August 15, 2008

Next Phase of Airport Facelift Set to Begin As Shop Opens

By Robin Johnson

The first phase of the multi-million-pound redevelopment of East Midlands Airport has been completed with the opening of a new pounds1.6m duty-free shop.

And the Castle Donington airport has announced the next phase of improvements will include a new departures food hall, which will sell mostly locally-sourced products and is due to open early next month.

Penny Coates, managing director, said the plans involved further upgrades to passenger facilities and enhancing the airport's green credentials.

She said: "The new food hall will be the next new development. We're also making improvements to parking and our arrivals area.

"Including these improvements, the total investment to date will be around pounds15m."

The airport also hopes to have four 135ft wind turbines in place by the end of the year, providing 10% of its energy.

Yesterday, the airport celebrated the opening of its latest addition - the new Biza duty free store.

The opening rounded off the first batch of improvements, which have been taking place over the past 18 months, creating around 100 jobs.

The work has included a change in the layout of the departure area, with 10 new shops, two restaurants and a larger security check area.

Six new gates have also been installed, linked to the main terminal by a 150-metre long footbridge.

And a new bus terminal and shops have been built outside arrivals.

The airport made the improvements due to a rapid rise in passenger numbers.

Last year 5.4 million people passed through the terminal - 14.5% up on 2006 . That figure looks likely to be beaten again this year.

Reg Curtis, UK managing director of Alpha UK Retail, the company behind the new Biza shop, said the growth was a factor in his firm choosing East Midlands for one of its stores.

He said: "East Midlands Airport continues to grow despite the current economic conditions and we felt that it was as good a place as any to introduce one of our new Biza stores.

"We felt that customers deserved more from a duty-free shop - and that it should be more like a department store.

"Although the conditions for retail on the high street are tough, it's different for airport shops because people have saved up specifically for their holidays and are in the mood to treat themselves, so we're actually doing very well."

The Biza shop in the departures area is 10,000 sq ft and employs 40 staff. The previous Alpha shop was 7,500 sq ft.

Alpha came up with the Biza concept to give a luxury feel to airport shopping.

It sells beauty products, sunglasses, jewellery and other fashion accessories by a number of leading names, as well as an extensive range of champagne, wines and spirits.

East Midlands is only the second airport in the UK to get a Biza store - the other is Newcastle.

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