CTC-ARI takes whisky to next level

27 August, 2008
Page 14 
Cypriot duty-free operator CTC-ARI Airports plans to upgrade its award-winning Uisge Beatha shop concept when the retailer switches to new airports planned for Paphos and Larnaca.

The company opened the Uisge Beatha malt whisky shops earlier this year at the existing airports serving Paphos and Larnaca. Both are due to be replaced by larger facilities over the next two years. Retail space in Larnaca will increase to 4,000sq m and in Paphos 1,000sq m.

The Uisge Beatha store concept sought to demystify the complex world of malt whisky for new consumers and exploit its collect ability by using highly trained staff, free educational literature and tasting promotions to introduce new consumers to the world of malt.

Uisge Beatha went on to win the coveted industry accolade of Best Speciality Concept Frontier Award at the TFWA World Exhibition in Cannes .

"The shops at the new airports will take whisky retailing to a new level," said CTC-ARI general manager Gerry Crawford.

"I am increasingly struck by the sameness of much of the duty-free retail you encounter at airports worldwide, which is why at the new airports we are going to do something radically different from a whisky perspective. There will be interactive displays and we are going to become very sophisticated in being able to match whiskies with consumers' preferences, which is crucial for gifting."

Crawford added he knew the overall concept would be successful, but was surprised at how well the two existing Uisge Beatha outlets had performed . Top-shelf references such as Glenfiddich 50 Year Old, The Dalmore 1973 Cabernet Sauvignon, Ladyburn 1973, The Macallan 50 Year Old, Tobermory 32 Year Old and The Glenlivet 25 Year Old have been added to fill out the retailer's ultra-premium offer.

"We listed Glenfiddich 50 Year Old, had a bespoke display unit produced and sold the first bottle in nine days, the second bottle in 10 days, and it has gone on from there," said Crawford. "Due to the amazing results in the old and rare [category] we now have companies coming to us with special expressions before they are launched, which is excellent, considering six months ago we had to fight for allocation. We have taken all the remaining stock of Glenfiddich 1974 and 1876 Vintage and are listing Auchentoshan 30 Year Old in the coming weeks.

"Selling is the key - we pursue a soft sell approach and our sales assistants are highly trained. Some of our staff have visited 16 major distilleries in the past seven months and this really makes the difference - they can confidently interact with consumers. We have specialised and focused on distillery editions as we feel this is where consumers can be attracted to trade up."