Hughes & Hughes seals €1.5m Heathrow deal
Sunday Business Post – Done Deal section – March 30 2008
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Irish book retailer Hughes & Hughes has invested €1.5 million in two outlets at Heathrow Airport’s newly opened Terminal Five (T5), in London.
With a combined total of 4,000 square feet of retail space, the two new stores will employ 60 staff.
Built at a total cost of stg£4.3 billion, Heathrow’s T5 will cater for 30 million passengers annually. Hughes & Hughes, the only Irish retailer based in the terminal, will operate alongside global brands Prada, Tiffany & Co and Harrods.
Hughes & Hughes chief executive Derek Hughes said securing the T5 contract was a major coup for the company. ‘‘There is a real ‘who’s who’ of international retail represented in Terminal Five, so it is very exciting for us,” he said.
Over the course of its initial five-year tenancy agreement with the British Airport Authority (BAA), the two Hughes & Hughes bookstores are expected to generate sales of €70 million.
BAA awarded the contract to the Irish-owned retailer, following a four-month tendering and consultation process.
‘‘There was strong international competition from global retailers,” said Hughes. ‘‘We were up against people like Borders and WH Smith. It was great to come out ahead.”
The company’s background – it has been involved in the specialised travel retail sector for fifteen years – was a major factor in the BAA’s decision to award the contract, Hughes said.
‘‘We have a good track record for the last five years in London City Airport, and also in Dublin, Shannon and Cork,” he said.
‘‘The ability to deliver the design, the operational side of things and the product focus, as a specialist bookseller, was important. We also had to come up with a strong financial proposal.”
The €1.5 million capital expenditure means the new outlets feature the latest in bookstore design and technology.
‘‘They are leading-edge bookstores that surpass any other bookstore you would see in the world,’’ Hughes said.
‘‘We have put together a whole new design concept with Dublin-based design partners McCabe Design. There is a strong digital representation to the stores. We can take podcasts from the publisher websites, and there is a link with our own website.”
The first Hughes & Hughes bookstore opened in Arnotts on Henry Street in 1983.There are now 21 outlets located throughout Britain and Ireland, employing 325 staff.
The business is still owned and managed by the Hughes family. Last year, its turnover was €42 million. This year, Hughes said he expected revenue to rise significantly.
‘‘Apart from T5, we are also opening in Dundrum and in the Pavillions in Swords,” he said. ‘‘We will go over €60 million in 2008.”
Hughes said further international expansion would be key to the company’s continued growth and success. ‘‘We are an ambitious business and look to compete with the best in the world,” he said. ‘‘To attract strong talent, you have to be a growing business and create opportunities for everyone within it.
‘‘Coming through the process forT5 shows we can compete on an international scale, and we would certainly be looking over the next few years to move into other international airports.”