to leverage its globally-recognised brand and power to create something truly special for shoppers around the globe. Fellow luxury leader Louis Vuitton has also recently opened a new store in Kansai airport which is breathtaking to behold and underlines the brand’s status as a leader in this – and the wider luxury – market.

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These are just a few examples of what luxury brands can do if they are given the space and opportunity to create something in the travel retail market. Luxury has proven over and over again its value to this market. No one can create a stunning, engaging experience for shoppers like luxury brands – their storytelling and branding are unparalleled, and these new stores underline the potential they have to deliver more excellence in this market. And that is something the industry can, and should, take to the bank.

Marco Passoni has decades of experience in the travel retail sector. He has spent the majority of his career in senior leader positions throughout the market, including a 12-year tenure as CEO of a leading international Duty Free distribution company and a further 8 years running a retail firm that operated fashion mono-brand stores in several international airports.
Today, as Senior Executive VP and founding partner of 2.0 & Partners, he leads the company’s efforts in developing and innovating services which create new opportunities and partnerships for all members of the travel retail Trinity. A former elite-level sailor, with a World Championship to his name, Marco now spends much of his time airside, experiencing the changing travel retail industry first-hand, to better guide partners and clients on the best way to do business in this vibrant and unique market.