UAE. Dubai Duty Free Executive Vice Chairman & CEO Colm McLoughlin has issued an upbeat message about the trading recovery at the world’s leading international airport. He said that annual sales in 2022 could reach as high as US$1.6 billion as travel returns. This would represent a big leap compared to the figure of US$976 million in 2021.
He also said that, under the right conditions, turnover could return to pre-pandemic levels (US$2 billion in 2019) by 2023.
In an interview with The Moodie Davitt Report, McLoughlin said: “We are already +92% ahead of last year in the first three months. That is fantastic, with traffic returning, investment in our stores, new brands and big promotions.
“We are ahead of budget and on track for a strong recovery. We budgeted AED5.1 billion (US$1.4 billion) in sales this year but it looks as if we are going to do over AED6 billion (US$1.6 billion).”
He added: “We would not be surprised to reach 2019 sales next year.”
To take advantage of the growth, Dubai Duty Free has rehired around 1,500 staff that it had to release during the pandemic, taking its current staff numbers to 4,000, or around two-thirds of pre-crisis levels.
In a further positive step, Al Maktoum International Airport, where operations were suspended on 24 March 2020 through much of the pandemic, will reopen on 1 May. Dubai Duty Free will restore its 4,000sq m of retail space there and take back several hundred more staff.
*The full interview will appear in The Moodie Davitt Magazine for April, out soon.