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Aelia – Raising the bar in airport duty free retail


A ground breaking new 1,670 sq m walk-through duty free store – Aelia Duty Free – has opened at London Luton Airport and has been designed with an innovative London theme, entitled ‘It’s a London thing.’

The store, operated by Lagardère Travel Retail UK & Ireland, is a key element of the airport’s £120m renovation investment strategy, which aims to increase passenger numbers by 50% from 12 million to 18 million a year, according to the airport’s CEO Nick Barton.

Developed in collaboration with lead design agency for the project Portland Design, the design aims to reflect London’s diversity in an ingeniously conceived and highly distinctive way.

The interior design is open plan and clearly zoned, with ceiling and floor features (including a ceiling section modelled around the Union Jack flag over the English brands section) designed to facilitate easy navigation.

Wide walkways lead to the core categories which include perfumes, spirits, confectionery, clothing, sunglasses and watches.

Lewis Allen, creative director for retail environments at Portland Design Associates said:

“We wanted to design an authentically London shopping experience that captures the diversity and creativity of London life.

“Easy navigation is key to the store, as passengers have to walk through it en route to their destination, and we felt that it was essential to make this a stress-free experience by ensuring that the circulation route is very clear. Essentially the order of passengers’ priorities is that travelling comes first and shopping second – so if you introduce any stress they will switch off from shopping.

“The design architecture intuitively reinforces easy navigation, assisted by signage and low furniture, so as not to block sightlines, enabling customers to see the path leading to the exit point. It is really important to make sure that people feel in control in this way.”

Navigation is further reinforced by a digital information point with a store map that clearly defines the categories and brand locations.

“As many airport stores tend to be similar, we wanted to inject a strong identity into the interior to make the retail experience different and interesting so as to engage shoppers.

“Firstly, we felt that the ‘London’ element of London Luton Airport was important and so used this as a theme. Secondly, we looked at the demographics of the passengers passing through and found out that they were typically of a low cost, younger, strong European profile, experiencing London in a broader range of brands and shopping areas – from traditional Regent Street to the more innovative, urban Shoreditch.

“From this we evolved our design ‘It’s a London thing’ – with edgy, urban elements such as exposed brickwork and street art in some areas, contrasted with a highly, polished premium feel in other areas such as cosmetics, expressing the spirit of London in a unique, appealing and sometimes slightly irreverent way.

“This provides a merchandising platform for goods including English/London brands in a design which is also about newness, refreshment, entrepreneurial spirit, new and niche brands as well as international brands, which is what we feel that people are looking for.”

Other key elements of the design include: An illuminated LED ‘goal post’ effect feature at the store entrance, which cycles through different colours – heralding a dramatic and pleasant transition for customers who have just passed though security.

‘Best of London’ is the centre piece of the store concept, and features iconic London brands including Penhaligons, Molton Brown, National Gallery, and Rimmel, and highlights a different brand every month.

The Whisky Studio, developed in partnership with Diageo, helps customers discover more about whisky – thanks to an interactive distillery accessible via an interactive digital tablet.

Other innovative features include a showcase area, La Scène, a digital, lighting and sounds platform featuring a different brand every month.

A testing bar at the centre of the store helps brands to bring their products to life, engaging passengers with innovative tastings, led by liquor experts and cocktail events, whilst a Refresh Pod experience provides passengers with a quiet space to freshen up in store.

General director of store operators Lagardère Travel retail UK, Amaury Dehen, said: “I am very proud to be a part of this exceptional new Aelia Duty Free opening at London Luton Airport. As the largest store in Lagardère Travel Retail’s global portfolio, we are thrilled to have opened such an inspiring and invigorating retail facility.”


Clements Limited

Clements Limited are a well-established, two-fold design, manufacture and installation company with a proven track record in award-winning in-store environment, POS and permanent merchandise solutions. The team has expertise in wood, metal, laminate, veneer glass, acrylic and print services, plus time-served craftsmanship to integrate these materials into outstanding presentations.

Clements Retail specialises in building exceptional retail environments and has a history of working with the world’s top brands. These include leading purveyors of design-led merchandise such as Michael Kors, Christian Louboutin, Alexander McQueen and Armani.

Clements POS are dedicated in creating exceptional Point of Sale and Permanent Merchandising solutions and is currently providing solutions for the UK’s premium FMCG brands such as Kraft Heinz, blu, Samsung and Innocent.

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