From humble beginnings, Dubai Duty Free has grown into one of the biggest travel retail operator in the world, with sales of US$1.888 billion in 2015.
Founded in 1983, Dubai Duty Free recorded first-year sales of US$20 million. In 2015, Dubai Duty Free as the group, which incorporates the airport retail operation and its Leisure Division, announced turnover of US$1.933 billion. The figure includes Dubai Duty Free retail sales, which reached US$1.888 billion, making Dubai Duty Free the No.1 single airport retail operation in the world in terms of turnover.
In 2015, Dubai Duty Free recorded 27 million sales transactions, an average of 74,000 per day, across Dubai International Airport and Al Maktoum International in Dubai South.
Employing nearly 6,000 people, the operation has consistently raised the benchmark for airport retailing and it continues to grow. Dubai Duty Free currently operates some 34,000 square metres of retail space at Dubai International Airport, including Concourse D which opened in February. The new Concourse is a modern, state-of-the-art airside facility that will serve up to 100 international airlines and 18 million passengers annually and is reached via an elevated rail system. Concourse D takes Dubai Duty Free to an all new level, with a bright and spacious customer-friendly retail space centrally located close to a range of restaurants and the departure gates.
In addition to its retail operation, Dubai Duty Free operates a Leisure Division which includes The Irish Village, Century Village, Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium, home to the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships and The Jumeirah Creekside Hotel. To date, Dubai Duty Free has received over 500 awards such as “Best Duty Free Shopping in the Middle East” from Business Traveler Middle East Awards and Frontier Awards for “Airport Retailer of the Year”. Other recent awards include The BURJ CEO Award for “Best Global Services” and “Brand of the Year” in Retail - Duty Free category at the prestigious UK World Branding Awards.
Dubai Duty Free’s Executive Vice Chairman and CEO, Colm McLoughlin, also received several awards including the CEO Middle East Awards for “Retail CEO of the Year”, “Business Leader of the Year – Retail” from Gulf Business Industry Awards in September 2016 and the “Irish Presidential Distinguished Service Award” presented by the Irish President Michael D. Higgins in 2014.
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, Dubai Duty Free Darts Masters, Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby.
Dubai Duty Free 32nd Anniversary
Dubai Duty Free marked its 32nd 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 Dhs178.5 million (US$48.5 million).
The 32nd Anniversary celebrations saw a series of cake cutting ceremonies in various locations which commenced on 16th December in DDF head office and Al Maktoum International, at Terminal 2 and Concourse A on 17th December and on the actual anniversary day, 20th December, at Terminal 1 Concourse C and Terminal 3 Concourse B.
Dubai Duty Free opened for business 32 years ago (20 December 1983) and employed just 100 management and staff. Astoundingly, 33 of them remain to this day.
With the opening of Concourse D in February this year, Dubai Duty Free now operates over 34,000 square metre of retail space at Dubai International Airport (DIA). The new concourse is a modern, state-of-the-art airside facility that will serve up to 100 international airlines and 18 million passengers annually and is reached via an elevated rail system. Concourse D takes Dubai Duty Free to an all new level, with a bright and spacious customer-friendly retail space centrally located close to a range of restaurants and the departure gates. The new retail offer covers 7,000 square metres and introduced new brands including Tiffany & Co., Burberry, Tory Burch and Cartier.
As a major category, Gold & Precious Stones is situated ‘centre stage’ as the passengers enter the departure lounge. Arranged as two circular counter islands and covering 350 square meters, the stylish layout encourages passengers to pause as they move through the department.
Dubai Duty Free’s first major push into online retailing going well, a dedicated Web Shop has been centrally positioned for customers picking up items they reserved on the DDF online service.
Meanwhile, at Al Maktoum International, the operation of 2,500 square metres will grow in line with the massive development plans of Dubai South, which ultimately cover some 80,000 square metres of retail.
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. And more than just marketing the company itself, these sporting endeavours have also helped to propel global perception of the emirate.
The sporting ‘season’ in Dubai began in January with the Omega Dubai Desert Classic. As a patron sponsor of the tournament, Dubai Duty Free entertained guests in style at the Emirates Golf Club while Englishman Danny Willet, following his win at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, conducted the draw to win a Mercedes Benz S500 in Dubai Duty Free’s Finest Surprise Promotion.
The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, which is owned and organised by Dubai Duty Free, went fantastically well. Held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the tournament carries a prize pot of $4.6 million. The WTA/ATP Championships, which took place from 15 – 27 February, was won by Sara Errani from Italy and Stan Wawrinka from Switzerland, who both claimed their first Dubai title.
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.
Following the huge success of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Royal County Down Golf Club in Northern Ireland in May 2015, the operation returns as part of a three year agreement as title sponsors for the 2016 tournament at The K Club in County Kildare from May 19-22 with a newly increased prize fund of €4million.
Other sports to benefit from Dubai Duty Free’s support include the Dubai Duty Free Darts Masters, Emirates Airlines Dubai Rugby 7’s, and UIM XCAT Powerboat World Series to name a few.
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.
In October 2004, Dubai Duty Free launched the Dubai Duty Free Foundation, a charitable body founded under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority and Chairman of Dubai Duty Free, and with Colm McLoughlin as Chairman of the board. The Foundation, which aims to raise funds for worthy causes with a particular emphasis on causes that directly benefit children, has since donated funds to several charities, both at home and abroad.
Among the many charitable initiatives the operation has supported over the years include the opening of the US$1.5 million Dubai Duty Free Sports Complex at Lycée Jean-Baptiste Pointe du Sable in Haiti, as part of the operation’s support to the travel retail industry-led Hand in Hand for Haiti initiative. The school was built as a humanitarian response to the catastrophic Haitian earthquake of January 2010.
The Foundation also assisted to restore eyesight to 800,868 people in India through the Sight Savers Programme and has built houses for those affected by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and funded one village to build 32 houses in Binotong Alangalang, Leyte following the devastating typhoon ‘Haiyan’ that struck the province of Leyte in the Philippines in November 2013.
Meanwhile, as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility programme, Dubai Duty Free also encourages its 6,000 staff members to recycle plastic waste and turn it into useful products through its Plastic Recycling Drive, and therefore collectively focusing on the 4R’s: Reduce, Re-use, Reinvent and Recycle.
To date, the Foundation has supported 37 local and 51 overseas charities since 2004, a clear indication of Dubai Duty Free’s ongoing commitment to the community.
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.