Dubai’s tax-free shopping haven rides high


By Issac John

Dubai Duty Free (DDF), the tax-free shopping haven located at Dubai International Airport, has been riding high ever since its started operations in 1983.

Being consistently ranked as one of the top airport retail operations in the world, DDF, now in its 27th year of operations, occupying a retail space of 15,000 square metres at Dubai airport’s three state-of-the-art terminals.

DDF showcases a wide range of top quality merchandise spread across a retail space of 15,000 square metres at the airports three terminals.

DDF’s merchandise includes jewellery, electronics, cosmetics, liquor, luxury goods, sports equipment, designer wear, children’s’ wear, toys and books — all put on sale at dedicated areas.

The world’s largest airport retailer has recorded a double-digit rise in sales in first six months of 2010. It posted a 16 per cent increase in sales to Dh2.19 billion   in the first six months of the year compared with the same 2009 period. 
 Fragrances remain the best-selling category and achieved sales of Dh301million in the first half, an 18 per cent increase over the same period in 2009 and accounting for 14 per cent of total sales.

Gold sales surged by 11 per cent to Dh234 million while confectionery sales were up by 16 per cent to Dh175 million and electronics rose by seven per cent to hit Dh160m million accounting for six per cent of the retailer’s total revenue.

Departure sales were up by 18 per cent over the same period in 2009, sales in arrivals rose by four per cent and public shops showed a sales increase of nine per cent in the period.

DDF Managing Director Colm McLoughlin said: “We were pleased that 2010 began well for Dubai Duty Free as we have seen an increase in consumer spending across all categories, with average spend per departing passenger at $47.”

In 2009, a year that posed many challenges for the global airport retail sector, Dubai Duty Free has bucked the trend by announcing record annual sales of Dh4.1 billion, representing a 3.76 per cent increase over the previous year.

Commenting on the 2009 annual sales, Shaikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President Dubai Department of Civil Aviation and Chairman of Dubai Duty Free Establishment, said: “Dubai Duty Free, like most businesses, felt the impact of the global recession particularly in the early part of the year. However, I am delighted that the operation has successfully turned sales around in the second half and that a new annual record has been achieved. Congratulations to the management and staff on their success in 2009.”

McLoughlin said 2009 would be remembered as a year of challenges. I am pleased that as a retail operation we reacted quickly to those challenges and worked closely with our suppliers and staff on a number of initiatives.”

In 2009, Dubai Duty Free recorded over 20.3 million sales transactions with an average of 55,800 sales transactions per day.

Category wise, perfumes continued to be the No. 1 category with sales topping Dhs567 million up two per cent on the previous year and representing 14 per cent of total sales at Dubai Duty Free. Liquor and gold remained as the No. 2 and No. 3 category respectively. The tobacco category increased by 15 per cent to become the No. 4 selling category and Confectionery sales rose by 11% to take the No. 5 position.

2009 was also the year in which Dubai Duty Free was announced as the biggest single airport retail operation in the world based on sales analysis issued by Generation Research.

The announcement, which was made in June 2009, places Dubai Duty Free just ahead of sales at London Heathrow and Seoul Incheon Airports for the first time.

A glowing testimony to DDF’s spectacular success is the fact that it has received more than 150 awards from industry, media and government bodies.

In 2009 too, DDF continued to win accolades. The year began with a win in the USA when the readers of Global Traveler magazine voted Dubai Duty Free as the “Best for Duty Free Shops”. In May, the operation won two awards: the “Middle East Travel Retailer of the Year” award at the DFNI-Asia Pacific awards in Singapore and the “Best Duty Free Shopping” award at the Business Traveler M.E. Awards in Dubai.

Dubai Duty Free currently employs more than 3,500 staff of 44 different nationalities and is one of the premier “employers of choice” in the UAE.  —