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"Upgrade for shops at Minneapolis airport gets look"
Tuesday, June 8, 2004
Upgrade for shops at airport gets look
By Dan Wascoe
The Minneapolis (MN) Star Tribune
The next step toward revamping stores and restaurants at the two
terminals of Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport could come
The changes, which officials say could double airport concession
revenue, would update the airport's appearance and expand the choices
available to travelers and employees.
At least some of the current stores and franchises could remain, but
with new layouts and signs. But the mix also will include retailers,
restaurants and bars not now doing business at the airport.
A four-member screening panel recommended last week that seven
businesses, including several current concessionaires, be awarded
contracts as part of a 30 percent expansion of restaurants, bars and
stores. Airport officials said the changes could increase the
Metropolitan Airports Commission's annual concessions revenue from $9
million to about $20 million.
The chance to update and expand the offerings at Minnesota's biggest
airport, one of the nation's leading hubs, drew keen interest from the
national concessions industry. Some hired lobbyists who attended nearly
every commission meeting in recent months and tried to persuade its 15
members to look kindly on their qualifications and ideas.
The screening panel, which consisted of one commission member, two staff
members and a consumer, recommended seven companies from 19 who
If the commission agrees, "You will see several [store and restaurant]
faces you already know and several new faces" starting later this year,
said Gordon Wennerstrom, director of commercial management and airline
affairs for the commission.
The commission's Management and Operations Committee will consider the
screening panel's recommendations at 1 p.m. Wednesday. The full
commission could act June 21.
Wennerstrom said the changes will be scheduled in a way that allows
passengers and employees to have a choice of vendors and restaurants,
without shutting down all concessionaires at once.
The work could be complete in 2006 after an addition is built on the
north side of the main Lindbergh terminal.
The expansion will add about 29,000 square feet to the current total of
nearly 100,000 square feet, he said.
The changes will affect all parts of the main Lindbergh terminal and the
Humphrey terminal, except for Lindbergh's G concourse, where Northwest
Airlines manages its own pool of concessionaires.
The four panel members visited airports in Atlanta, Cincinnati, Detroit,
Houston, Newark and Pittsburgh.
"We probably averaged six or eight different stores at each airport,"
Wennerstrom said. The panel members looked at how merchandise was
presented and customers were treated -- "their hallmark way of doing
He said the visits persuaded team members that "our program is as good
as any out there." The airport's Northstar Crossing, which resembles a
shopping mall, has won numerous industry awards. But the Minnesota
legislative auditor said that the commission's failure to update its
concessions contract had resulted in lower revenue than it should be
The screening panel rejected the idea of awarding the entire airport's
concessions business to one company, deciding instead to recommend a
finalist for each of 17 batches of concession locations. A batch is a
group of stores, restaurants or services.
Although the commission will provide space, the winning vendors will pay
to remodel or install their businesses in that space. They were
evaluated on prospective financial performance, ability to attract
quality employees, commitment to disadvantaged businesses and creativity
in reflecting the state's geographic and cultural characteristics.
Wennerstrom said local emphasis would be reflected in store names, store
designs and product offerings.
Recommended businesses include:
. Minnesota Retail Partners, a joint venture between Host
International and CBR, Inc., both current concessionaires, seven of the
. Host International, the airport's current dominant concessionaire,
four batches, including most of its current leases.
. Anton Airfood, a current concessionaire, two batches.
. Creative Host, one batch, including half the main food court in the
. CA One Services Inc., one retail batch in the addition of the
. Project Horizon (InMotion Pictures), one batch, including a DVD
. Theisen Vending Inc., one batch operating vending machines,
including video-game arcades.
Current vendors not recommended include The Paradies Shops and Aramark
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