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Dr. Barbara Sturm and Earl of East Make UK Travel Debuts at Revamped London City Airport

Published November 12, 2023
Published November 12, 2023
Kevin Rozario

High-end German skincare brand Dr. Barbara Sturm has entered the UK travel retail channel for the first time at a revamped Aelia Duty Free store at London’s most accessible airport, London City. Joining it for its global travel retail debut in mainline airport store is candles-to-body care brand Earl of East.

The two brands, along with another luxury arrival, House of Creed, are part of a significantly enhanced beauty offer from Aelia, one of the retail brands of Lagardère Travel Retail, the Paris-based global travel retailer that has partnered with London City since 2011. The company recently revealed revenue of €3.7 billion for the nine months to September 30, up by more than 30% year over year.

The beauty category used to be the last one passengers would see as they entered the departure lounge after security. Following the store’s refurbishment and expansion by 45% to 420 square meters, beauty is now the first one that travelers encounter as they leave the security area and enter the departure lounge.

The beauty offer, which accounts for half of the shop’s sales, has also been bulked up. As well as clearly defined and visible backwalls for big luxury names like Chanel, Dior, Estée Lauder, Hermès, Jo Malone, Lancôme, Sisley, and YSL, there is a bigger makeup space, a “Beauty in the Air” area for travel-exclusive products, and another dedicated launchpad area to highlight interesting newcomers and niche brands.

A Space for Newcomers

Marion Engelhard, Managing Director of Lagardère Travel Retail UK & Ireland, said, “This is a premium location in the beauty area to highlight new brands that don’t always have a space in airports.”

First to occupy that spot is the science-led Dr. Barbara Sturm, famous for its anti-inflammatory approach to wellness. The brand’s Molecular Cosmetics range of skincare, haircare, and supplements is positioned at the luxury end of the market, ideal for the some of the high-value passengers that travel through London City.

The airport is just a few miles from both of the UK capital’s global financial hubs—the City of London and Canary Wharf—and the in-store product selection reflects the high average incomes of this business segment and individual appetites for luxury.

Lagardère Travel Retail has had to balance that with the fact that London City— which still has a largely premium profile—is seeing a growing leisure passenger profile, now accounting for around 50% of the traffic at the short-runway airport.

Engelhard told BeautyMatter, “There is a lot of short-haul leisure travel now, so we make sure we have a product range across all price points. But this location is a little unique in that some of our high-end products are only listed here.” Lagardère has several other travel retail locations in the UK including London Luton, Birmingham, and Belfast airports.

“There is a lot of short-haul leisure travel now so we make sure we have a product range across all price points. But this location is a little unique in that some of our high-end products are only listed here.”
By Marion Engelhard, Managing Director, Lagardère Travel Retail UK & Ireland

Spotlight on East London

To achieve that “sense of place” that all airports now strive for, Lagardère Travel Retail has also woven in several local East London brands across all categories. One of the highlights in beauty and home is Earl of East, which makes home fragrances and body products from candles and home mists, to bath salts and body oils.

Gabriel Miller, Account Manager at the nine-year-old company, said, “We started as a market side hustle with candles. Now we produce more than 90 SKUs in-house in East London with a close eye on sustainable production. We have three retail locations in London, the latest just opened in Soho.”

Miller told BeautyMatter that Earl of East’s pricing was accessible and that one of the aims of the brand is to create community spaces in its retail locations. It also stocks other niche beauty brands at its stores like AKT London, Guy Morgan, and 19-69. The brand has more than 260 stockists worldwide including Urban Outfitters and Nordstrom in the US.

One of the key features of the lengthened Aelia Duty Free store, with its long facade, is that it faces a large seating area in the departure lounge. The deliberately bright colors and lighting at the storefront are an easy lure to passengers in this area. “With our new format and a more engaging store, we have increased the store penetration and we are above expectations on spend per passenger,” said Engelhard.

The new store is part of a larger $15 million refurbishment at London City Airport which will be completed by the first quarter of 2024, according to Chief Commercial Officer Andrew Hodges. By then, traffic at the airport may come closer to pre-pandemic levels.

London City—which has fast security processing thanks to not having a 100ml liquids limit or the need to take computers and tablets out of bags since April—processed 3 million passengers last year, and expects closer to 4 million this year. In 2019, traffic reached a record 5.1 million.


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