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Local produce the hero in Canberra Airport refresh

Canberra Airport is undertaking a complete refresh and significant expansion of its retail, food and beverage offering in a move its head of property Richard Snow calls the last piece of the airport puzzle.

Central to the revamp is a significant focus on local companies designed to showcase the quality food, beverages, gifts and produce available in the Canberra region.

“We’re going from four stores to nine total on the domestic departures concourse,” Snow told The Airport Professional.

“It’s a little bit over double, about 450 square metres going to about 1000 square metres.”

The revamp was prompted in part by a growth in passenger numbers that has outstripped the available facilities.

The airport benchmarked its current retail offering against other airports of similar size and found that per passenger, Canberra Airport had less retail than other Australian airports.

The project also aims to address an imbalance created by the fact the terminal was built in two halves.

This left all the retail, food and beverage outlets at the southern end of the terminal used by Qantas and nothing in the western concourse, which was built afterwards and used by Virgin Australia and international airlines.

“We’re going back to properly redo it to react to the passenger growth but also to get a better weighting of retail through both concourses,” Snow said.

“And we thought we’d re-do it all so it’s a much larger offering with a better range.”

The property head said the competitive tender process attracted a strong range of good quality candidates, with seven vying for the food and beverage franchise and three for the news, books and travel essentials business.

The result was a full overhaul. 

The seven-year contracts went to Australia’s Airport Retail Enterprises (ARE), which won the food and beverage component, and world-class retailer Australian Way (AWPL), which will take on the news, books and gifting side.

ARE will create a new café called City Hill Coffee in the western concourse near the main atrium’s Unfurling sculpture that will serve Canberra’s popular ONA coffee.

There will also be an Asian noodle and Sushi offering called “Noodles XO” and a health food offering called “Baker’s Cut.”

The existing outlets in the southern concourse will be replaced by the Capital Brewing Co. Bar, offering craft beer from the well-known local brewery of the same name. Also on the menu: high-quality, locally sourced meals.

The terminal will get a mixed news, books, travel essentials and café space on ground floor arrivals.

AWPL will open a “News @CBR” store offering news, books and everyday travel essentials. This will be followed by second store called “Merchant Canberra’ that will showcase gifts from the Canberra region and Australia.

One of the advantages of sourcing locally is that both coffee roaster ONA and Capital Brewing are located in nearby Fyshwick.

But it isn’t just a matter of convenience and Snow argued it was also important for the airport, as the gateway to the city, to recognise its home.

And he noted there were plenty of quality suppliers in the region

“One of the things that attracted us to Australian Way was the amount of effort they put into talking to suppliers, artisans and gifting companies to really bring that content in,” he said.

“As part of the lease arrangement, they to have at least 50 per cent local content.”

The enthusiasm for local content is shared by ARE chief executive John Chapman.

“Canberra has a fantastic local food scene, and we are very pleased to be partnering with many local producers to bring this to the airport,” Chapman said at the recent tender announcement. “The new terminal will become a fantastic showcase of the region’s produce.”

Also on the agenda are three fashion outlets, although Snow said the airport had been waiting for the tender announcement before going out to market.

“We’ll basically embark on that leasing campaign now,’’ he added

“The work has already started on site and we’re doing it in two stages.

“The first stage will open in December and the next stage in April next year so we’re hopeful we’ll get the fashion outlets operational in that time frame.”

By Steve Creedy

About Steve Creedy

An award-winning journalist, Steve began covering aviation in the United States in the early nineties before returning to Australia later that decade and editing The Australian’s aviation section for 17 years. He is editor of Airline Ratings and has co-authored books on industry initiatives aimed at reducing greenhouse emissions.

Steve has joined the AAA to write interesting and informative editorial on the aviation industry.


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