DFA eyes double-digit lift in 2021 despite challenges

By Luke Barras-hill |

Duty Free Americas (DFA) is seizing new opportunities in the pandemic recovery phase as it forecasts a double-digit uptick in trading in full-year 2021.

In an exclusive video interview for the TRBusiness Top 10 International Operators report, available soon, DFA President Leon Falic told TRBusiness Editorial Director Charlotte Turner that despite the turbulence of 2020, ‘improvements in a lot of areas’ are now being witnessed.

“Obviously in 2021 we have experienced some very tough times that we’ve had to manage and navigate, but there are some opportunities we have seized and they appear to be working out for us,” he said. “There are new things catching our attention and that’s what we are focusing on.”

As part of a wide-ranging discussion, Falic identifies the key role played by the land border business in softening the blow to business inflicted by Covid-19.


DFA runs a number of shops on the US/Mexican border and elsewhere across Latin America.

“We’re still very much an airport player, but the border business has shown tremendous resilience for us and it really carried us through this whole situation,” he continued.

“It’s fair to say we still have strong performing airports in our network too – that have not only seen their sales [overall] increase, but also spend per passenger – but some other airports have obviously been very negatively affected, so it’s been a mixed bag.

DFA President Leon Falic says there are strong performing airports across DFA’s network that have enjoyed elevated spend per passenger and overall sales, but other airports have been very negatively affected.

“What we are seeing is that there are certain brands that are very dominant today that have grown in prominence due to a new type of consumer, consumer spend and traveller.”

TRBusiness learns that DFA’s challenges aren’t isolated to the slowdown in passenger traffic.

Logistical headaches across the supply chain – affecting many travel retail stakeholders – are becoming very complicated to manage, leading to delays in product shipments and elevated costs.

“We’re having to buy more inventory,” explained Falic. “The last thing we want is to have our shelves empty when passengers do come back, however we are cautious about this in terms of when and where the passengers will be flying.”

For an appraisal of DFA’s business in 2020 and to watch the full interview with Leon Falic, watch out for the TRBusiness October e-zines.


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