Middle East travel retail sales soar

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Wednesday, Nov 23, 2011

Gulf News

Dubai This year’s Middle East Duty Free Association (MEDFA) Conference, which ended yesterday, strongly focused on the vibrancy of the Middle East’s travel retail market which continued its strong performance despite political instability in the region.

Having attracted a record audience of 486 delegates, the event saw industry experts discussing the future challenges and strategy of the duty free industry in the region.

In his keynote address, Gary Chapman, President Group Services and Dnata, Emirates Group, highlighted the aggressive growth being experienced by the fast-paced airports and airlines in the Middle East.

“If you are focused on this region it’s good news,” he said, adding that with Emirates set to receive an aircraft a month on average for the next few years, the region was set to grow tremendously. And this ambition is being mirrored by other Gulf carriers such as Qatar Airways and Etihad Airways, he added.

“They all have one thing in common and that is growth. We will continue to see growth well in excess of international norms, and that will create phenomenal opportunities,” said Chapman. He added that going by the long-term view, the Middle East would continue to grow strongly.

On target

This has been proven by Dubai Duty Free’s performance in the recent years. The airport retailer’s sales grew 16 per cent as of the end of October, with sales reaching Dh4.2 billion. Colm McLoughlin, executive vice-chairman of Dubai Duty Free, said DDF was on track to achieve a year-end target of Dh5.3 billion.

Duty free sales at Dubai International Airport represent nearly half of the total duty free sales in the Middle East and North Africa, which last year reached $2.4 billion.

Meanwhile, global duty free and travel retail sales grew 13 per cent to $39 billion last year, according to Generation Research, with airports accounting for $23.30 billion.

By Shweta Jain?Senior Reporter

© Gulf News 2011. All rights reserved.