SAN FRANCISCO — Fast-fashion giant Mango has arrived at San Francisco International Airport.

The Barcelona-based retailer marked the launch of its first U.S. store catering to air travelers with a fashion show last month at Terminal 3.

Deals are pending for Mango stores — called MNG by Mango in the U.S. for trademark reasons — in three more U.S. airports, said company officials, who declined to name them.

Airports make a natural setting for fashion retail growth because of their built-in audience of customers, most of whom have extra time because of requirements to arrive early for security screening, said Nina Lundgren, Mango’s travel retail director for international expansion.

In the last two years the airport has added a freestanding 1,594-square-foot Gucci store, featuring handbags, accessories and shoes, to its international boarding area. A 1,583 square-foot Coach boutique with apparel, as well as handbags and accessories, also opened nearby.

“We are upgrading our fashion retail here,” said Jane Sullivan, marketing manager at San Francisco International, which is owned by the city. “We’ve just completed the development of a retail master plan that allows for upgrades as each lease expires. We estimate that a complete overhaul will take around five years.”

A Burberry store is scheduled to open in May, Sullivan said.

Mango’s unit is 1,100 square feet, about the size of its eight other airport stores in Madrid, Barcelona, London (Gatwick), Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Vancouver, Munich and Düsseldorf. There are a total of 1,111 Mango stores in 92 countries. They include 18 MNG by Mangos in the U.S., which sell affordable fashion, such as the Penélope & Mónica Cruz for MNG line, to a young-to-mature woman clientele.

Like most airport retail, MNG by Mango can be reached only by passengers who have cleared security. The store has access to an almost constant stream of passengers and its neighbors include The Body Shop (one of two in the airport), Swatch AG, Erwin Pearl jewelry and Pacific Outfitters.

The airport unit’s inventory of young women’s sportswear and accessories is a pared-down version of MNG by Mango’s two downtown San Francisco stores, which opened in the last 18 months. They are five blocks from each other and near competitors Zara, owned by Spain’s Inditex Group, and Swedish fast-fashion retailer Hennes & Mauritz.

This story first appeared in the April 9, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

San Francisco International shoppers also are picking up more than Mango’s bright-colored $79 slouchy purses, or other easy-to-grab items to carry on board, as initially expected by the company, Lundgren said.

“Our whole collection is selling well,” including career-apparel looks, she said, wearing such an outfit, a $99 silk kimono-style top and $69 black-lined skirt.

Because of security, airport stores are run as separate operations requiring an airport-approved concessionaire to manage the business, hire employees and handle inventory. Mango chose Bethesda, Md.-based HMSHost Corp., a subsidiary of Milan’s Autogrill SpA, to run its store at San Francisco International.

Joan Ryzner, senior president for retail at HMSHost, said more fashion retailers outside of duty-free stores are starting to find homes at U.S. airports. Fashion retailers will be among 26 stores HMSHost will manage at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport as part of a 66-store change of tenants there in a bid to generate more revenue, she said.

“We’re now ready for top brands to come into U.S. airports,” Ryzner said.

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