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WHSmith unveils child-focused brand Zoodle at Melbourne Airport

Friday, 21 December 2012 | By Michelle Hammond

British retailer WHSmith has opened the first store under its new child-focused brand Zoodle, located at Melbourne Airport, with local franchising opportunities believed to be on the horizon.


WHSmith, which has been operating since 1792, is a chain of shops selling books, stationery, magazines, newspapers and entertainment products.


There are more than 1,200 WHSmith stores worldwide, although the majority are UK-based. Others are located in countries including Ireland, France, Denmark, Sweden, India and Australia.


The company’s new brand, Zoodle, is aimed at children. Products include children’s books, stationery, toys, games, gadgets, gifts and snacks.


On December 15, the first Zoodle store opened at Melbourne Airport, in the international departures area. It is the first Zoodle store to open at an airport globally.


Simon Smith, chief operating officer of WHSmith Travel, believes the opening of the store comes at an ideal time.


“We are delighted to have opened our first Zoodle by WHSmith store in Melbourne Airport just before Christmas,” Smith said in a statement.


“[We] are very much looking forward to providing children and their families with everything they need before they fly.”


According to Gilly Gray, Melbourne Airport’s general manager of retail, the new store is a great addition to the shopping mix in the international departures area.


“WHSmith has combined its extensive airport experience and success, and turned it into a fantastic new children’s store,” Gray said.


“We are thrilled that WHSmith has selected Melbourne Airport as the first Australian location.


“Our recently redeveloped international departures area focuses on… stores that are interesting and relevant to travelers. Zoodle is the perfect addition to the Melbourne Airport international departures retail offerings.”


WHSmith typically works through franchise and joint venture partnerships when establishing stores overseas, suggesting there could be franchising opportunities with regard to Zoodle.


The company is actively looking to further expand both the WHSmith and Zoodle brands into new markets. Interested parties are encouraged to contact the business.


Zoodle isn’t the first brand to use Melbourne Airport as a key part of its growth strategy.


In July, Spanish-inspired tapas bar MoVida opened its own airport venue, also in the international terminal, offering travelers an alternative to fast food outlets.


MoVida joins fellow Melbourne eatery Café Vue, and Australian fashion retailers such as Sportsgirl and Witchery.


According to retail expert Michael Baker, principal of Baker Consulting, airports can be an ideal place to establish a presence.


“There’s a lot of foot traffic through airports and a captive audience, so it can be a fantastic place to do it,” Baker told StartupSmart in July.


“However, it depends on what you sell. The foots traffic going through there has to be consistent with what’re you selling… You’re not going to sell too many fridges at the airport.”