30 September, 2013

Airport Retailers get an added advantage

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has recently announced that Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) are not allowed to carry Indian currency out of the country. Earlier, the limit was ₹10,000 to carry with them after clearing Customs and Immigration. This was basically some loose change to meet Food & Beverage expnses while in the Security hold area. While cafes and restaurants do accept prominent foreign currencies, even foreigners try to finish their Indian currencies while leaving the country.

What brings an opportunity is for Retailers to sell Indian souvenirs and interesting take aways which can be spent using the Indian currency.

Keeping this in mind, we had created a very large section called "The Spirit of India" at the Bangalore International Airport. Within this area was a designer boutique from ace designer Deepika Govind among others. One could buy scarves, stoles, jewellery, neck ties and many more before departing. There was also a bookstore which was operated by India's largest bookstore chain Crossword. The store had many interesting books that doicted Indian history, arts among others. I remember, the most sold book used to be "Kamasutra". Foreigners would take it as a souvenir and NRIs would take it as a gift for their friends who lived abroad.

The present rule is expected to be enforced with full force by RBI. If so, then this is a boon for Retailers to sell Indian products to those who are departing the country. 

F&B outlets are already faring well, selling exotic Indian varieties of food in the Departure areas. While they are usually not allowed to sell packed food, some do sell such items as Indian tea, Cookies, spices such as Cardamom, Cashews and more. 

Airport management companies should do more and support Retailers by displaying prominent boards about the new rule which would encourage passengers to finish off their Indian currencies before boarding their flights. Delhi and Hyderabad Airports are operated by The GMR Group; Mumbai and Bangalore Airports are managed by the GVK Group; All other Airports in India including those at Chennai and Kolkata are run by the Airports Authority of India, a Governmental agency. While the retail areas in the AAI managed airports are quite badly managed, the private airports are much better organised and laid out. 

This is one opportunity that is possible to become a big hit, if only Airports and Retailers collaborate. 

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