Travelers pass by and stop into a Hudson News store every day at airports and train stations across America, and soon they’ll notice something’s missing from the pervasive store.
Namely: “News” is getting the axe.
Hudson Group is rebranding to shed the “Hudson News” name, the company’s most visible subsidiary, and replace it with “Hudson.” This change began last year when redesigned stores reopened in Dallas/Fort Worth and Seattle-Tacoma airports in April 2013, some of Hudson’s largest markets. The stores dropped “News” as part of the redesign that keeps traveler essentials like food and tech — not just newspapers and books — at the center of the business.
The result: the company’s seen a 20 to 40% profit increase in the redesigned stores. This increase was noticed only at stores that stayed the same size after the redesign, and doesn’t count stores that expanded.
Laura Samuels, a spokesperson for Hudson Group, says this rebranding was necessary to reflect what travelers want to stock up on for flights, train or bus rides in 2014.
“The name is more modern,” said Samuels. “Our stores are no longer newsstands, they’re travel essentials stores. The digital revolution meant that travelers wanted and needed products and accessories to enhance their use of technology. The wireless age was upon us, and travelers were obsessed with power and sound.”
“At the same time, the national obsession with health and fitness kicked in. Travelers were no longer satisfied with a Coke and a salty or sugary snack from the Big Candy Mountain. Now they wanted a protein shake, vitamin water and something healthy to eat. Because the airlines were cutting back (or entirely eliminating) free meal services, demand rose astronomically for healthy meals, packaged to take on board. Now you take care of yourself, airlines used to take care of you.”
Not only do these stores sell tech, it’s also part of customer service at the redesigned locations. iPads are mounted to walls to alert customers to sales and promotions and help them locate a product.
This change isn’t so much an overhaul as it is a redesign, intent on giving customers ease of access to what they’re looking for on-the-go.
“It’s the same products we’ve always sold in Hudson News, just redisplayed and more appealing to the eye,” said Samuels. “All of the selections and colors coordinate, as our books and food sections, for example, have their own colors. And people are understanding and learning the new layout really well. Every store is organized depending on the history of sales at that location.”
The new design includes a marketplace concept selling entrees, fruit and beverages, as well as a destination souvenir section specific to the city the store is in.
Hudson completes over 90 million transactions per year. Last year, revenues exceeded $935 million, and Samuels said the company is projecting to exceed that number for 2014. The company has stores in 60 airports across the U.S. and Canada totaling more than 700 stores.
“The airlines are sometimes our landlords, like at JFK, for example, with British Airways and American Airlines owning their own terminals,” said Samuels. “They all seem to be very pleased with the new look and feel. Sometimes airports have middlemen, where Hudson reports to a company running the concession program, and that program reports to the airport.”
Samuels said she’s not sure when all Hudson stores will be redesigned, but that the busiest stores are being done first. So far, the new Hudson stores are opened in airports including Philadelphia, New York-JFK and LaGuardia, and Los Angeles.