Canada’s Peace Bridge issues first tender in 30 years

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In an effort to “test the market” on the Canadian side of the northern border, the Buffalo and Fort Erie Public Bridge Authority last month issued a request for proposals (RFP) to operate a Canadian duty free store at Peace Bridge Duty Free, located at the Niagara River Crossing between Buffalo, New York and Fort Erie, Ontario. The existing lease expires on October 31, 2016.

This is the first ever tender for the Peace Bridge, which opened the duty free shop in 1986, and is the second busiest border crossing between Canada and the US with approximately 5.5 million vehicles crossing annually.

Ron Rienas, General Manager, Buffalo and Fort Erie Public Bridge Authority, told TMI that with the current lease expiring this year, “after 30 years the Peace Bridge Authority wanted to test the market.”

Rienas went on to say: “The current concessionaire can also bid for the concession rights. The Peace Bridge Authority, as a public authority, is seeking the best value proposal. All proposals must be able to obtain a license to operate a Duty Free from the Canada Border Services Agency.”

The Bridge Authority issued the RFP on March 1, with a submission deadline for interested parties on May 2, 2016. The authority anticipates it will make its choice by July 1, 2016 and expects that a lease will be executed between both parties by August 15, 2016.

The RFP is for minimum period of 15 years and includes one five year renewal option. The duty free operator will pay the Bridge an annual base rent of a fixed minimum annual of $2,500,000 and a percentage rent payment that is based on gross sales.

The current duty free shop building available for lease is a freestanding building with more than 28,000 square feet of retail space and with dedicated parking for 146 cars, 24 trucks and 10 buses.

The existing duty free shop also includes a currency exchange service, bank machine, McDonald’s restaurant and a Tim Hortons restaurant. The tender winner will have the opportunity to sublease space in the duty free shop to the existing subtenants and/or to other subtenants with product offerings that are complementary (such as banking, currency exchange, restaurants, commercial retail operations or services) to the duty free shop.

The successful proponent must obtain a license to operate a duty free shop from the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), which means the lessee has to be a Canadian citizen or corporation.

The Authority is scheduled to begin a construction project to rehabilitate the Peace Bridge beginning in October 2016, which will continue for three years. Replacement of the concrete bridge deck will be conducted during off-peak travel season (October 15 – May 1).

The RFP can be viewed on the Peace Bridge website at www.peacebridge.com.

The current Peace Bridge Duty Free was one of the first land border Duty Free shops in Ontario. It was opened in 1986 by George W. Slipp.

The Peace Bridge Duty Free is famous for its quality luxury brand names and excellent customer service and holds the record for selling more Crown Royal than any other retailer in the world. Peace Bridge Duty Free has won many prestigious awards within the Duty Free Industry for its efforts in Marketing and Sales and have been leaders in the industry for many new Duty Free initiatives.

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