The Hamburg-based tour operator Gebr. Heinemann rejoiced this week to have ousted Dufry by winning the tender to manage the core business of Düsseldorf Airport, Germany’s fourth busiest air gateway after Frankfurt, Munich and Berlin.
Heinemann, with sales of $2.2 billion (2.1 billion euros) in 2021, will operate a new ten-year concession to operate four duty-free and travel retail stores across the three terminals (A , B, C) from January 10 next year. . The 43,000 square foot space is currently operated by World Duty Free, a Dufry Company, and will be stocked with familiar products ranging from liquor, tobacco, confectionery, beauty, fashion, accessories, watches and jewelry.
Victory is sweet. World Duty Free, acquired by Dufry in 2015, took over the Düsseldorf concession from Heinemann in January 2013 after 20 years at the airport. Recovering it has always been a goal for the family business Heinemann, which is by far the dominant player in the German travel retail market. Since 2013, Dufry has not advanced in Germany and will be absent from next January.
“We look forward to renewing our partnership with Düsseldorf Airport and resuming retail operations there,” Heinemann COO Raoul Spanger said in a statement. “I am certain that this partnership will be very fruitful in terms of unique and future-oriented shopping concepts.”
“Professional and friendly”
In a revealing statement from airport operator Flughafen Düsseldorf, commercial manager Anja Dauser said: “With Gebr. Heinemann, we get a professional and friendly partner with a fantastic concept. We look forward to a constructive and cooperative partnership.
The relationship with World Duty Free had sometimes been thorny. At one point, just before being taken over by the world’s largest airport retailer, WDF described the Dusseldorf contract as “onerous”, with sales growth at the site being “significantly below expectations”.
Heinemann looks at a very different picture. The company said Forbes.com: “Gébr. Heinemann participated in the tender because we are convinced that we can operate the site profitably. Together with the airport, we have developed an excellent retail concept, laying the foundations mutually beneficial activity.
The collaboration between Heinemann and Düsseldorf Airport began in 1992 and now that the retailer is back after an absence of almost ten years, he feels he has enough brilliant ideas to make this comeback a success. According to Heinemann, two reasons it won the tender were its sustainability credentials and a local approach, and both will play their respective roles in the future.
Local themes prevail
The store design, which retains the Düsseldorf Duty Free name introduced by WDF, reflects local themes; sustainable use of materials; and flexibility. Each store offers a range of regional products and showcases representations of Düsseldorf, from art and urban youth/culture to the history of the old town and the city’s status as Germany’s fashion capital. This way, each store has an individual vibe with selfie spots based on local landmarks.
“We are particularly pleased that Heinemann has incorporated this concept into its product range and the design of its shop. Passengers can fill themselves with the atmosphere of the state capital of North Rhine-Westphalia and transport it to the world. This is how the local connects to the global,” said Pia Klauck, Head of Business Operations at Flughafen Düsseldorf.
Meanwhile, a more modular furnishing scheme offers flexibility when it comes to alterations and adjustments. Brand promotions and seasonal campaigns can be set up without requiring complicated changes. It also means less waste and reduced material requirements for shopfitting.
Heinemann, having streamlined its operations, is well placed to add the Düsseldorf business to its German operations, which accounted for around 12% of its annual revenue in 2019. It will also benefit from the growth in passenger numbers after the pandemic. Duesseldorf Airport handled just under eight million passengers last year, up 21% year-on-year, but will be eager to return to its pre-Covid 2019 traffic of 25.5 million passengers then that it was the third busiest airport in Germany ahead of Berlin.