Creating a Joyful Shopping Destination

WHAT do you usually do to pass time at an airport? For most travelers, the answer is undoubtedly shopping. And the most popular shop at any airport is the Duty Free Shop (DFS). The DFS Galleria is heavenly for luxury shoppers, featuring many leading brands, including Bulgari, Burberry, Cartier, Celine, Chloe, Chopard, Coach, Dior, Dunhill, Fendi, Gucci, LOEWE, Mont Blanc, Salvatore Ferragamo, Tiffany & Co and Van Cleef & Arpels.

Of course it is not easy to manage a store that carries leading brands without offering discounts. Good management and creativity is very much required. This is what Craig McKenna believes in. He is the managing director of DFS the company for South Asia, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore.

In the region McKenna is DFS Global’s revenue leader. Almost everyone knows that DFS Galleria Singapore, for example, is a shopping destination. “Creativity is required due to tight competition among retailers,” said McKenna.

He is no stranger to the retail world. He hails from New Zealand and spent his initial years in Invercargill, Dunedin, Christchurch before joining DFS in Auckland in 1995. He started his career at New Zealand DFS as vice president of operations before moving to Singapore in 2003 to become the managing director for Okinawa development.

After completing the Galleria location and assuring airport operations were running smoothly, he took over the position of managing director for business in Singapore. In this role, he was responsible for the DFS portfolio at Changi airport, covering 46 outlets selling liquor, tobacco, food, watches and other luxury items. In addition, he was responsible for an 85,000-square-foot Galleria located in the heart of Singapore that serves foreign tourists, including many Indonesians.

According to McKenna, Singapore is one the group’s most important markets as the city-state has a modern and beautiful environment that makes it one of the most wanted residential places in the world. This modern, buzzing environment is also a capital for fashion shopping in Southeast Asia. “DFS Galleria is the main destination for tourists who want to enjoy a high-class shopping ambience where choices are almost unlimited,” said the father of four who was born in 1959.

Being duty free is only part of the way it draws customers – since its creation, DFS has become a symbol of a luxury lifestyle. It offers the Platinum Services Club (PSC) through which members can enjoy a number of privileges, such as limousine transportation and personalized shopping services. “We are proud to be able to provide the best service and make the customers’ needs our top priority,” he said.

Marketing luxury items goes beyond simply selling, said McKenna, and requires a personal touch with the customers. That is why promotional events that evoke customers’ emotions are often held. One such recent event was the “Master of Spirits II”, which ran from March 31 to April 1, 2012.

The event brought together the world’s most enthusiastic connoisseurs and collectors of spirits, wine and champagne to select the most exclusive and rare spirits in the world, creating one of the most prestigious events of its kind in Asia.

Such events are known as a type of experiential marketing, which are useful to enhance the image of a company or brand, differentiate from competitors’ products and persuade potential customers to purchase the company’s products. “The most important thing is creating loyal customers,” said McKenna, who is also responsible for the establishment of DFS in Mumbai and Abu Dhabi.

DFS Group, based in Hong Kong, is a travel retail store chain with more than 200 outlets in 15 countries throughout Asia and the Pacific, the United States and the Middle East. The majority of the company’s shares belong to LVMH Moët Hennessy-Louis Vuitton, with the rest of the shares belonging to the founder of DFS Group, Robert Miller. “Due to the tight competition and increasing number of new retailers, it is not enough to rely on a close relationship with leading brand owners, but requires innovation, creativity and the right marketing strategy,” said McKenna.

Craig McKenna, Managing Director

CRAIG is the Managing Director of DFS for Asia South – Australia, New Zealand and Singapore. He is a New Zealander, who spent his early years in Invercargill, Dunedin and Christchurch before joining DFS in Auckland in 1995. He started his DFS career in New Zealand as Vice President of Operations, before relocating to Singapore in 2003 to take up the post of Managing Director of the Okinawa development.

Once the Galleria was completed and the Airport Operation acquired, Craig took over the role of Managing Director of the Singapore business. In this role, Craig is responsible for the DFS portfolio at Changi Airport which includes some 46 individual locations across Liquor, Tobacco, Food, Luxury boutiques and Watches. It also encompasses an 85,000 sqft flagship Galleria in downtown Singapore, catering to inbound tourists of all nationalities. Craig was also responsible for the establishment of DFS in both Mumbai and Abu Dhabi.

Craig is married with 4 sons and is a keen follower of all sports, but most importantly the All Blacks. (Burhan Abe)

The Jakarta Post, April 28, 2012

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