Retail in Asia


What’s happening in Asia’s leading airports? Spotlight on Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo and Kuala Lumpur

In this special series, Retail in Asia rounds up the latest news from some of the biggest airports in the region.

Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA)

Famously located within five hours of more than half of the world’s population, HKIA is situated in the biggest developing air market in the world, and passenger numbers are expected to increase to around 100 million annually by 2030; to meet this spiralling demand, a third runway opened last July. This February, Cathay Pacific reopened its lounge, The Deck, while The Pier and The Wing reopened this July.

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SkyBridge at HKIA. Source: HKIA

Just adjacent to the airport is 11 Skies, a self-styled “retailtainment” destination that will  feature more than 800 shops and over 120 dining concepts within the SkyCity complex. Operated by New World Development and K11, it is set to open in phases between 2023 and 2025. Entertainment offerings include the world’s largest indoor and outdoor karting track and a Paddington bear-themed family play experience.

One of the major retail developments is the fully revamped luxury zone, housing more than 40 brands. It has also welcomed three flagship duplex stores – Chanel, Hermès and Louis Vuitton – making HKIA the first airport in the world to house duplex stores of three top-tier brands.

A new service, Luxury Concierge, has also been added to its e-commerce platform this year, according to Alby Tsang, head of retail & advertising, Airport Authority Hong Kong.

“The concierge team will assist and connect customers with experienced brand representatives via several communication tools and video call to shop and reserve coveted pieces. Many renowned luxury brands have partnered with the service, including Louis Vuitton, Alexander McQueen, Bottega Veneta, Bvlgari, Chaumet and Gucci, with more soon to join.”

Intervals Sky Bar at HKIA. Source: HKIA

In April, HKIA launched its first autonomous convenience store, travelwell, near the entrance to the Sky Bridge at gate 24, where passengers can pick up food, drink, souvenirs and travel essentials. Using IoT sensing technology, the store tracks customers’ movements and shopping patterns, automatically detecting the items they select and eliminating the need for checkout queues. 

The Deck lounge by Cathay Pacific. Source: Cathay Pacific

The world’s longest airside footbridge, the SkyBridge, opened less than a year ago in November 2022, and enables passengers to travel between terminal 1 and its satellite concourse via automated walkways and escalators situated within the 200m-long, 28m-high structure, which features an observation deck and the aforementioned travelwell store. Then there’s Intervals bar, a high-end concept by Plaza Premium Lounge that offers cocktail flights depending on how much time you have, and a tapas-style food menu.

Singapore Changi Airport (CAG)
Shilla Duty Free at Changi Airport. Source: Changi Airport

The multi-award winning Changi – it was named World’s Best Airport in 2023 by Skytrax for the 12th time thanks to attractions like nature-themed retail and entertainment complex Jewel, free movies and art installations  – continues to expand its already-extensive range of offerings for passengers. Construction for T5, which will be able to handle 50 million passengers, is poised to commence in 2025, and will be operational around the mid-2030s. 

This September, Changi unveiled Terminal 2’s northern wing, with 15,500 square metres of extra retail and F&B space. Retail brands include luxury Italian jeweller Pomellato and OId Seng Choong, where passengers can pick up Singaporean snacks, pastries and baked goods. New F&B outlets at T2 include Singaporean restaurant Swee Choon, Indonesian brand Kenangan Cafe and traditional Chinese medicine retailer Eu Yan Sang.

Source: Changi Airport

New retailers at Terminal 1 are luxury Italian menswear brand Stefano Ricci – the brand opened its first-ever duty-free store here this May. Accessories brand Beyond the Vine opened a year-long pop-up concept in the Terminal 3 transit area in June selling eye masks, luggage tags and totes alongside new to Changi brand Scarves and Glitter, which sells handmade souvenirs, clothing and accessories. 

Also newly opened in Terminal 3 is Godiva, while Terminal 4 has recently welcomed Starbucks and Burger King. After opening its world’s largest store in Terminal 3 last year, Bacha Coffee has added a duplex outlet in Terminal 4. Jewel’s new retailers include one-stop health and wellness concept Minmed Wellness Collective and Hong Kong bakery Kee Wah. Selling drones, cameras and photography accessories, DJI opened its first Singapore physical store at Jewel this summer. 

Tokyo Haneda Airport (HND)
Source: Villa Fontaine Grand Tokyo

While it’s usually Changi that receives all the airport accolades, a recent report by aviation industry expert crowned Haneda the top airport in the world for 2023, with a score of 80 out of 100 (second was Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport with a score of 75.18 while the only other Asian airport to make the cut was Indira Gandhi at #7, with a score of 67.23).

Why? Well, it has an on-time flight average of 88.4 percent and the highest number of restaurants and shops among the top 10 airports. Haneda has additionally been recognised as the Best Airport in Asia for two consecutive years and was ranked second after Changi for a fourth consecutive year by Skytrax in 2023. 

New retail offerings include the Haneda Airport Garden at Terminal 3, which opened this January and boasts more than 90 outlets, including shops, restaurants and cafes. There are 60 retail outlets, with offerings from Victorinox, Guess, Pro Labo and Beauty Connection. 

The Japanese government, meanwhile, opened #TokyoTokyoBASE at Terminal 3 this August, which showcases traditional and modern Japanese culture. Here, passengers can pick up souvenirs including stationery, ornaments and snacks before boarding their flight.

Source: Villa Fontaine Grand Tokyo

On the accommodation front, WorldHotels recently opened its second hotel in Tokyo, Villa Fontaine Grand Haneda Airport, the country’s largest property directly connected to an airport. The 1,557-room hotel features 12 different room categories, and there’s a natural hot spring on the rooftop with views out to Mount Fuji. The Mercure Tokyo Haneda Airport, meanwhile, is set to open in November 2023.

Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA)
Source: Plaza Premium Group

While KLIA has slipped down the airport rankings of late due to outdated facilities, ambitious plans are afoot: construction of the new Aerotrain system began earlier this year, and several new retail, F&B and lounge options were rolled out in 2023. A major upgrade, meanwhile, is due in 2026. 

In the meantime, passengers can check into a new Plaza Premium Lounge at Terminal 1, where the Malaysian brand opened its first ever lounge 25 years ago. Housing both Plaza Premium Lounge and Plaza Premium First, KLIA now hosts one of the largest Plaza Premium Lounges worldwide with both concepts under one roof. Emphasising a sense of place, it embraces Malaysian culture in its experience and interior design and showcases Malaysian food, local architecture features, and promotes up-and-coming Malaysian artists by turning the whole lounge into an art gallery. 

Over in Terminal 2, Heinemann relaunched its duty free store this May, with a design featuring playful batik prints intended to reflect Malaysian culture.

Source: Plaza Premium Group

As part of the redevelopment, the duty free giant has created a new shop concept, opening up the floor plan for improved visibility across the store, with brands including Kerastase, Vichy, La Roche Posay, Helena Rubinstein, Maison Margiela, La Prairie, Acqua di Parma, Fresh and Le Labo. Heinemann also recently launched its web shop and click-and-collect service for KLIA Terminal 2 passengers, and the brand has taken over gate retail space to provide a more convenient shopping experience, with its total footprint at KLIA Terminal 2 now 1,686 square metres.

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New F&B outlets, meanwhile, include the Hard Rock Cafe, which opened at KLIA this June, and Jamie Oliver opened his first restaurant in Malaysia at Terminal 5 departures earlier this year.