Big new US player for San Ysidro?

By Doug Newhouse |

Duty Free City is planning to open a 14,000sq ft border store in San Ysidro this year and 24 other stores in the US.

The new retailer, which was formed last year, is planning to make its San Ysidro debut at the same time that the GSA is completing its $732m border modernisation project at San Ysidro, which is due to be totally finished in 2016. Duty Free City management says that its planned 25 other locations in the US include border locations with Canada and Mexico.

Such an expansion would obviously put it on a direct collision course with the dominant Southern Border-based UETA chain and its sister border business on the US/Canadian Northern Border – both owned by Duty Free Americas.   

Duty Free City says it is selecting ‘key cities with high cross border traffic and key demographic population pockets with high disposable income’.



A rendering of how the interior of the new store might look.


The aspiring new retailer says it will offer luxury accessories and beauty products, fragrances, leathergoods, confectionery, wine and spirits, and tobacco.

In a statement, the retailer said: “Duty Free City’s concept is created by an executive team committed to elevating the quality and experience of duty free shopping while introducing contemporary and luxurious retail practices to the duty free industry. Duty Free City’s flagship location will be positioned conveniently near the most trafficked border in the world, the San Ysidro border.

“Nearly 110 million people cross the San Ysidro border every year, spending approximately $5 million dollars daily while shopping at retail locations. Attracting both savvy and trend-setting consumers from cross-border traffic, Duty Free City opens just before the much-anticipated US-Mexico border expansion project, estimated to be completed in 2016.



The proposed beauty section ‘look’ in the new store layout.



“Duty Free City provides guests with state-of-the-art product presentation surrounded by a sophisticated interior design inspired by Spanish Colonial architecture. Premier customer service will include valet, beauty services, a dedicated kid’s area, and personal educated shoppers who will serve as in-house experts.”

The company adds that it will be working with impressive brands and it purposefully mentions the Estée Lauder Group in particular, which does not supply Duty Free Americas. The retailer adds that its Duty Free City San Diego opening has been scheduled for the spring of this year at 601 East San Ysidro Boulevard, San Diego, Calif. 92173.



A view of the Western Hemisphere’s busiest border crossing at San Ysidro – as seen from the air last November.


THE DUTY FREE CITY EXECUTIVE TEAM COMPRISES THE FOLLOWING: Alejandra Rudner, Director of Marketing [most recently employed as the marketing manager at Aventura Mall in Miami, Florida]; Lior Attias, CFO [raised in Marseilles, France, Lior graduated with degrees in accounting and finance, and a master’s degree in finance]; Sonia Acevedo, Director of Merchandising and Procurement [with extensive experience in the duty free industry as a demand planner]; Roel Elizalde, Purchasing Director of Selected Brands [over 33 years in the duty free industry, having worked previously in licensing and logistics]; Bob Cranston, Beer and Spirits Consultant [previously a wine authority on radio and F&B Director at the Ritz-Carlton]; Martha Rosas, Consultant [with more than 25 years in the duty free industry, having worked for Cartier, Luxottica, Duty Free Americas, The Nuance Group and other duty free operators].

[TOP IMAGE: An artist’s impression of how the new Duty Free City store might look].

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