Dubai Duty Free, which celebrated its 31st anniversary on 20th December, recorded annual sales of Dhs6.999 billion (US$1.917 billion) last year.
For the past several years, Dubai Duty Free has been listed amongst the top three airport retailers in the world in terms of sales. Based on the recent annual report by independent industry researchers – Generation Research, for the fourth time (2008, 2009, 2010 and 2013), the operation has nudge ahead to No.1 position, ahead of Seoul Incheon, Singapore Changi and London Heathrow airport.
Its founding principal of providing travellers with a first class retail experience in a shopper-friendly environment and a diverse range of products still holds true to this day. Employing over 5,500 people, Dubai Duty Free has consistently raised the benchmark for airport retailing and it continues to grow.
To date, Dubai Duty Free has received over 470 awards which bear testimony to the operation’s retail success including being named the “Airport Retailer of the Year in Single Location” at the prestigious Frontier Awards 2014 held in Cannes; “Best Airport in Duty Free Shopping” presented at the Business Traveller Middle East Awards; “Middle East Travel Retailer of the Year” from DFNI Asia Pacific; the “Superbrands Awards for Excellence in Branding” received from Superbrands Council UAE and the Global Traveller US Magazine award for “Best Duty Free Shop”.
In the past year alone, Colm McLoughlin was presented with several awards including the “Sir Michael Smurfit Business Achievement Award” which was presented at the 25th Annual American Celtic Ball hosted by the Irish Chamber of Commerce USA (ICCUSA) held in New York. The award recognizes his leadership over the past thirty years and he joins a list of renowned business leaders from Ireland for their significant contribution to international business. He was also presented with the “CEO of the Year” at the 3rd Asian Leadership Awards, and the “Lifetime Achievement - Editor’s Choice Award” at the inaugural Conde Nast Traveller ME Awards last November.
In 2014, Colm McLoughlin was named one of the “People of the Year” by The Moodie Report, a highly-respected online industry publication, “Best Manager of the Year” at the Europe Business Assembly’s Socrates Awards held in London. In September of this year Colm received the 4th Asian Leadership Award “Hall of Fame” award and also in September he was presented with the “Outstanding Contribution to Business” Award at the CEO Middle East Awards organised by ITP Publishing.
In October, he was named a recipient of the Irish Presidential Distinguished Service Awards (Business and Education category) for the Irish abroad, presented by the Irish President, Michael D. Higgins at his official residence at Aras an Uchtarain in Dublin, Ireland.
While the successful running of the shopfloor is a major focus for Dubai Duty Free, the operation is highly committed to promoting Dubai through a series of high level sporting events including the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, which is owned and organized by Dubai Duty Free.
Meanwhile, Dubai Duty Free's subsidiary businesses include The Irish Village, The Century Village and the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium; home to the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. Located on the same site in Garhoud, the recently opened Jumeirah Creekside Hotel, which encompasses the Aviation Club, is owned and developed by Dubai Duty Free and is managed by the Jumeirah Group. The hotel, which opened in July 2012 is already proving to be a popular business and leisure property. In close proximity to Dubai’s international airport it is a five star hotel of international standards. There are 292 spacious rooms and suites offering guests a refreshing interpretation of luxury and an authentic experience of Dubai. The Irish Village Bar and Restaurant in Dubai is also owned and run by Dubai Duty Free. A winner of several industry awards and named by Newsweek International as one of the ‘top ten meeting places in the world’, it continues to attract visitors from all over the world.
Dubai Duty Free Celebrates its 31st Anniversary
Dubai Duty Free marked its 31st anniversary with a special 25% discount on a wide range of merchandise over three days which began at midnight on 17th December and continued until midnight on the operation’s anniversary day on 20th December. Total sales for the three days topped Dh188.86 million (US$51.74 million).
The decision to extend the annual celebration beyond the one day was due to the high passenger traffic expected over the pre-Christmas holiday weekend. The busiest day passenger-wise was Friday, 19th December when over 80,000 passengers used Dubai International Airport.
The anniversary discount for 72 hours resulted in a spending spree at Dubai International and at Al Maktoum International (DWC) with sales figures on 18th December reaching Dhs37.60 million (US$10.3 million) and Dhs.44.17 (US$12.10 million) million on 19th December. On the anniversary day itself, 20th December, Dubai Duty Free daily sales reached over Dhs107 million (US$29.33 million) in the 24-hour period.
Dubai Duty Free opened for business 31 years ago (20 December 1983) and employed just 100 management and staff. Astoundingly, 38 of them remain to this day.
Dubai Duty Free is currently operating over 26,000 square metres of retail space at Dubai International Airport (DIA), the retail footprint will expand by a further 7,000 square metres with the opening of Concourse D in 2015. This new concourse will cover some 65,000 square metres and will be the home to the 100 airlines that currently operate from DIA’s Terminal 1, Concourse C.
Meanwhile, the Dubai Duty Free operation at Al Maktoum International Airport at Dubai World Central continues to do well and covers 2,500 square metres. In the long term, the airport has capacity for over 160 million passengers and ultimately, the retail operation will cover some 64,000 square metres.
In another important expansion, The Irish Village which is part of Dubai Duty Free’s Leisure portfolio, was officially inaugurated by Ireland’s Taoiseach Enda Kenny, TD. The new extension, which overlooks the lake and the DDF-owned Jumeirah Creekside Hotel, has increased the restaurant’s outdoor capacity by 70%. The Irish Village is known for its live concerts and famous Irish artists performing there have included Bob Geldof, Mary Black, Sharon Shannon, Dara O’ Briain and Tommy Tiernan.
Whether it is on the golfing green, the tennis courts, the racecourse or even the high seas, sponsorship and the support of international events has been an integral part of Dubai Duty Free’s marketing strategy since 1983.
A supporter of golf for many years, Dubai Duty Free is a proud sponsor of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic and the Ladies European Tour Omega Dubai Ladies Masters, held every year at Emirates Golf Club.
In addition to this, Dubai Duty Free hosts a series of high-profile golf tournaments, including the annual Dubai Duty Free Golf World Cup, Dubai Duty Free UAE Nationals Cup, Dubai Duty Free Golf Cup and Dubai Irish Golf Society tournament.
Away from the golfing fairways, the firm tennis favourite with UAE tennis fans and a global TV audience is the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, owned and organized by Dubai Duty Free. The event comprises a WTA Premier 5 tournament played back-to-back with an ATP World Tour Series 500 Tournament.
International horse racing has provided an excellent medium for Dubai Duty Free to capture the global media attention and the Dubai Duty Free Stakes in the UK in April, the Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup (Ascot) in August, the Dubai Duty Free International Raceday in September are part of the operation’s racing sponsorship in the UK. The operation is also the title sponsor of one of the biggest races in Europe, the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby, which is held at the Curragh Racecourse in Ireland each June.
By supporting so many events at the highest level and all around the globe, Dubai Duty Free is effectively promoting Dubai’s sporting, leisure and business facilities, which are second to none. And with more and more world-class sportspeople choosing Dubai to showcase their talent, there is set to be much more to come in the future.
Corporate Social Responsibility
In 2008, Dubai Duty Free established its own Corporate Responsibility (CR) department in-house under which the Dubai Duty Free Foundation is managed. In addition, the CR department is committed to reducing the Environmental impacts and health and safety risks associated with the storage and retailing of goods. It is the Company’s policy to operate an Integrated Management System in accordance with ISO 14001: 2004 and OHSAS 18001: 2007.