One-stop superstore proves record breaker
ITS a luxury superstore. It is an ultra-modern mall. What one might call a one-stop shop. The award-winning Dubai Duty Free (DDF) has been described as all this and more by international travellers on a bargain hunt.
The DDF has grown both in size and volume over the years since it was first started 11 years ago. Its operations have set the pace for duty-free shopping in the Middle East.
DDF is is one of the world's top duty-free outlets and ranks alongside Amsterdam and Singapore.
'We have consistently aimed at providing our customers with a top-quality range of products at incomparable prices,' Colm McLoughlin, general manager of DDF, said.
'In addition, we have set out to provide top-class service in elegant surroundings.' Since 1983, the product range has expanded to include more than 60,000 items.
Predictably, gold continues to be the number one selling item.
'Gold represents 18 per cent of our total revenue,' Mr McLoughlin said.
'Customers will either select jewellery items from our wide range of 18, 22 and 24 carat gold, or will opt for gold ingot, purely for investment purpose.' The DDF never sleeps. Early in the morning, crowds of jet-setting shoppers are picking their bargains at the airport.
This shopping phenomenon is the result of flight schedules in and out of the emirate which bring hundreds of passengers through the halls of the swanky Dubai International Airport.
'Duty-free outlets worldwide do not normally operate on a 24-hour basis,' Mohi-Din Binhendi, director-general of Dubai Department of Civil Aviation, said.
'Fortunately, the Dubai airport is not located in a densely populated area and we are, therefore, not restricted by international laws which reduce the number of night-time flights.
'As a result, we have a 24-hour passenger flow-through and we operate to meet this demand.' The busiest time of the day at the airport is between 10 pm and 2 am. During this time a majority of customers are passengers in transit who have around 45 minutes stopover between destinations.
'To cater to the needs of departing passengers and those in transit, a full complement of 570 DDF staff offers an around-the-clock service to an estimated six million travellers annually,' Mr McLoughlin said.
'With over 100 staff on duty at any given time, shoppers are guaranteed a fast, friendly and efficient service.' The DFF has a vast range of quality goods to offer. Everything from the latest in hi-tech electronics and cameras to luxury goods from all over the globe can be bought at unbeatable prices.
Sales in the first six months of this year were six per cent higher than in the corresponding period of 1993. This increase rate exceeded the two per cent growth in passenger traffic through the airport during the same period.
'June and July of this year have been much better than the same period in 1993 and this is a good indication that sales will continue to increase for the rest of the year,' Mr McLoughlin said.
The DDF has chalked up an impressive roster of awards. In 1992, it was the recipient of the first annual Merit of Distinction Award from Duty Free - Gulf and Africa.
During this time, it was also voted the world's number two duty-free establishment in the prestigious British-based Business Traveller magazine readers' poll.
For three consecutive years, DDF has been voted the Best GCC Duty Free by Middle East Economic Digest.
It has also received awards for its contribution towards the sale of AIWA, Sony, Sanyo and Nikon products.
Last year, the DDF complex was voted Best Duty Free in the World by a joint poll of the publishers of Executive Travel Magazine and Wagon Lits - the world's largest travel agency.