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Q&A with Rapid Retail’s Managing Director, Nick Daffern

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Nick Daffern, Managing Director of Rapid Retail, answers questions about his firm’s involvement with international stadia and how operations managers can increase revenue and offer fans and spectators a better experience.

Q: Nick, how would you describe your business?

A: We have worked with stadia since 2007, so we have had plenty of time to develop the way in which we work. Firstly, we are not just a supplier that builds and drops a retail unit or kiosk – we are problem solvers. Secondly, the types of relationships that work well are those where we have a relationship not only with the retail manager, but also the facilities people and the food and beverage guys, so the whole retail/queuing/food and beverage needs are examined.

Q: You work with stadia overseas, what element of this work differs from working with personnel at UK stadia?

A: Actually the requirements are very similar across the globe. What does differ is the business culture, and it is imperative that before you work with a client in a new country, you get to know the cultures, their likes, dislikes, and technical things, such as how they might settle their invoices. This is best done beforehand so there are no nasty shocks, for either party.

Q: What have you seen change positively since you launched Rapid Retail in 2007?

A: Worldwide we are seeing bigger and bigger stadia and those that are used for a wider range of activities, not just sport. It is not unusual now to see a political gathering at a stadium one day, a concert the next and then sport at the weekend. This has meant that stadia managers have to think smart to ensure they deliver an excellent experience to a diverse range of fans and spectators, while developing broader revenue opportunities.

Q: This must be a challenge for you, working with these differing requirements?

A: Any business needs to be flexible; we have had to adapt our products and services to meet these changes. It is not just revenue that is at the top of the list, safety is key, too. While we can’t divulge specific figures, we know that by spreading programme-selling kiosks around a ground for example, fans queue for less time and there is not a ‘crush’ at key points, something we are all keen to avoid. This applies to any type of stadium event.

Q: You have been working with French soccer club Paris St. Germain for many years, what do you supply there?

A: We started off developing one bespoke retail unit. It soon became clear that this was very successful and further units were needed, yet at the same time the units had to be more manoeuvrable. So my co-founder Andy Moss designed a kiosk concourse shop that can be easily transported, is strongly-branded and can be quickly opened up and then closed again at the end of the match. Paris St. Germain now has several of these (see below), they reflect the high end of the brand while being practical to use.

Q: Food and beverage is a key area for a stadium operator in terms of delivery to the spectators and revenue. What is your advice to improve both areas?

A: Frankly, operators need to  stop thinking  ‘traditional’ in terms of maintaining just one or two areas to eat and drink. It is far better to spread the load to several areas around the stadium. This not only reduces the queues, but reduces the numbers being served at each outlet, so the fan receives better-quality food and drink as the F&B operator is not so pressurised. One of my bugbears is quality; there are still some stadia where the food and drink service can  be improved hugely. Fans deserve to be treated well. I suggest that directors occasionally come out of the directors’ box and sit in with the crowd to experience the event at grassroots level; then make positive changes. Spectators have to be encouraged back and they will only do that if the offering is good as they become more discerning – there is a lot of competition out there!

Q: Surely, though, stadium operators have to keep a tight rein on budgets?

A: As with any business that is true and when you are dealing with such huge figures as a lot of operators are, it is easy to lose track of what is being spent and where. We have tried to help out customers by offering units to rent, not just purchase. This immediately negates the need for upfront investment, which is often a stumbling block, especially for the smaller stadia. On top of the flexibility with funding, we will take back a unit at the end of its life and replace it.

Q: How do you address environmental policies that are becoming a greater part of contract requirements now?

A: Our units can have lights powered by solar technology, so this not only addresses contractual requirements, but also keeps power bills down. Plus we recycle units where we can; it is something that is always at the forefront of our future developments.

Q: Finally, how do you envisage stadia will develop in the future in terms of retail?

A: As mentioned earlier, stadia are ever-increasing in capacity, so the need for operators to become even more flexible and forward-thinking is key. Why not put merchandising units outside the ground, so people can buy before they go through the turnstiles, for example? We are also seeing the growth of ‘community’ stadia and their needs to bring in revenue, in ratio terms, will be even greater; these operators need to look upstream to see what is working and then adapt a model to suit them. Whichever type or size of development, I am sure that we can help with advice.

 

Nick Daffern is Managing Director of Rapid Retail. He can be contacted via email at: nick@rapidretail.co.uk

For further information, visit: http://rapidretail.co.uk/

T Concourse Retail Unit M Paris St kiosks

 

Rapid Retail scores hat-trick of Premiership wins

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Rapid Retail, which designs, supplies and builds bespoke retail merchandising units, is heading into the new season with new orders from Tottenham Hotspur, Southampton and Leicester City football clubs. The company now counts all but three of the Premiership clubs as customers, as well as a growing number of other retailers.

These contracts come hot on the heels of additional orders from leading European football club and 2014 league title holders, Paris St Germain, where it has finalised a long-term deal to supply a further three units. Rapid Retail’s bespoke units will allow the French club to boost its football team strip and memorabilia merchandising sales on match days as well as at other key events.

The six-figure deals uniquely allow the clubs to either purchase or rent the units, with the flexibility to upgrade them or alter their use depending upon customer needs.

Spurs, Southampton and Leicester are all using units to deliver potential merchandise sales to more than 100,000 match day fans.  Rapid Retail units are also being used for new season football strip launches and to take the pressure away from the main ground retail shops when they need to undergo refurbishment. A growing element of retail activity within the units is the supply of custom-printed club shirts to the fans. Nick Daffern, Managing Director of Rapid Retail said:

In 2008 when we launched the business, we had just one key customer, Manchester City, which still retains our units. The fact that so many football clubs in all divisions now call on us to supply a diverse range of retail units illustrates the confidence that they have in us and in the flexibility we can offer. We are also seeing more enquiries coming from other sporting and retail areas.

Matt Payne, Head of Retail, Licensing and Merchandising at Leicester City Football Club, added

It is important that the fans enjoy a complete match day experience.  The fact that Rapid Retail can supply such high-quality units enhances that experience and relieves pressure in other retail areas of the ground, meaning the fans are served more quickly.

Football merchandising sales in the UK are reported to be the highest in the world. Fans of all ages seem keen to buy new season home and away strips, as well as other football-related merchandise, with the average price of a home shirt being £50. Manchester United shirts remain the highest selling in the world, with 1.5 million shirts sold last season*.

*Source:  TSM Plug 

 

Pictured:  John Evans Financial Director, Rapid Retail with Keston Whiteman Retail Supervisor, Leicester City FC.

IntoOutdoors venue and shopping

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IntoOutdoors, the UK’s first retail and lifestyle shopping centre, has received planning permission for a £35 million scheme in the heart of England.

Owner and developer Eagle One will combine an extensive 45 unit retail centre with outdoor leisure pursuits – two fishing lakes, cycle routes, outdoor exhibition and activity areas – and holiday lodges set within its 125 acres site fronting the River Avon. Breaking ground in 2013 it has hopes to be completed by summer 2014.

Simon Tothill, Director of IntoOutdoors commented:

“In a harsh economic climate, IntoOutdoors is a unique retail concept which offers an alternative to traditional and internet based retailing. We believe it will succeed by making the shopping experience a truly leisure based activity with IntoOutdoors designed to appeal to all age groups.

Knight Frank is instructed as Development Consultants and letting agents for the scheme.