The Los Angeles City Council has approved contracts for new food-and-beverage and retail concessions at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

The 10-year contracts include four food-and-beverage packages and four retail packages for Terminals 4, 5, 7 and 8.

The new LAX concessions will replace existing restaurants and stores in the four terminals, as well as in converted public space. After existing leases expire at the end of this year, the new retail concessions are expected to be built by Summer 2011 and the new food-and-beverage concessions by the end of 2011, airport officials said.

Some of the concession proposals involve a company of Laker legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson, and nearly all of the new concession concepts are based in the city of Los Angeles or Southern California.

Airport officials noted that in recent years, food-and-beverage and retail service at these LAX terminals have received “less than flattering” reviews in passenger satisfaction surveys conducted by Los Angeles World Airports, with LAX often placing near the bottom among major U.S. airports.

According to airport officials, low customer opinions of the concessions resulted in a long-term lag in the growth of passenger spending in the four terminals. The upcoming Dec. 31 expiration of the current concession leases in these four terminals prompted a competition for alternative concessions.

Requests for Proposals were issued in May 2009 followed by five addenda and receipt of proposals in October. Airport staff recommended contract awards covering eight concession packages to the City Council’s Board of Referred Powers last April, and seven packages were approved by the board last month. In addition, two retail packages were approved by the Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners earlier this month.

Airport officials explained that the goal in the food-and-beverage area was to establish a setting where passengers are offered a unique Los Angeles experience with local and regional eateries provided by celebrity chefs and popular local restaurants.

“The competition resulted in a slate of new food and beverage establishments representing some of L.A.’s most sought-after restaurants and celebrity chefs,” LAWA Executive Director Gina Marie Lindsey said. “We have a cast of new, talented and proven restaurants that will help put the ‘L.A.’ back into LAX.’”

In the retail area, the goal was to provide passengers a high-quality shopping experience with a variety of new and innovative shopping options that reflect the Los Angeles region, airport officials said.

“The new retail concessions will add some well-established consumer brands and bring some of L.A.’s most distinctive businesses to LAX, the city’s front door to millions of people traveling through the airport,” Lindsey said.

Concession proposals were evaluated by a panel of LAWA executives on criteria including: overall mix of brands/concepts; financial return and investment commitment; customer service, marketing and operations plan; aesthetics and design intent; and experience and qualifications.

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