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December 27, 2021 Kevin Rozario
December 27, 2021

Italian brands are the stars of a big new duty-free store from Paris-based Lagardère Travel Retail at Fiumicino International ‘Leonardo da Vinci’ Airport in Rome, developed in very close partnership with the hub’s operator Aeroporti di Roma (ADR).

Officially opened on 1 December the store, at about 3,000 square meters of commercial space, is the largest in the world under Lagardère’s Aelia banner. Aelia has more than a dozen stores in the travel retail channel in Europe, as well as six airport stores in Australia and New Zealand.

The opening puts a big emphasis on Italian brands and comes on the back of an extensive refurbishment of Fiumicino’s Hub East space in Terminal 1 which is expected to be finished in Spring 2022. It serves domestic and Schengen travelers, who come from primarily European Union countries participating in a ‘free movement’ area. Passengers entering the departures hall come through the expansive Aelia space.

Beauty is one of the first categories that travelers encounter as they enter the revamped and enlarged store. The large Italian section includes a series of immediately visible luxury brands such as Acqua di Parma, Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, and Versace.

The French duty-free retailer did not divulge the cost of the project though earlier this year Lagardère Travel Retail’s chief operating officer, Frédéric Chevalier, said: “For us this is a very big investment and we are happy to participate in what is a huge upgrade of duty-free operations at the airport.”

In a statement earlier this month, the company added: “This opening takes place after nearly two years of crisis and at the onset of a fifth wave of the Covid-19 epidemic. It is a testament to the very strong partnership between Lagardère Travel Retail and ADR.”

That relationship is well established. In 2012, Lagardère acquired ADR Retail, giving the company what is now its strongest travel retail presence in Italy. The French company runs several other key airport locations in the country like Catania in Sicily, Naples, and Venice.

One of the biggest duty-free stores worldwide

Alberto Niero, CEO of Lagardère Travel Retail Italia, commented: “This is one of the largest duty-free stores in the world and the largest managed by Lagardère Travel Retail. It is a clear sign of the company’s trust and faith in the future of the travel retail industry.”

Niero admitted that the dramatic drop in traffic during the COVID pandemic had been extremely difficult. In 2020, Fiumicino’s passenger count dipped below 10 million, a sharp drop from 43.5 million in 2019. Before the impact of the COVID Omicron variant, traffic had started to pick up again, and it is not yet clear how consumers will react in terms of their forward travel planning. Some analysts suggest that growth, once it resumes, will be very fast.

Other core elements of the beauty area and the Aelia store in general include:

Sense of place—This has been magnified across the entire store not just beauty to communicate authenticity but also to support doorstep and regional economies and producers. For example, there is a local fine foods concept called Bottega dei Sapori selling wine, chocolate, biscuits, limoncello, olive oil, and pasta, while Italian design is everywhere.

Tailor-made brand experiences and animations—Lagardère maintains that this store offers one of the widest ranges of Italian and global brand references anywhere in the duty-free industry and says it has worked with its global brand partners to “best embody their DNAs in Rome and create experiences that travelers cannot find anywhere else.” These will include new in-store animations and masterclasses such as flash makeup and perfumes testing.

A broader promotional offer—Bestsellers and travel exclusives will be prominent to underscore the value proposition of duty-free to travelers and reinforce a competitive price positioning versus the domestic market.


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