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John Ryan

Airports Are Opportunities for Retailers with the Right Product

Eataly’s new, smaller concept in Rome is the proof




THOSE WHO ARE LUCKY enough to live in Manhattan, Chicago, Los Angeles or Boston may have found their way to Eataly, the theme park-cum-restaurant-cum-eatery that seems to have the unerring ability to sweep all before it wherever it happens to open a branch.

What North American readers (or those anywhere else, other than Rome, for that matter) will not have come across is an Eataly in an airport. Sounds obvious really. This is an outfit in which food that can easily double up as a gift is to be found en masse, and for those needing a pasta or pizza fix it hits the spot.

The trick would be to make sure that it is airside to take advantage of the “Golden Hour” beloved of airport retailers – the time in which travellers with time on their hands can spend a little cash. This must surely be the thinking behind the opening of a 2000-square-foot Eataly outpost in Rome’s Fiumicino international airport, airside.

This one looks like a somewhat scaled down version of a standard Eataly with the same perimeter counters with striped awnings, white wood mid-shop produce display fixtures and, of course, multiple tables for those whose sole aim is to enjoy a quick bite.

All of which is symptomatic of the boom currently being enjoyed by those with the right format who have the vision to add travel to their high street operations.

We may be in (in most markets) a quasi-post-Covid era, although reversals of health fortune remain possible, but to judge by a few recent visits to airports around Europe, the decline witnessed by many airport retail operations has finished. These are busy places and for those looking to do something different at a moment when many high streets and malls remain significantly underused, this could be just the ticket to ensure that the tills keep ringing out … as long as you have a retail product that will attract.


John Ryan is a journalist covering the retail sector, a role he has fulfilled for more than a decade. As well as being the European Editor of VMSD magazine, he writes for a broad range of publications in the U.K., the U.S. and Germany with a focus on in-store marketing, display and layout, as well as the business of store architecture and design. In a previous life, he was a buyer for C&A, based in London and then Düsseldorf, Germany. He lives and works in London.



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