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Business reporter—

 Following the announcement of investment valuing more than $100 million in the redevelopment of Sangster International Airport, the airport has since engaged the services of Design Solution to create a walk-through strategy that will improve retail sales by roughly 50 per cent.—

In a release yesterday, the London-based retail architecture and design company said it has created a new design for the main terminal at Sangster, one which will drive non-aeronautical revenue streams from improved passenger exposure to the retail stores.

“As is common with the layout at many airports, Sangster International’s two-level layout presented a serious challenge to achieving the optimal exposure of passengers to the retail offer,” founder and managing director of Design Solution, Robbie Gill, reasoned.

“After check-in on the ground floor, entry to the upper floor brings passengers to the middle of the duty-free shop and with gates at each end of the building; those travelers who turn towards the northern gates have no exposure at all to the core retail space located towards the southern end of the terminal.

Sanger International Airport

Sanger International Airport

“This loses around 40-45 per cent of footfall. So our design needed to address the huge opportunity especially as, currently, the northern retail space is principally focused on souvenirs and the category opportunity is much broader,” he continued.

CEO of MBJ Airports Limited, Rafael Echevarne, noted that like most airports, Montego Bay is constantly seeking the optimal commercial return on investment in its terminals, particularly through driving retail footfall and penetration.

The new development will cover 6,600 square metres of space and is anticipated to be undertaken during 2018-19.

 Sangster International reportedly handled a record 4.2 million passengers in 2017. Since 2014, the airport has been bullish on improving its commercial program and introduced retail mobile kiosks in its halls. The mobile kiosks were part of an incubator program that sought to involve small operators in the retail business and to test new products.

At that time, the kiosks were said to be able to rake in between US$15,000 and US$25,000 in gross sales per month from the sales of scented candles, locally made craft items, Bob Marley merchandise, souvenirs, spices and sauces as well as frozen patties. It’s not clear what are the revenue estimates for larger operators renting a store in the airport.

Gill noted that the design also incorporates a Phase 2 option for future expansion of retail spaces and passenger flow.


He said the design can be applied effectively whether the airport management decides in the future to opt for a single major expansion or a series of smaller phase developments, while adding that passengers will also be able to enjoy an “unmistakably Jamaican in spirit” upon completion of the designs.

The current upgrade marks the third phase of development at Sangster International. The upgrade includes improving infrastructure on the ramp site such as the apron and taxiway, runway extension, terminal extension, renovation of the commercial facilities, among others.

It also comes at a time when Montego Bay is looking to increase room count by 2000 rooms over the next three years.

Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett previously told the Jamaica Observer that the ministry and its agencies are working diligently to provide a product and a service that both meet and exceed the expectations of Jamaica’s visitors and tourism partners.

He said steps are being taken to ensure the availability of first-class accommodation as well as a safe, secure and seamless visitor experience, noting that destination assurance is crucial to ensuring sustained growth.

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