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Dubai duty free-getting it right.

DUBAI DUTY FREE has been in the forefront of the news since it was launched in 1983. Not only has it been responsible for leading a duty free revolution in the Middle East, being the first to develop a modern and Western style duty free facility, but it also has been a key participant in the promotion of Dubai as a business and tourist destination.

"The promotion of Dubai is high on our list of priorities," says General Manager, Colm McLoughlin, the Irish power behind the rapid rise of Dubai Duty Free. "When Dubai's director general of civil aviation, Mohi-Din Binhendi, first envisaged a modern duty free facility at Dubai, he saw it as a service to passengers to complement the other facilities offered at the airport. Over the years it has become a most effective promotional tool for Dubai and we are delighted to continue in this way. It is very satisfying to hear both our own organisation and the emirate of Dubai spoken of in such an enthusiastic way all around the world."

The growth of the elegant marble floored shopping complex has been phenomenal, increasing in turnover from a mere US$20m in the first full year of trading to last year's record breaking US$100m. The continuous attention to detail has more than a little to do with this success. New shops and refurbishing of existing outlets is a constant process. Watching passenger trends and responding to the demands of the multi-national mix of customers all contribute to "getting it right".

This positive attitude to giving customers what they want resulted in a 73% expansion of the shop floor area in December 1989, providing improved areas for electronics, pens and lighters, watches, food and other "supermarket" products and menswear. In turn shops in the existing complex have been the subject of refurbishment and improvement. Such new outlets as a sunglasses shop and a cosmetics outlet have recently been launched.

Dubai Duty Free has a number of unusual features which brings people to see for themselves. One of these is their wide range of merchandise which encompasses everything from fur coats to French bread. Unlike most duty free operations where liquor, tobacco and perfume are the best sellers, Dubai's top seller is gold. 18ct, 22ct and 24ct jewellery and gold bars are sold just as fast as passengers can wield their credit cards and dollars. In 1990 Dubai Duty Free sold 1.2 tonnes of gold.

One of the many promotional activities in which Dubai Duty Free has been involved was the hugely successful Duty Free Finest Surprise promotion where customers could enter a lottery to win a luxury automobile such as a Porsche, Mercedes, BMW or even a Rolls Royce. Promotion of the duty free complex and of Dubai as a destination have led them into the production of a world ranking annual snooker tournament, last year's Karate World Championships, the Gulf Tennis Tournament, international golf, powerboat racing, squash exhibitions, show jumping and horse racing and even junior ice hockey.

Despite the setback created by the Gulf crisis, Dubai Duty Free is again operating on full steam ahead with a batch of 50 recently recruited new staff, management training, a new look for the Duty Free and airport magazine and a continuous stream of new products to add to the existing selection of well over 60,000 lines.

The story of Dubai Duty Free is one of the industry's biggest successes and Colm McLoughlin comments: "It isn't Binhendi or myself who are responsible, but the whole team. Without the commitment and support of our 500-strong staff, we would never have achieved what we have done today." It is no wonder that the complex has become a pattern for other operations all round the world.
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Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Special Report
Publication:The Middle East
Date:Dec 1, 1992
Previous Article:Shipping-maintaining the balance.
Next Article:Gulf economies: give us room to trade.

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