On location • Duty Free Americas

Creating a niche in the Caribbean

The footprint in North, Central and South America is complemented by a presence in two locations in the Caribbean, but more will follow.

The company runs airport stores at either side of the island that is home to both Haiti in the west and Dominican Republic in the east. In the former, it runs departures and arrivals shops at Port-au-Prince Aéroport International Toussaint Louverture.

Punta Cana, on the eastern tip of the Dominican Republic, is the more significant location in terms of sales, and is by a distance the country’s biggest airport by passenger traffic at just under 8 million in 2018.

The vision of airport owner and investor Grupo Punta Cana helped imagine and build one of the Caribbean’s most identifiable airports; local stone and cane are the dominant design components, and the effect offers a lovely Sense of Place. It’s a destination that is also very international.

Eye-catching environment: The Terminal A shop at Punta Cana Airport is among the highest quality in the region, with terrific brand executions and a well-ranged offer.

There’s a strong US visitor population of course, but direct flights to many western European cities add variety to the customer mix, with Russian traffic (many connecting in Paris) on the sharp rise too.

Punta Cana Terminal A (which handles 70% of the traffic) is also home to one of the most impressive store environments in the DFA network. The 1,200sq m walk-through store is a bright, open environment with high-class fit-outs and many strong brand executions.

The business is built on fragrances & cosmetics, liquor & tobacco, but there is a strong emphasis on luxury and increasingly on growth sectors confectionery and electronics.

Specialist stores for sunglasses (DFA’s first when it opened last year, housing a superb Ray-Ban zone and collection) and Victoria’s Secret also stand out with fine-tuned ranges and classy merchandising.

Across the airport, the company runs around 5,000sq m of space, with 16 shops (mainly in departures, though arrivals accounts for around 10% of sales) and a bar, the latter in Terminal B with views over the runway. Terminal A is the undisputed highlight. With its upscale look, digital assets and ease of access into and between categories, this is a store that would not be out of place at any major international airport, and shows what investment can deliver at a regional or tourist location.

This isn’t the only focus of business in the Caribbean. Watch out for an ambitious, US$8 million project to build a duty free shop alongside restaurants and entertainment in the new Pier 3, San Juan, Puerto Rico. Plans for the store remain in development but all travellers embarking at this pier must pass through it, presenting a big opportunity in a new territory. (More on this project soon.)

The Moodie Davitt Report • The Online Magazine • March 2019