Heinemann confident on Asia Pacific prospects amid busy times in NZ

By Benedict Evans |

Heinemann Sydney tax and duty free

Heinemann posted total turnover of €321m in Asia Pacific, a solid 83% increase year-on-year, yet representing only 62% of pre-Covid levels.

Heinemann Asia Pacific CEO Marvin von Plato remains upbeat on the recovery prospects of its key operations across the region.

The company posted total turnover of €321 million in Asia Pacific last year, up 83% year-on-year.

While accounting for 62% of pre-Covid levels, a result impacted by passenger numbers falling short of expectations with Sydney and Kuala Lumpur in particular hit by the delayed return of Chinese travellers, Von Plato said: “We are seeing a continued recovery from the pandemic, with Australia nearly at full recovery when it comes to passenger volumes.”

Speaking to this publication in an exclusive interview for the Leading Asia Pacific Operators report, Von Plato continued: “Our business in Hong Kong has come back strongly, in fact some stores have already achieved sales figures comparable to 2019 in some months, and Malaysia’s new visa-free agreement with China has had a noticeable impact on Chinese passenger numbers in Kuala Lumpur.

“In the short term, our growth ambitions are very much centred on deepening our footprints in our markets to realise our promise of being a ‘valuable travel companion’ for our customers.”

The most recent of Heinemann Oceania’s wins is its entry into the New Zealand market from Q2 2024, with three new retail concepts at Auckland Airport (AKL). Of the three retail concepts, which cover luxury timepieces, jewellery, and international fashion and accessories, Plato said: “This is an important new market for us to capitalise on our synergies with our Australian business, and to really deepen our knowledge of Oceania travellers.

“The Sydney-Auckland route is the busiest international route out of Australia, and it’s a natural extension of our Oceania business, which we are very excited about.”

Heinemann Duty Free Malaysia

Despite Chinese travel lagging behind the rest of the world, Heinemann’s operations in Malaysia have remained relatively strong.

As reported, retail took a 64% share of Gebr. Heinemann’s €3.6 billion (approx. US$3.883bn) consolidated group turnover in 2023 – a 25% uplift over 2022 and reaching parity with 2019, as disclosed at a management meeting held in Hamburg in April.

Airport operations dominated the turnover share at €2.56bn (74%), border stores contributed €280m (8%), cruise a further €239m (8%), and airlines €102m (3%).

Its Europe (59%) and Middle East Africa (31%) business accounted for the lion’s share of group turnover (combined delivery 90%), with Asia Pacific providing 8% (up from 4% in 2022) and the Americas contributing a further 2%.

At a category level, globally LTC (liquor, tobacco and confectionery) was the clear winner, providing the business with turnover of €1.68bn (47%) for the year. Thanks to its 50% stake in Nobilus Group (as of June 2023), however, the beauty category wasn’t far behind at €1.46bn (41%).

A version of this feature first appeared in the TRBusiness May 2024 issue, as part of the Leading Asia Pacific Operators report. Click here to read the report in full.

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