Heinemann says Istanbul contract is ‘biggest success in its history’

By Charlotte Turner |

Unifree Dutyfree, in which Gebr Heinemann is a majority shareholder, has won a contract to operate all airside retail space at Istanbul New Airport, operated by iGA Group, for a period of 25 years.


Heinemann, which will be responsible for a whopping 53,000sq m of retail space, classes this major contract win as ‘the greatest single success in the company’s history’.


The total retail space will comprise of six sections: 6,500sq m will be dedicated to luxury boutiques; 3,000sq m for a bazaar concept, where Turkish products will be sold; 15,000sq m for duty free shops; 6,000sq m will be dedicated to retail activity and sampling stands [a fantastic opportunity for retail theatre-Ed]; and another 12,500sq m for arrivals stores. The remaining space, 500sq m has been designated to ‘Information areas’.


The bazaar concept at the New Istanbul Airport

Investments amounting to more than €120m are projected at the new airport, which will open with a capacity of 90m passengers annually. Two expansions are set to follow, raising the annual passenger capacity to 150m as reported previously by TRBusiness.com. Forecasts predict 50m international air passengers for the first year of operation.


Heinemann holds 60.8% of the shares in Turkish company Unifree Dutyfree with the remainder in the hands of the Turkish partners of the Bilgener and Üstünkaya families. The contract, which will begin on the day of the airport’s opening – slated for 2018 – has already been signed in Istanbul.


Heinemann/Unifree Dutyfree is also a 50% joint venture owner of Turkish duty free and travel retailer, ATÜ [the remaining 50% belongs to Turkish airport operator TAV] which recently signed a 10-year contract to manage and run the DF&TR and food and beverage concessions at the New Salalah Airport in Oman.


Despite this, ATU Duty Free Managing Director, Ersan Arcan told TRBusiness in November last year, that 2014 was turning out to be a challenging year, saying, “we are still trying to gain back arrival sales as the Turkish lira is suffering against the Euro.”


Unifree now operates on all continents of the world; together with its subsidiaries, its local partner TAV in Istanbul Ataturk Airport , Mondial in Bodrum, ATM in Dalaman and Limak in Kosova, it operates 131 duty free stores, in 23 different airports, in more than eight countries, covering a total area of 28,000 sq m.


Heinemann SE & Co.KG, the majority shareholder of Unifree, one of the world’s largest duty free operators and suppliers, recorded a turnover of €2.4bn in 2014 and operates 230 duty free stores, in 67 airports, in 28 different countries, covering a total area of 77,000 sq m


Artist’s impression of the New Istanbul Airport

“Together with our Turkish partners, we are proud to take responsibility for the airside retail space and centre management at Istanbul New Airport,” says Claus Heinemann.


“At 53,000sq m this is a totally new dimension of retail space, and it will enable us to implement unique, pioneering concepts. In addition to several thousand sq m for luxury boutiques, which are partly sublet, our overriding aim is to cater to all the needs of a passenger at this important international airport in close cooperation with the operator iGA.”


Gebr Heinemann have been involved as retailer in the existing Istanbul Atatürk Airport since 1999. “We are looking forward to continuing our longstanding, successful international partnership with the companies TAV and ATÜ, which was only recently awarded the Duty Free tenders in Tunisia, on a long-term basis,” says Raoul Spanger, Executive Director Retail at Heinemann.


A consortium of ATÜ Duty Free, Gebr. Heinemann and Hamila Duty Free, won the tender to operate the duty free shops at Tunis, Carthage, Djerba, Zarzis, Sfax, Thyna, Tozeur, Nefta and Tabarka, Ain Draham, back in October last year.


L-R: Gunnar and Claus Heinemann

According to Unifree, the contract will allow the JV to build the ‘largest duty free shopping area in Turkey and the world’ at Istanbul’s New Airport – to be built in the Arnavutköy district of İstanbul. The 53,000sq m will showcase more than 400 domestic and foreign luxury brands under one roof with ‘an architectural design that preserves the fabric of Istanbul’.


During the signing ceremony, Nihat Özdemir, Board member of İGA and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Limak Holding, said: “We have an ambitious target; and that is to turn Istanbul and our country the centre of global aviation industry.


“İGA will not only be paying €26bn including VAT to the state, which is the highest amount for a bid in the history of our Republic, but also make additional investments and break new records, while contributing to Turkish economy significantly thanks to the commercial volume we will generate.


“The duty free contract signed with our reputable partner Unifree DutyFree is the concrete manifestation that we, as İGA, will not only limit ourselves with construction phase, but that we have already started working meticulously to offer the best service to all users once the airport is opened.”


Kerem Üstünkaya, Unifree DutyFree Shareholder and Deputy Chairman of the Board, spoke on behalf of Unifree DutyFree: “We will create a shopping environment that is far from the traditional and cliche form of duty free shopping, offering unforgettable and extraordinary experiences to the customers.


“During this process, when the world will be watching us with much curiosity and excitement, we will organize special events for Unifree in our shops by using our current relations and by following closely the future trends. This way, we will be able to provide our customers the opportunity to have access to all the luxury brands at the same location.


“Passengers will be able to try luxury products in ‘Private Rooms’, will have fun in the ‘Game Center’, and will have an opportunity to refresh themselves with the help of experts in Spa, hairdresser and beauty salon. They will also be able to watch new released movies at the ‘Movie Theater’.”


What will be the duty free shops at the New Istanbul Airport

Cüneyt Çilingiroğlu, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Unifree DutyFree, added: “This exciting development, which will be followed carefully both in Turkey and in the world, will add a brand new meaning to the shopping concept. Unifree DutyFree is ready to serve, to expand the borders of the shopping and retail worlds with its friendly and experienced employees at this location where ‘civilizations meet’. We are already proud to be hosting all nations the best way possible at Istanbul New Airport.”


“To ensure continuous success we set up a team called ‘Unifree Academy’. This academy, in order to meet passenger expectations, will make sure that all the employees are trained at the best possible way, that they relentlessly develop themselves and that they always stay inspired. Our trained and experienced sales staff is ready to serve the customers 24/7 endlessly and with a tailor-made approach. Unifree DutyFree, thus, will become one of the biggest player of the Turkish and global retail sector.”

 Unifree DutyFree says that for the ‘first time in the world’ it will equip the shops in Istanbul New Airport with the latest technologies in travel retailing.


Duty Free shops at the New Istanbul Airport

“The amazing and impressive future technologies will meet the passengers at the opening of the duty free shops in Istanbul New Airport,” says Unifree.

3D hologram systems, ‘smart shopping carts’ that have a charging function, mobile cash registers, electronic customer profiling and analysis systems are just some of the technologies that will be available at the stores.


“For example, with ‘Magic Mirror’ application customers will be able to see virtually how watches, sun glasses, accessories, clothes and make-up products will look on them without physically trying them on.


“Additionally, the electronic customer profiling and analysis technology will enable us to trace the customer’s shopping history and identify their possible future needs, and this way offering them personalized products and services. Private vehicles and one-to-one assistance by trained sales reps will be available for disabled customers also.”

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