Thinking and dreaming big in Dubai

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Martin Moodie
Martin Moodie is the Founder & Chairman of The Moodie Report.


From my sixth floor room at the excellent Jumeirah Creekside Hotel this week I’ve had a splendid view of┬áDubai’s famous┬átennis stadium (home to the annual ATP men’s and WTA women’s championships) and the Irish Village. All three facilities share something in common – they’re owned by Dubai Duty Free.

The panorama is a powerful reminder of Dubai Duty Free’s extraordinary breadth of achievements over the past 30 years since it was founded in 1983. The company is so much more than a retailer. It’s arguably the most effective marketing arm of ‘Dubai Inc’, a huge generator of funds for the government and for countless good causes, and so much more besides.

I’m here in the emirate to research a book which celebrates that landmark and which we will be publishing at the Cannes show in October.

Yesterday I chatted with Dubai Duty Free Executive Vice Chairman Colm McLoughlin, the man who has driven the operation from humble start-up to retail powerhouse over three decades. At 70 years young he’s going stronger than ever and yesterday regaled me with big and ambitious plans for the coming years.

Business this year will hit around US$1.8 billion and US$3 billion by 2018. In year one it reached US$20 million. Colm loves to rattle off what he calls “trivia” – facts and figures relating to sales levels at Dubai Duty Free. But they’re anything but trivial. The retailer sold 4.6 million cans of beer in the first six months; 3.7 million bottles of liquor (including 1.5 million bottles of whisky); 2.1 million cartons of cigarettes; 1,200 tonnes of chocolate (“That’s around 200 tonnes a month, 50 tonnes a week and seven tonnes per day!” says Colm with a chuckle); 515 tonnes of nuts; 460 tonnes of Nido and 849 tonnes of Tang.

It also sold a whole lot of Rolex’s (over five each day) and other high-end luxury goods. This is truly a retailer that offers something for just about everyone.

Dubai Concourse A - blog

At Dubai International’s magnificent new Concourse A (above), Dubai Duty Free has raised its game to a whole new level, as has Dubai Airports and its food & beverage concessionaires. I’m writing this from the superb Emirates lounge there just before I jump onboard the A380 (direct boarding from the lounge – Concourse A is a dedicated facility for the A380). I also flew on an A380 from London to Dubai (below). What a super experience (with a top-class retail offer onboard).

More of that and of my impressions of Concourse A’s retail offer in my next Blog. But it will have to wait. I have a plane to catch. A very, very big plane.

Dubai A380 - blog

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