by Kevin Rozario (London, United Kingdom)
The recently-announced retail entity, Portugal Duty Free, has ambitions plans to drive up retail revenue as traffic returns, led by a new CEO.
Airport retailer Portugal Duty Free appointed a former Asia executive from Vinci Airports, Alain Brun, as its CEO on August 22. He takes charge of a team of more than 600 staff and over 30 shops and will oversee a country-wide retail refurbishment project currently underway.
Portugal Duty Free is a partnership between ANA Aeroportos de Portugal—which manages 10 airports in the country (and part of Vinci Airports since September 2013)—and Irish travel retailer Aer Rianta International (ARI). It was officially created on June 1 this year after the tie-up was first announced in February 2022 when ARI, was selected by ANA/Vinci Airports following a competitive bid process.
ARI began its extensive revamp of eight airport duty-free locations as part of an 18-month implementation plan. The eight airports are: Lisbon, Porto, Faro, the Madeira Island airports of Madeira and Porto Santo, and the Azores Islands airports of Ponta Delgada, Santa Maria and Horta.
The company says that the new passenger experience will include some novel retail concepts encapsulating ‘Portugalidade’ (essentially what it is to be Portuguese) and says it will deliver “an unrivaled, unique retail proposition.” It is in line with a desire by both the landlord and retailer to create a sense of place across its Portuguese airport network.
Commenting on the appointment, Thierry Ligonnière, Portugal & Brazil Director of Vinci Airports, and CEO of ANA, said: “Alain carries a wealth of experience across several sectors, most notably his aviation industry expertise and extensive experience at Vinci. As he assumes his new position as CEO, we look forward to delivering our bespoke retail concepts across all locations.”
Ray Hernan, ARI’s CEO, added: “Alain shares our commitment to placing the customer at the heart of everything we do to (and) we are excited to begin this new chapter for Portugal Duty Free.”
During the pandemic, from August 2019 to August 2022, Brun was the CEO of Cambodia Airports and before that, he spent four years as Asia Pacific Business as Development Director at Vinci Airports Singapore where he identified potential airport projects and partners (with respect to construction, maintenance and financing) across the region.
Cambodia Airports is a public-private partnership where Vinci Airports holds a 70% stake and the entity holds the concession for the development and management of Cambodia’s network of three international airports serving the capital city of Phnom Penh; Siem Reap the gateway to UNESCO world heritage site Angkor Wat; and the port city and beach resort of Sihanoukville. Before the pandemic, the three platforms serve more than 55 destinations and welcomed 700 regular flights per week.
Back in Portugal, the country has seen some good traffic recovery this year. Despite widespread flight cancellations in the summer, Portugal has been among the most resilient destinations. According to a July forecast from travel analyst ForwardKeys, scheduled intra-European seat capacity during July and August versus May 30, showed Portugal to be down by 2% compared to Spain’s 3% drop, and 5% in Italy. Other Mediterranean countries did better: Greece was down by just 1% and Turkey was flat.
At the end of last year, ANA’s airports still had ground to make up. Passenger traffic at 24.9 million was still less than half of 2019’s 59.1 million, though retail revenue at €67.7 million had reached just over half of the 2019 figure. This largely reflected higher spending per passenger.
[Main image: Alain Brun courtesy of ARI.]