The UK’s biggest airport outside the London area has had a dramatic retail face lift in the past two years and is looking a lot better for its nip and tuck
Among the UK’s top 5 airports, Manchester airport saw the biggest fall in passengers in 2009, but it firmly retains its position among the big four gateways to the UK (along with London Heathrow
, London Gatwick
and London Stansted
) carrying 18.8m passengers in 2011.
Over the years, the airport has benefited from the regeneration of the UK’s third biggest city, while neighbouring Salford, which the airport also serves, has seen huge investment and became home to a large number of BBC departments in 2012 in a new development called Media City that is expected to lure many other media firms.
The airport has undergone its own regeneration recently with £35 million spent on Terminal 1 so that it now boasts a vastly improved airport shopping mall. One feature, also common to Terminal 2, is the removal of almost all landside shops which has allowed the airport to create more space for airside stores but means that only passengers passing through security have access to them.
In T1, and also T2, the anchor shop is called Biza, an ambitious concept that was developed a couple of years ago and which offers a department store format where you can buy all the usual product categories such as perfume, liquor and fashion. But, while the store is open plan, the departments tend to be designed distinctively and have a wider range of brands than you might expect • especially in leather goods and skincare. Examples include Dr Sebagh, REN and Sisley in the beauty area, and Marc by Marc Jacobs and Radley handbags.
T1 also houses a large and modern fashion emporium called Attitude which includes international brands such as Hugo Boss and Tommy Hilfiger as well as a number of trendier labels such as Animal, Diesel, Super Dry, White Stuff and Yamamay. At the launch of the store, high ticket items were available from brands such as Burberry, but the mix can change to reflect shopping preferences of the moment.
More standard high street fare is found in Mango women’s fashion, shoes from Kurt Geiger which has a clever mirror-fronted store front, The Body Shop, Rolling Luggage and Tie Rack. Other stores in the terminal include Fat Face, Timberland, an Add electronics accessories store, and Sock Shop plus the airport’s first BeRelax spa, which is not a real spa but a place where you can go for in-chair massage or oxygen therapy and generally have a moment of R&R.
While T1 tends to have the lions share of the best shopping, T2, which has had an £11 million upgrade, also gets a look in but only by way of having brands that are already present in T1. Stores found in both terminals include the sports retailer JD, women’s fashion from Monsoon, watch and sunglasses retailer Sensation, electronics and gadgets from Dixons and Claire’s Accessories. The only store that is exclusive to this terminal is one called Manchester which stocks souvenir-type products plus made in Manchester leather goods. You can’t miss it as one side of the shop is in the shape of a giant ‘M’ that doubles up as a display case.
There is also a third terminal, but the retail offer here is limited to a Dixons, Rolling Luggage and Tie Rack store. .
From late 2010, Manchester will see regular services from Dubai
on an Emirates A380, giving the regional airport a big boost and a much higher profile in the aviation world. Ethihad too has increased its services to Abu Dhabi.
There is also expected to be a re-jigging of its airline tenants soon, which makes sense in the light of the way the airport has priorotised its shopping. Essentially T1 is to become the scheduled international terminal, T2 will handle charter and holiday airline traffic and T3 will be left with the budget and domestic carriers.
Manchester Airport Factfile
Passenger traffic 2011: 18.8m
Main international airlines: Astraeus, Bmibaby, Easyjet, FlyBe, Jet2, Monarch, Thomas Cook Airlines, Thomson Airways, Viking.
Busiest international destinations: Palma de Mallorca
Tax Free Travel Parking Guide: Manchester International