Qatar Duty Free (QDF) has left nothing to chance in providing a first-class shopping experience to travellers at the newly expanded Hamad International Airport (HIA), the travel retailer has told TRBusiness.
Thabet Musleh, Vice President Operations at QDF, spoke to this publication in an exclusive video interview for the TRBusiness November/December issue, which is also available in print at the upcoming MEADFA Conference (27-29 November).
Football fans travelling for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 (20 November – 18 December) and global passengers alike can experience 16,000sq m of contemporary retail and F&B space at the ‘Orchard’.
As reported, more than 40 new retail stores bolster what is in excess of 65 retail and F&B outlets over three levels, with several global ‘firsts’ such as a Fendi boutique featuring the first Fendi Café in an airport, the first Dior boutique at HIA, the only FIFA airport shop in world and the largest Ray-Ban store at an airport.
‘Minor’ additions to follow
“The feedback that we’ve got, from customers to business partners, has been phenomenal,” said Musleh. “It’s trending very high on social media, and it’s fantastic to come and see. Passengers are really enjoying it for what it is – a tranquil and calm area.
“It’s every important that we cater to every one of our passengers and we have not neglected anyone; no matter what you want, we want to provide it to you with a great experience.”
Situated within the Central Concourse, the Orchard features an impressive 6,000sq m indoor tropical garden and a 575sq m water feature housed under an 85-metre grid shell roof.
These feed into an extension of the main terminal spanning 125,000sq m, with further renovations across the existing terminal over 14,000sq m.
“We’ve got people jumping on a flight with zero notice to transit through the airport just to see it,” enthused Musleh. “My team are going to have a challenging year next year, because every brand will want to do something with us in the garden.”
Phase B of the terminal expansion, the plans of which emerged several years ago, commences in 2023 when passenger capacity is expected to lift to in excess of 70 million passengers per annum – up from 58 million.
“There will be additional retail and F&B, but it will be minor additions, nothing major – the majority of what we wanted to achieve we have now done,” he explained.
Having surpassed 2019 performance levels prior to the FIFA World Cup kicking off, Qatar Duty Free is now eyeing a return to the type of double-digit growth levels that it enjoyed pre-Covid.
“That’s the vision and where we are planning to be,” added Musleh. “Next year we will be looking heavily into different areas where we need to finesse and grow and omni-channel is one of them.”
The update on QDF comes as travel retail stakeholders descend on the Kingdom of Bahrain to discuss the mechanics of the regional industry at the MEADFA Conference, which will take place at the Art Hotel & Resort.
QDF, one of the region’s biggest travel retailers, is not currently a member of the association. TRBusiness has approached MEADFA for comment.
Watch out for the full interview with Tab Musleh, Vice President Operations, Qatar Duty Free in the TRBusiness November/December edition, available soon…