It’s the journey that matters

The retailing approach in airports has evolved rapidly, says De la Chevalerie. “There are no longer shops with window displays, everything has become more open and fluid and increasingly passengers have to walk past all the retail outlets on their journey through the airport. You can see good examples of this approach in airports hubs such as Amsterdam and Vienna. It’s becoming more widespread.” This has, of course, changed the nature of an effective display for the champagne producers and they have been imaginative in their response – you just need to look at examples like the Laurent-Perrier Cage Ruban and Veuve Clicquot’s Journey to see this.

Despite the airport operators’ increasingly sophisticated approach and large increases in retail space, he makes the point: “On average only 5% of people travelling buy something and yet it’s already a huge market. It only needs to grow a few percentage points to bring massive overall growth.”

The Brut NV sector is key, says De la Chevalerie and, in a market where price and exclusive packaging are still important, you have to have a twin gift pack in bottle and half-bottle. Two other important lines for Laurent-Perrier are the Cuvée Rosé and prestige line the multi-vintage Grand Siècle.

The market also expects travel retail exclusives and limited editions and each of the past four years Laurent-Perrier has introduced the latter at Cannes for its rosé style, to go into outlets the following April. At the very top end of the range and only available in magnums and jeroboams, there’s even a place in travel retail for the first and only release of Reserves Grand Siècle based on the 1995, 1993 and 1990 blend of this cuvée, with more than a decade of extra ageing. In 2015 this went into the exclusive Le Clos outlet at Dubai International airport, owned by Emirates Group subsidiary Maritime Mercantile International, which has established itself as one of the leading travel retailers of fine wine and luxury spirits in just a few years.

“Our core travel retail business is in Europe where the likes of London, Paris or Frankfurt still account for a large part of our sales. But we are widely spread and enjoy significant growth in Asia, the Middle East and Africa,” says De la Chevalerie.

While price promotions are still important, the mix of product lines can be varied according to the location, taking into account the maturity of the local market, travellers’ habits and who the traveller is. The product range may vary too between arrival and departure shops. “Due to high local taxes places such as Dubai, Sao Paolo, Oslo and Mauritius enjoy strong sales on arrival.”

Only two or three years ago the biggest buyers were Russian travellers and Brazilians were number two, but since their respective economies have been hit, that has all changed and both retailers and champagne producers have had to adapt. France as a whole accounts for just over half total travel retail champagne sales with Paris the major airport hub while the UK comes second with nearly a 10th share, according to IWSR figures.


The desire of visitors to leave France with a gift or special memory is well serviced by the Moët Hennessy Boutique at Charles de Gaulle airport, now open for two years, that’s run in partnership with Aéroport de Paris and LS Travel Retail. Managing director of Moët Hennessy Global Travel Retail Donatienne de Fontaines-Guillaume confirms that Paris, in particular, and London are two of the most important European hubs.