Duty and tax free income surges 315% as Gatwick retail springs back in 2022

By Luke Barras-hill |

Passenger demand reached 70.5% of pre-pandemic levels in 2022.

Net retail income at London Gatwick Airport (LGW) more than quadrupled in the 12 months ending 31 December year-on-year to reach £156.5 million/$186.2 million.

The retail result equates to a 310% rise versus the previous year (£38.2m; 2021), but remains short of the £195.3m haul in 2019.

As reported, passenger traffic surged 421% to 32.8 million for the year in question.

Total retail revenue amounted to £158.5 million, of which £52.7m was contributed by duty and tax free shopping – a 315% rise on the prior year (£12.7 m; 2021).

Net retail income per passenger declined 21% to £4.77 (£6.06; 2021), but still exceeded the £4.19 recorded in 2019.

“This outcome is driven by a combination of factors, including a different passenger mix, new commercial terms with concessionaires, and the full trading impact of the investment made in 2019 to extend the mezzanine in the North Terminal to accommodate a broader catering offer,” according to consolidated financials statements.

The South Terminal reopened in late March 2022 and this, together with the relaxation of government-imposed trading restrictions in 2022 and passenger growth, contribute to the retail income result.

air travel strikes and cancellationsAdept concession management

LGW says it has worked closely with concessionaires to manage the transition back to operations, particularly across the summer months when airports faced staff shortages.

“The outcome was strong sales per passenger across most categories and an enhanced product offering through introducing new brands and concessionaires,” read the statement.

“Catering and specialist shops particularly benefitted in 2022, given the limited onboard catering provision on some key carriers during the summer, meaning both passengers and crew were using these units more frequently.”

Total revenue of £776.6 million for the year ending 31 December was driven by the strong, steady recovery in passenger numbers.

The above total was £76.9 million lower (-9%) versus the same period in 2019, when 13.8m more passengers used the terminals.

The year marked a swing back into the black, with EBITDA reaching £446.3m (-£26.3m; 2021) and profit after tax amounting to £195.5m (-£370.6m; 2021).

LGW says it remains ‘cautiously optimistic’ about a full recovery given current economic uncertainty and inflationary pressures.

Stewart Wingate, Chief Executive Officer, London Gatwick Airport, said: “The decisive actions we took early last year allowed us to offer good levels of service to passengers who travelled through Gatwick. Thank you to all colleagues across our airport, who supported the operation last year as travel restrictions eased and passengers started to travel. This year we will have even more choice of airlines and destinations for travellers, whether flying for business or leisure.

“While we still have some way to go to reach a full recovery, we know long-term sustainable investment is critical to the future of our airport and provides a significant boost to the regional and national economy. This year we are pushing forward with a number of projects to improve resilience and the overall passenger experience, including preparing our planning application to bring the existing Northern Runway into routine use.

“Central to this is our commitment for our business to be net zero for scope 1 and 2 by 2030. The aviation industry is addressing the challenges, and we are working closely with our stakeholders to ensure we create a sustainable airport for the future.”

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