Changi Airport's liquor and tobacco stores are set for an ambitious $85 million overhaul that promises travellers more space and choice of products, as well as unique offerings.
Among the highlights are double-storey stores, a Long Bar set up by Raffles Hotel to serve Singapore Sling cocktails and other drinks, as well as a wider selection of wines from Spain, Italy and Germany.
The planned enhancements at Changi are among DFS' "most ambitious" and most expensive, said its chief operating officer, Mr Michael Schriver, at a joint media briefing with Changi Airport Group yesterday.
DFS offered the improvements as part of its successful bid for a fresh six-year contract to run the liquor and tobacco stores at Changi, defeating other global airport retail heavyweights like Europe's World Duty Free Group.
Renovation works will start next month at Terminal 1 and span all three terminals.
New stores will be opened from the year end until 2016 when Terminal 2 works will be completed, said DFS Group, which has been running the outlets at Changi Airport for more than three decades.
Features like the Long Bar and a members-only lounge, both to be set up in Terminal 3, are unique concepts that have not been seen before at other airports, said DFS, which operates at 18 airports worldwide including those in Hong Kong, Japan, India, Australia and the United States.
Travellers at Changi will find global brands that are available at other major airports but the actual range and mix, as well as overall experience will be different, said Mr Schriver.
He said: "The customer profile here is different from that in Hong Kong International Airport, for example, where there is a higher concentration of mainland Chinese travellers.
"We want to make the airport here a different environment by bringing in some things that are more locally iconic so that the customer shopping here at Changi has a memory of Singapore when he leaves the airport."
Given Changi's diverse passenger traffic, there will be wines, spirits and other products to suit all tastes and budgets, DFS said.
There are also plans to expand the range of single malt scotch - Changi will have the largest assortment in any airport - as well as cognac.
While budget travellers now make up more than a quarter of Changi's total passenger traffic of 53 million, sales have continued to grow for DFS.
Mr Schriver said: "The method of transportation or the airline a passenger chooses to fly, generally speaking, is not an indicator of purchase behaviour. The country they come from is more of an indication of their purchase behaviour."
Changi Airport executive vice-president (commercial) Lim Peck Hoon said it is important for Changi to work with like- minded partners, as airports are competing not just for passengers but shopping receipts.
She said: "We compete not just with other airports but downtown retailers as well."
The stakes are high, given that sales from liquor and tobacco, as well as perfumes and cosmetics, at Changi Airport amount to more than $900 million a year. This is about half of the airport's total annual receipts from shopping and dining.
According to industry estimates, the annual global airport retail business is worth more than US$40 billion (S$50 billion).
To boost takings from commercial activities, Changi Airport plans to have a retail-cum-airport project, code-named Jewel. It will be built by 2018 in front of T1, where a carpark now sits.