Heinemann ASPAC ‘working on’ regional expansion

By Andrew Pentol |


Marvin von Plato, CEO, Heinemann Asia Pacific.

Heinemann Asia Pacific has expressed its satisfaction with the evolution of the business and is working on expanding its footprint in the region.

A subsidiary of German family-owned company Gebr. Heinemann, Heinemann Asia Pacific was established in 2010 to represent the group in the Asia Pacific region. Based in Singapore, the company has retail and distribution businesses in locations such as Hong Kong, Australia, Malaysia, Indonesia and China.

Marvin von Plato, CEO, Heinemann Asia Pacific, who assumed the role last year told TRBusiness: “Overall, we are very satisfied with our business in Asia Pacific. We started almost 10 years ago, consistently developed our operational capabilities and now focusing on expanding our regional footprint.”

He added: “Asia Pacific is experiencing strong growth and our objective is to select the right opportunities at the right time in the right place. This is what we have consistently done over the past years”

The company, which took part in the Singapore Changi Airport liquor and tobacco tender that was ultimately won by Lotte Duty Free is continuing to monitor different markets with a view to expansion. “This is in line with our strategy to consistently and sustainably invest in Asia Pacific and to grow over the long term”


One location where Heinemann Asia Pacific has invested is Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) where it operates eight single-category Sweet Dreams confectionery shops. Raoul Spanger, COO, Gebr. Heinemann indicated at this April’s trade media conference in Hamburg that the company’s Asia Pacific business had been boosted by the confectionery operations in Hong Kong. He said: “After a difficult start in Hong Kong for confectionery, it is now up to expectations and our Sweet Dreams concept is developing very well. We are quite happy with it.”


Heinemann Asia Pacific operates eight single-category Sweet Dreams confectionery shops at Hong Kong International Airport.

Offering his perspective on the Hong Kong operations, which have not been helped by the public protests inside and outside the airport, von Plato said: “The eight unique confectionery concepts perfectly cater to the type of passengers travelling through HKIA.”

Asked by TRBusiness to assess the impact of the protests on business he remarked:  “Naturally, a change in political environment leads to a change in travel patterns and anything that influences passenger movements has a commercial impact as well. This is also the case for HKIA.

“We are used to dealing with changes like this around the world, so we are working closely with Hong Kong International Airport to keep the operations running, provide a consistently high level of service for all passengers and ensure our staff are safe”


Public protests in Hong Kong have obviously impacted sales in Heinemann Asia Pacific’s Sweet Dreams stores at HKIA.

In Australia, operations have certainly benefitted from rising Asian passenger volumes. Heinemann Asia Pacific has been operating at Sydney International Airport since winning the duty free contract in 2014 and also runs the duty free concession at Gold Coast International Airport, having secured the seven-and-a-half-year contract in April 2018.

Trading under the Heinemann Duty Free branding, the retailer operates a 430sq m departures shop and 300sq m arrivals outlet at Gold Coast Airport. Both stores will be significantly expanded and receive a completely new design concept.

“We are on track at Gold Coast Airport and waiting for the next step of the terminal expansion,” remarked von Plato. “We are working closely with the airport to consistently provide an ideal duty free environment which benefits passengers” he added.


The Heinemann Asia Pacific arrivals and departures stores at Gold Coast Airport will receive a completely new design concept.

Australia in general is a focus for the company. “We are looking to leverage on our Sydney operations. In Australia, we also see the trend of growing Chinese passengers exploring the region. That, combined with operational excellence and consistent improvement of the assortment and shop design has led to an increase in sales”

Over in Malaysia, where Heinemann entered into a joint venture with DFZ Capital in 2016 and runs its own operations at Kuala Lumpur International Airport Terminal 2, business is performing well overall. von Plato commented: “Due to the political situation between China and Korea there was a big trend of Chinese passengers travelling to Malaysia which benefitted our business. From that high base, however, we have seen a slight correction, but overall we are very satisfied with developments in Malaysia”


Leveraging on the company’s Sydney Airport operations is a clear focus in terms of its Australian operations.


Regarding the DFZ partnership, which covers international and domestic airports, seaports and border towns, von Plato commented: “We have been in this partnership since 2016 and are glad to see how both companies have grown together. Within this partnership, we are focusing primarily on DFZ’s  local market knowledge and Heinemann’s overall operational excellence. Through this joint venture and our own business in Malaysia, we are able to tap into the vast potential of the country in general.”

Another strong partnership is the one between Heinemann Asia Pacific and Plaza Bali — Heinemann Asia Pacific’s second largest distribution customer — in Jakarta Indonesia. Plaza Bali opened its first arrivals shop at Soekarno Hatta International Airport in January 2019. “We have had a solid partnership for a long time. It is not only the arrivals shop where it is good to see the business growing, but also in Terminal 3, which changed the business landscape at the airport when it opened in 2017.”


Heinemann has curated duty free offers for the Australian cruise market on Carnival Spirit with a particular focus on cosmetics, liquor and local brands.

On the cruise front, Heinemann Asia Pacific already runs the duty free concession on Carnival Spirit and also won a tender this year with Heinemann Americas for three Royal Caribbean cruise ships. von Plato, who indicated the company is pursuing other cruise opportunities commented: “Operating the retail business on Carnival Spirit is a great experience. We want to grow further in the cruise channel and have the ability to be present globally.

“The cruise business is a focus area which is not just linked to Heinemann Asia Pacific. The Heinemann Group has a global presence with offices in Miami, Hamburg, Singapore, Sydney and Shanghai which enables us to meet the different demands of various cruise companies.”


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