A string of luxury retailers have made a New Zealand debut opening up shops in Auckland Airport's recently refurbished international departures terminal.
Luxury handbag brands Kate Spade and Michael Kors, along with Italian retailers Furla and Maxmara, have each opened their first New Zealand store in the terminal.
The Airport's luxury shopping precinct began opening in July last year, first with Michael Kors and jewellery retailer Partridge's Rolex store. Since then other brands such as Coach, Lacoste, Fossil, Montblanc and Boss by Hugo Boss have opened permanent stores.
Richard Barker, general manager of retail at Auckland Airport, said luxury was a segment the Airport was previously missing, and work to secure the new market entrants began over two years ago.
Auckland Airport carried out consumer research to identify what brands were most in demand and were missing from New Zealand's shopping arena.
"When we first did this research the likes of H&M and Zara weren't even in the country and those [brands] came up but their formats are too big for airports so we spoke to lots of brands and came up with the proposition of 'best of New Zealand and the world'," Barker said.
"We deliberately aimed for what is described ... as 'affordable luxury' that had appeal for [Kiwis] and international visitors."
Other luxury retailers such as Gucci and Louis Vuitton were considered but deemed too out of reach for most so the Airport selected "tier 2" alternatives, Barker said.
The revamped terminal is also home to All Blacks, Icebreaker and Whittaker's stores to service international visitors, he said.
The Airport's departures terminal has been going through expansion and refurbishment for close to three years. Part of the revamp was to introduce a new food and beverage offering, Barker said, including new eateries Better Burger, Mexico and Al Brown's Best Ugly Bagels.
Next month, popular UK food outlet WonderTree will open in the terminal.
"We wanted people to ... choose to come to the Airport earlier and go 'I'm saving up for that trip and I'm going to treat myself by going to one of these luxury stores or early to eat dinner with my family'."
Barker said it was common for international retail brands to enter a new market through airport terminals. "It gives them ... exposure to a high-value customer base straight away and it enables brands like Kate Spade to reach all of New Zealand with one store.
"Also, passenger growth through airports keeps steadily growing so from a retailer's perspective it's an attractive place [to be]."
Retail analyst Chris Wilkinson said international retailers often partnered with airport operators who run the store on their behalf. Wilkinson said he expected some of the new retailers to expand into the high streets. "We definitely know the big brands are being courted for upcoming developments and there has been a lot of interest in trends ... from Europe and US brands."
Around 10 million people went through Auckland Airport last year. This is expected to grow to 30 million in 2030 and 40 million in 2040.