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Whilst undertaking a High Street shopfitting project requires a great deal of planning and preparation, the complexity is increased many fold when those works take place in an airport. Astabridge have been fitting travel retail displays for over twenty years and are well versed in the intricacies of airport installations.
Amid heightened airport security, shopfitting staff need to be properly vetted. Permanent passes are only issued following extensive background checks and temporary pass holders need to be escorted throughout their entire airside visit. Elsewhere tool passes need to be obtained that detail every piece of equipment to be taken airside. Knowledge of the correct systems and procedures is essential. Clearly airport systems and procedures have to be robust and uncompromising and any paperwork errors can result in refusal of entry.
Materials used in the construction of travel retail display fittings need to conform to stringent airport guidelines. Sheet materials and electrical components need to meet the necessary fire ratings and glass shelves are typically not only toughened, but also backed with safety film and mechanically fixed. A good working knowledge of airport construction guidelines is essential to the proper design and manufacture of airport displays.
Airports do not close to accommodate shopfitting works or the installation of retail displays. As a result there is a greater emphasis on safeguarding the safety of staff, visitors and contractors alike. Risk assessments and method statements are subjected to the closest scrutiny and on every project fitters will be required to attend a health and safety induction. In many instances this will require a separate trip to the airport for all concerned in advance of the project commencement.
As the volume of airport traffic increases, the airside installation window has become smaller. At one UK airport Astabridge’s fitters are required to accept delivery of their fixtures, unpack, install, clean and dispose of waste between midnight and 4am. There is no margin for error. Planning needs to be precise and sufficient staff need to be mobilised to ensure that the works are completed on time.
In days gone by contractors were asked to obtain insurance indemnities of £50 million or more to cover deliveries expedited via the airport apron. Nowadays deliveries need to be made via external contractors who will arrange for display fittings to be delivered airside to the place of work having first x-rayed the contents. Whilst it is a more efficient and secure delivery method there is an extra layer of administration required by the shopfitter to ensure everything goes smoothly.
In servicing international airports there are an increasing number of variables to consider such as possible language difficulties, local differences in health and safety requirements, changes in electrical voltage and not least travelling long distances through a range of climatic conditions. All of these factors need to be considered when expediting the project.
It is clear that travel retail shopfitting is a market sector which presents its own unique set of challenges!