Middle East contributed greatly to Dufry’s increased post-pandemic sales 


Dufry’s increased sales last year were largely thanks to the Middle East market, the Swiss-based duty-free travel retailer said in its October report.  

The report pooled together analyses of Europe, the Middle East and Africa, placing these regions’ turnover as AED6.73 billion last year, a 50.56 per cent increase from AED4.47 billion in 2020.  

In the report, Julián Diáz, CEO of the Dufry group, said that thanks to the travel peaks in these regions, Dufry began seeing pre-pandemic levels of trading in the region, with stores operating at 89.1 per cent of the brand’s sales capacity. 

“The most significant uptake was reported across Europe, Middle East and Africa as vaccination campaigns have been progressing and authorities have started to focus on an alignment of travel protocols and the practicality of measures,” he said.  

The travel increase was attributed to these regions having a higher demand for leisure and more flexible travel programmes than others.   

At the Middle East and Africa Duty Free Association Conference held in November, Isabel Zarza, COO of Dufry’s Central and North Europe, Russia and Africa division, commented on Middle Eastern travellers’ airport activity, Travel Retail Business reported. 

“The spend per passenger is higher. It is true when passengers come back and when we have the same levels as 2019, spend per passenger will go back to normal but the passengers going through the airports are keen to buy,” she said.  

Having seen such signs of recovery in 2021, Dufry hopes that with travel rebounding from its slump during the pandemic, activity this year will climb further. 

“Emergence of the Omicron variant and related restricted measures re-imposed by selected governments caused some slowdown in January and February, but all regions have started to trend upwards already in line with the easing of restriction in many countries,” the group said. 

At full sales capacity, the duty-free retailer operates 2,300 stores worldwide at airports, cruise liners, seaports, railway stations and traditional tourist locations.