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How to motivate retail growth

May 22, 2019

Alpha’s Sharjah base has helped transform Air Arabia’s onboard retail programme by focusing on investment in people. Julie Baxter discovers how

Set the scene
Air Arabia is a sleeping partner in Alpha’s Sharjah catering unit but since 2010, the two have developed an inspiring supplier-customer relationship. Mark Whelan, general manager, of the unit explains: “The business required investment, both in the product and facility, but most importantly in the people.”

Define the relationship
Air Arabia had historically been treated as a shareholder rather than a customer he added. “Changing that relationship has brought a hugely positive shift – now we innovate together, learn, drive engagement and work as a team across everything we do. We see ourselves as Air Arabia’s flight catering department – invested in the success of the airline.”

Make a plan
The process throughout 2018 saw a refresh of everything from the menu cards to product packaging and the online experience. Behind the scenes better analysis of sales was undertaken, improvements agreed and added training and incentives implemented to support growth.

Invest in people
He adds: “Cabin crew showed great enthusiasm for the programme and a real desire to promote the right products to the right customers.”

Respond to demand
Responding to feedback, the programme added ambient and combo option and the whole look and feel was enhanced. Whelan says: “We’ve reduced our waste impact too and drive pre-ordering for a better understanding of what needs to go onboard. The selection is café quality, with availability on every route and a focus on fresh.”

Celebrate success
He concludes: “Our improvements have been achieved by prioritising people, reducing working hours but increasing salaries and investing in accommodation, events and recreation facilities. Productivity is up and engagement is massively improved. Our people give us everything so it’s only right we give them as much as we can too.”