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Mon 6 Jun 2016 09:32 AM

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Dubai Duty Free sales to grow 50% by 2018, says former exec

Former president of Dubai Duty Free said the airport retailer expects revenue to grow by $1bn in two years' time

Dubai Duty Free sales to grow 50% by 2018, says former exec
George Horan, the former President of Dubai Duty Free

Revenue from sales at Dubai Duty Free is expected to grow by 50% in the next two years, according to a former senior executive.

George Horan, who spent 33 years helping to build Dubai Duty Free into the world’s biggest single airport retail business, stepped down from his role as president of Dubai Duty Free last week.

The Irishman had an active role in overseeing the growth of the retailer at Dubai International airport, including the recently opened Concourse D, which added 7,000 sq m of space for Dubai Duty Free.

“It has led to a very positive response from passengers. It accounts for 20 percent of our business now through Concourse D already, which is fantastic,"  Horan said, in an interview with Arabian Business.

Dubai Duty Free also has a growing operation at Al Maktoum International Airport, in Dubai South, where FlyDubai is expected to start to move its operations in the coming years, which will free up more space at Terminal 2.

“Passenger flow will move to Dubai South where passenger capacity will increase from 5 million to 20 million in 2017 in a temporary capacity. FlyDubai will move there in 2017, which will free-up Terminal 2,” Horan said.

“When they enlarge it temporarily we will have about 7,000 sq m of commercial space. Ultimately, when they open the new building in 2023, we will have about 80,000 sq m. There will be six nodes, as they call it, or buildings, and each building will be about 14,000 or 15,000 sq m of commercial space.”

The expanded retail space will have a significant effect on Dubai Duty Free’s figures, with a 50 percent increase expected over the next two years.

“We have revenue of about $2bn and we expect by 2018 that will grow to $3bn. In 2023, who knows where we will be,” he said.

Horan, however, does not believe Dubai Duty Free will expand into new territories. Previous attempts to secure concessions at airports in Colombo and Beirut proved unsuccessful, and with a sizeable operation of its own to run he said it would require a separate entity to enter the international market.

“It’s very difficult and very competitive and there are some huge brand names out there doing this. We would not be able to compete with them unless we formed a new team, independent of Dubai Duty Free, and just chased after this business.

"We’re a $2bn company and we’ll be $3bn two or three years from now, and that’s a big challenge that we have to overcome,” he said.

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