Paradies-Lagardere General Manager Hamid Larbi was recognized in the “Teamwork Makes the Dream Work” category of the Philadelphia International Airport’s (PHL) Employee Recognition Program. This distinction acknowledges employees who create a positive experience for guests through service and delivery while collaborating with other organizations.
All retail and dining spaces at PHL fall under the PHL Food & Shops program managed by MarketPlace PHL. Companies like Paradies-Lagardere are tenants that bid on airport contracts when spaces are available to bring their own brands and other partner brands to enhance the shopping and dining experience at the airport. “Our contracts are signed by MarketPlace PHL, and we commit to doing our best to make sure our presence in the airport brings a positive added value to the airport community and passengers,” said Larbi.
MarketPlace PHL and Paradies Lagardere collaborate to meet and exceed customer satisfaction. “MarketPlace PHL challenges our competitors and us to bring new concepts and tailor our business to current trends,” said Larbi. “They also encourage us to increase our level of execution and upgrade the design of our stores and service level, which falls in line with Paradies Lagardere’s mission of exceeding the expectations of our customers and business partners.”
As a general manager, Larbi oversees the operation of 10 stores at PHL, including Brooks Brothers, PGA Tour Shop, Pandora, Brighton, Spanx, Heritage Books, Today Show, CNBC Express, PHL Marketplace, and Pennsylvania Market. He starts his day by walking to the stores to check in with team members on the sales floor and managers supporting the team. This gives him a quick overview of the overall situation and allows him to address any concerns. He then runs reports to assess the previous day’s sales performance, takes care of office work, assigns merchandising projects, and provides coaching to employees.
“Airports are an open door to the entire world, a place to meet people from all walks of life and different corners of the world,” said Larbi. “It’s also a place where there’s competition and demand for quality, service, and operational excellence. It is challenging, but it makes us better each day.”
Larbi is a U.S. citizen who is proud of his Amazigh (Berber) heritage and birthplace, the mountains of Djurdjura in the province of Kabylie (North Africa). He graduated from the University of Tizi Ouzou Medical School and worked as a project manager and program coordinator with two non-profits in the health field. After moving to the U.S. in 2009, he joined Paradies-Lagardere as a sales associate, then moved up the career ladder. Although the medical and business fields are different, Larbi made this career transition quickly work because they both emphasize working well with people.
“The aviation industry is moving the world. It’s supporting the economy by facilitating business, leisure travel, and social connections,” said Larbi. “It’s a complex operation happening in the background but vital to keep the world connected. I like making people’s travel experiences smooth and pleasant.”
The most valuable skill Larbi has learned is leadership, which he credits to his employer Paradies-Lagardere. He has also learned technical skills related to business analysis and the retail side of his profession.
“One of the most challenging milestones since the beginning of the pandemic has been getting our operation on a new inventory management system as a pilot platform,” said Larbi. “It was more of a learning curve for myself and my team, but after several months we gained a lot of comfort, and we started to enjoy the benefits and mobility brought by this new technology.”
One of his most memorable moments was working with Cindy Christy, Paradies-Lagardere's previous general manager. “She helped me grow and use my creativity to impact my team’s performance in our brand stores. We had a lot of fun getting the work done,” said Larbi.
Customer centrism and exceeding expectations are what drive Larbi to do the work that he does every day. Last year he led his company’s Employee Engagement Committee for the eastern region. “It was a great experience that helped me build stronger partnerships with my colleagues across the region and companywide,” he said. “Our team at PHL delivered exceptional results on the Gallup Q12 employee survey. This level of engagement led to creating a great work environment for my team.”
Larbi’s goal is to build a team that provides first class customer service that will exceed the expectations of their customers and business partners. “I believe in empowering my team to do the right thing consistently by first clearly setting expectations, providing the necessary training, support, and coaching,” he said. “Second, by acknowledging achievements and recognizing their contribution to the company and our customers’ experience. This approach cultivates a sense of fulfillment and purpose in our employees’ minds and keeps them engaged and happy to be at work.”
In her recommendation of Larbi for the Employee Recognition Program, Paradies-Lagardere sales associate Rosalee Grimes (shown here with Larbi) stated, “There was an employee who was going through a financial hardship, and Mr. Larbi made sure she had heat and checked on her to make sure she was ok. I am proud to work with and for such a kind, professional, fair, respectful, and wonderful boss.”
The PHL Employee Recognition Program was established by the airport’s Guest Experience (GX) Department. Honorees are nominated by their peers and selected by the GX Council Steering Committee’s Employee Conduct and Recognition Committee. For more information, click here.