Travel retailer Gebr. Heinemann is back at Düsseldorf Airport, and beauty could be the richer for it. The Hamburg-based global duty-free operator officially opened four stores at Germany’s fourth-busiest airport on September 7, covering a total area of around 3,700 square meters.
Heinemann had a 20-year relationship with airport owner and landlord Flughafen Düsseldorf for 20 years from 1992 until the end of 2012, after which Dufry snatched away the concession. Having won the contract back a year ago, the Hamburg company will not easily let it go again, key to which will be tightening its re-established relationship with the gateway and taking the retail offer to a new level.
Beauty is a core category for the travel retailer; it accounted for just over one-third of the company’s total revenue of €3.8 billion in 2022. Undelining its ambitions in this product segment, Heinemann recently took a 50% stake in fragrance distributor Nobilis Group, which operates in German-speaking markets.
At Düsseldorf Airport, perfumes and cosmetics are also in the limelight. The core non-Schengen shop in Pier C—modeled after Düsseldorf’s famous boulevard Königsallee. nicknamed the Kö—has a large assortment of premium brands, with Chanel, Dior, and Lancôme having their own personalized areas.
Bringing in Trending Social Media Brands
But the more novel aspect of the Düsseldorf revamp is the “Test & Learn” pilot, a space where the retailer can trial smaller and niche brands, whether local, regional, national, or international, and gauge their popularity.
Heinemann said that some of these new brands “are known only on social media so far.” The company added in a statement: “They will have the opportunity to present their products to travelers for a limited period of time, giving them an in-road into the travel retail market. For shoppers, this is a genuine highlight.”
Beauty has a strong presence in this multi-category space, and initial showcase brands include “science-first” Niche Beauty Lab, “ultra-pure” natural cosmetics label The Glow, and acne-targeted Acnemy. According to Heinemann, these products are not usually found in travel retail, or only available in a very limited number of locations.
Gordana Schiel, Managing Director of Heinemann Düsseldorf, commented: “The new shops and their range of products are a testament to the strong connection to Düsseldorf and its surrounding areas. They are partly stocked with in-vogue brands (but) another of our goals is to attract new target groups, such as Millennials and Gen Z, with social-media-driven brands to change their perception of duty-free shopping as an outdated pastime.”
Lars Redeligx, CEO of Düsseldorf Airport, added: “The new shops at our airport are proof of how the future of travel retail is being successfully shaped.” Düsseldorf Airport is not a Lufthansa hub, but it processed just over 16 million passengers in 2022, making it Europe’s 31st busiest airport (that ranking includes big airports in Moscow and St. Petersburg in western Russia).
Traffic in 2019 reached 25.5 million passengers, and numbers are climbing back. The airport is also the gateway to the Rhine-Ruhr Region, the third-largest economic center in Europe (source: Eurostat) while the city itself is considered the eighth richest (by GDP) among 108 urban districts in Germany (source: Federal Statistical Office) making it a location with plenty of potential.
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