The competition to manage the duty-free shops in the Aena airport network has attracted the attention of large international groups. The main operators in the world have taken an interest in the largest tender of duty free of the world. Aena announced at the end of last year the tender for 12 years for 86 stores in Spanish airports, in a business that is expected to generate 18,000 million euros. It is the first time that the Asian and American giants have shown their interest in managing stores at Spanish airports.
This Tuesday was the deadline for companies that want to get hold of any of the six lots in the contest to submit the documentation to guarantee technical solvency. A dozen large companies have submitted the papers for a total of 12 registered offers. Among the competitors are European companies such as Gebr. Heinemann, Lagardere, Aer Rianta and Dufry; Asian Bahrain Duty Free, Hotel Shilla (Korea), GMR (India), Setur (Turkey) and China Duty Free; and the American UETA. The German group Gebr. Heinemann, in addition to presenting himself alone, also competes with Smartseller. And Dufry will also compete with Canariensis.
Aena sources highlight the importance of the Asian and American groups preparing to bid for the network of commercial spaces in Spanish airports. They recognize that the fact that they have shown interest and have presented the documentation to guarantee technical solvency does not oblige these companies to present a formal offer for all or any of the six packages that the Spanish airport operator puts out to tender, but it does evidence the importance of the contract that will put an end to the monopoly of the Swiss giant Dufry.
The Asian China Duty Free Group (CDFG), Shilla and Dufry are the largest groups presenting themselves in the Aena tender. China Duty Free is the world’s number one retail store operator by sales. A few weeks ago, CDFG announced the largest duty-free shopping mall in the southern Chinese province of Hainan. CDFG is specialized in marketing luxury brands in its tax-free business areas. For its part, the Korean Hotel Shilla is one of the largest operators in Asia. It operates duty-free cosmetics and perfume shops at Incheon, Changi and Hong Kong airports. And the Swiss Dufry, which currently controls the entire business that Aena is putting out to tender. Its Spanish subsidiary World Duty Free is one of the companies in a legal dispute with the Spanish airport operator over payment of store rents during the pandemic.
The next step is for Aena to send the plans of the 27 Spanish airports with the distribution of the 86 stores that are going out to tender, with a total area of of 66,000 square meters, under a strict commitment of confidentiality for reasons of national security. Subsequently, they will be given the conditions of the guaranteed annual income for Aena and the percentage of the total sales of each store. In this way, the competing companies will be able to design their offer for the lots into which the airport manager has divided the package that it is putting out to tender.
The adjudication system will change with respect to those held previously. The listed public company has chosen to eliminate the auction scheme to weigh the economic offer and the technical proposal in equal parts. In this way, companies will have to deposit their proposals in a sealed envelope for each of the lots to which they aspire.
This tender, whose adjudication is expected for July 2023, will allow the renewal of the management of these commercial spaces in 27 airports in the Aena network through which 243.6 million passengers passed last year. The specifications contemplate six lots compared to the three of the previous tender: Madrid-Barajas airport, which is the most important in number of passengers; Andalucía y Mediterráneo, which includes the stores at the airports of Almería, Federico García Lorca, Granada-Jaén, Jerez, Málaga-Costa del Sol, Seville, Alicante-Elche, Miguel Hernández and Valencia. The other packages are for the Canary Islands, Catalonia, the Balearic Islands, and the North zone.
In addition, the duration of the contract is substantially increased, from 7 to 12 years, with the possibility of three annual extensions. The companies will have to bid for each package, which are indivisible. Aena limits the total number of lots that an operator can aspire to, to guarantee greater competition. In this way, the case of Dufry, which in the previous contest took over most of the stores, is avoided.
The winning companies will be able to sell more products in the stores they manage. To the offer of alcohol, tobacco, cosmetics and some food they may add luxury items, toys, electronics, water and new services such as VAT refunds (both on purchases inside the airport and outside).
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