Long-Haul Plan Enables Duty-Free Take-Off

Allan Lim

When designing and fitting out retail interiors the devil is always in the detail – especially when the installation site is another country’s busy international airport. 

In CDI World’s long history of managing projects, the critical importance of good planning is rarely voiced – for our managers it’s simply second nature. Often it’s only when looking back at a job that we realise the amount of effort that goes into making things happen when and how they should.    

Our renovation of two store interiors for duty-free operator, Nuance Group, at Kempegowda International Airport, Bengaluru is a case in point. 

The sea voyage alone was around 1,900 nautical miles and it would be a long haul back to the workshop to correct any errors.

Regarded as India’s IT capital, Bengaluru is a cosmopolitan megacity with a population exceeding 10 million and a growing airport to match. Attractive retail is vital to any transport hub and the client wanted us to give a luxury feel to their Arrival and Express stores, sited in a new terminal extension.    

We decided to fabricate all the furniture in our Singapore production facility where we had the required skills before shipping them out to India for installation. Rigorous quality control was imperative. The sea voyage alone was around 1,900 nautical miles and it would be a long haul back to the workshop to correct any errors.

Before production began, the first step was to satisfy the client that the designs would perform well technically and operationally. To help this process we made miniatures of a gondola and cashier counter so we could troubleshoot any concerns. We also conducted a value engineering appraisal. 

As our team crafted the initial pieces, including wall bays, gondolas, cashier counters, and column wraps, they tested them for quality, durability, and structural stability. Items intended to hold heavy merchandise – such as the adjustable metal liquor shelving – were also load tested. 

We carefully packed the completed components into eight 40ft containers ready for transportation by sea-freight to Chennai – the nearest port to Kempegowda. Each piece was accurately labelled and the sequence of packing was carried out meticulously to ease unloading and save time on-site.       

Suitably skilled installation specialists weren’t available in Bengaluru so we flew out an experienced team comprising the project manager, five carpenters, and an electrician. We also engaged a local team of ten labourers to ensure sufficient manpower.

There were a number of challenges to overcome. We had just one month to finish the installation, and some of the furniture was very large and extremely weighty – the whole of the cashier counter, for example, was clad with solid surface material making it difficult to manoeuvre. 

Sensitive management was needed to ensure teams with different work cultures blended into a focused and productive unit. One of the project manager’s most effective strategies was to hold a Toolbox Meeting with all the workers every evening so individuals knew exactly what was expected of them before work commenced.     

The result was two stores completed on schedule to the high-quality levels expected, and further evidence that looking after the details will help the biggest plans to fly.

Discover more about CDI World interior projects here.

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