Top Travel Retailers Report (continued)

Aer Rianta International

2021 Sales (million)


2021 Rank


Irish state-owned travel retailer Aer Rianta International posted €467.6 million in managed turnover for calendar year 2021. That was a leap of +40% on the first COVID-hit year of 2020 but down by around -60% on 2019. Despite changes in the wider rankings, ARI retains its place among the top 15 travel retailers worldwide, a status it has held consistently over many years.

A game-changing recent development for ARI in 2022, which has the potential to positively influence its ranking in future years, was the capture of the joint-venture contract to run Portugal Duty Free alongside Vinci Airports/ANA Aeropuertos de Portugal.

As reported in February, ANA appointed ARI as its partner for duty free and duty paid retail concessions across eight airports in Portugal – Lisbon, Porto, Faro, Madeira Islands (Madeira and Porto Santo), and Azores Islands (Ponta Delgada, Santa Maria and Horta). The seven-year agreement began on 1 June with the first openings.

The new (temporary) store entrance, introduced since June, offers a glimpse of the changes to come at Lisbon Duty Free through ARI and Vinci Airports

For a company that has traditionally been modest in its approach to bidding risk, and in the face of a strong (and larger) incumbent, this marked a coup for ARI management. Potentially it could be a springboard for further business development under a partnership model that ARI CEO Ray Hernan said suits the retailer.

“This could have a halo effect across the group,” he said of the contract announcement in early 2022. “We also want to engage with other airports that are interested in an agile and flexible partner like ourselves. So we are out there seeking new business, but not at any cost. ARI has a great heritage but this success shows that we are also ambitious and confident about the future.”

Blending local and international at Lisbon Duty Free

With the full opening of operations around the world, other opportunities arise. The UK’s departure from the EU and the reintroduction of a duty free regime between Ireland and the UK allows ARI to present a strong value-driven message on wines & spirits in particular on the busiest routes from Dublin and Cork airports in Ireland.

Investment in physical space, with new and expanded operations in Bahrain and Cyprus, alongside a suite of digital and ecommerce developments across its estate, put the Irish travel retailer on a solid footing to consolidate and possibly expand as business returns.

Investment in Cyprus (pictured) and other locations has raised the quality bar for ARI


Of the other major players in the industry just outside the top 15, the performance of Qatar Duty Free is especially noteworthy. 2021 was a landmark year for the retailer and parent Qatar Airways Group, ahead of a momentous 2022, when the State of Qatar hosts the FIFA World Cup (starting in November).

Qatar Duty Free completed a series of ambitious retail and dining openings in 2021, struck new agreements for space with brand partners and maintained a big programme of terminal expansion at Hamad International Airport.

These factors, with sales and spend racing ahead of traffic growth to hit pre-crisis levels across many categories, led to a strong year for the duty free business, with estimated sales of around US$500 million (€439.7 million at 31 December exchange rates). With surging passenger traffic and further investment this year, expect Qatar Duty Free to advance further up the rankings.

Looking ahead, having cemented its number one status in 2021, China Duty Free Group is likely to build on that in our 2022 figures, even as other travel retailers are buoyed by the return of international travel worldwide.

The anticipated return of Chinese travellers to overseas markets next year should also lift the fortunes of those players heavily reliant on their spend. A continued strong domestic China market, and the attraction of Hainan in particular, will remain factors influencing both Chinese travel spend at home and overseas – and play their part in shaping our Top Travel Retailer rankings well into the future.

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The Moodie Davitt eZine Issue 313 | 28 July 2022

The Moodie Davitt eZine is published 14 times per year by The Moodie Davitt Report (Moodie International Ltd). © All material is copyright and cannot be reproduced without the permission of the Publisher. To find out more visit and to subscribe, please e-mail

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