The biggest Cartier boutique to grace the global travel retail channel has opened at Istanbul Airport, just as tourism is reviving across Europe – and as Turkey draws Russians to holiday there. The French brand’s stunning space, all 1,400 square meters of it, also has a 40-metre gold facade in a corner position facing the outside, making it visible from a distance.
Cartier has partnered with Gebr’s joint venture. Heinemann, Unifree Duty Free and ATÜ Duty Free, to open the boutique, which is located in the luxury watch and jewelery area of the airport. He is flanked by Omega on one side and local goldsmith Atasay on the other.
The arrival of a Cartier store of this size is a coup for Istanbul Airport. The Turkish center already has a number of high-end brand boutiques, including Bottega Veneta, Bulgari Celine, Christian Dior, Fendi, Gucci, Hermès, Louis Vuitton, Prada and Saint Laurent in an area dubbed ‘luxury hill’.
Cartier adds additional packaging. ATÜ Duty Free CEO Ersan Arcan commented: “We consider the presence of Cartier at Istanbul Airport – one of the first names that comes to mind among elite global brands – as an essential development for (our) boutique retail. .
Jan Richter, Heinemann’s buying director of fashion, accessories and jewelery at Heinemann, added: “Cartier is one of the top three luxury brands in the world. It represents the legendary watches and jewelery passed down from generation to generation.” Iconic pieces include her Tank and Santos watches; The Trinity ring created by Louis Cartier in 1924 and the Juste Un Clou bracelet discovered in 1971 in New York. An ‘Icon Bar’ at the center of the new store showcases some of the most famous products.
For today’s luxury airport shoppers, the product mix also includes new and contemporary lines such as Clash De Cartier and modern interpretations of classics such as Santos in order to appeal to a younger demographic. The entrance area highlights pieces from the current collection, as well as leather goods, perfumes and sunglasses.
Turkey invites the Russians in
So why choose Istanbul for its biggest airport store, and why now? The unit, in fact, was planned a while ago, but was postponed due to the pandemic. Contract negotiations with Cartier were finally finalized in 2021. The brand has been actively building its presence in Turkey according to Cartier’s Turkey & Levant managing director Nicolas Martin, while the airport boutique provides visibility beyond the region as well.
Unfortunately, from a sales perspective, Cartier will also benefit from Turkey’s decision to ignore NATO sanctions resulting from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, encouraging Russians to travel directly to Turkey. Turkish Airlines added more than 300 flights to Russia before the summer according to the newspaper i.
Travelers are likely to be affluent and avid duty-free shoppers. However, given how remarkably stable the Russian economy has been since the outbreak of war against Ukraine in February, despite sanctions — and with the ruble rising again against most currencies, including the Turkish lira — middle-class Russians may visit also the Cartier boutique in Istanbul. The airport.
It is ironic that Cartier can profit in this way. The brand’s owner, Swiss-based luxury conglomerate Richemont, headed by South African billionaire Johann Rupert, along with Gucci owner Kering, withdrew from the Responsible Jewelery Council in March over its continued ties to Russia in the time.
In Richemont’s 21/22 fiscal year ending March, the company’s decision to suspend trading activities in Russia – which accounts for less than 2% of group sales – led to a negative impact of €168m ($169m, today ) in the operation of the result company.
During FY21/22, Richemont’s jewelery houses – Buccellati, Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels – delivered what the group called “a step change in performance” with combined sales of over €11bn. The performances of Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels were described as “outstanding”, helping to increase their market leadership.
Back at Istanbul Airport, even without the high-spending Russians, the hub was consistently attracting international passengers and lifting the airport’s ranking during the pandemic. The main nationals came from Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait.
As a gateway for Turkish Airlines, which kept most of its route network open during the Covid-19 crisis, Istanbul was dropped from 14.th country in 2019, in sixth place in 2020 and second in 2021 after Dubai International, carrying 26.5 million passengers (all based on Airports Council International data). Last year, airport traffic overtook major Western European airport retail hubs such as Frankfurt, Paris Charles de Gaulle, London Heathrow and Amsterdam Schiphol airports.
The resistance of luxury
“The luxury segment has proven to be extremely resilient during the Covid-19 crisis,” said Heinemann’s Richter. “Because of the intrinsic and enduring value of a precious piece of jewelry, it is attractive to buyers. At Istanbul Airport, which was open when many other airports were closed, luxury brands performed above average.”
It is not surprising that Heinemann will continue to use the rich layer of luxury and as part of this strategy is strengthening cooperation with leading luxury brands worldwide, of which Cartier is just one example, as the long list of brands implies high level above.