As a business 'growth' consultant i have a very specific and successful approach to helping companies deploy a 'leverage and build' strategy.

In simple terms I take a look a the existing core competencies of a business to look to see if I can identify and unlock 'growth opportunities' based on 'leveraging' what they already have to 'build' a commercial corridor to new opportunities.

With air travel somewhat restricted and passenger numbers at their lowest point since 9/11 it's creating the inevitable ripple effect on the Duty Free sector, along with the supply chain and associated retailers with the looming job losses occurring as a result.

In the case of London Heathrow, the second busiest international airport in the world, passengers were down 60% to 15.4 million whereas retail—including elements such as car parking and catering—fell by 56%.

Not good reading at any time but - is this an opportunity for the department store sector to look to innovate and save itself?

As usual it's something that seems to be gathering interest and pace in many major cities in China.

The rush of interest in China’s domestic duty free industry is linked to the 13 March announcement issued by 23 departments including the National Development and Reform Commission and the Ministry of Commerce. This outlined a program to jointly develop China’s tax and duty free industry with the aim of building a well-rounded ecosystem “with Chinese characteristics”. (link below)

It's certainly an interesting concept and will require government approval no doubt but it could kicks start revenues that in turn create and sustain jobs for taxpayers.

The reality is that retail innovation has remained stuck in the 20th Century for far too long, what's needed today is to reinvent what was in order to build out a brave new future.

This is a realistic solution that leverages the existing real estate, can engage consumers via free to access, free to use social networks with employees becoming part of the social strategy.

Throw into the mix 'live streaming' from the store to build a brave new future and your getting closer to a digitally connected social savvy consumer.

To do this will require collaborative input from many stakeholders to take a long hard look at what a 'leverage and build' strategy can do to get things moving again.

Would this get people out of their 'safe bubble' and out shopping again?

I guess there's only one way to find out!