Travel Markets Insider Newsletter Vol. 16 No. 50

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The lead story in this week’s issue of TMI revolves around the World Duty Free Group. Even as rumors of a potential sale have dominated the media headlines around the world, the Group pushes ahead with business as usual. On Friday, WDFG announced that it has completed the acquisition of the remaining three concessions of 45 stores from HMSHost‘s travel retail division in North America. The stores, which are located in the Atlanta and Oakland airports and the Empire State Building in New York, are the final part of the demerger announced in 2012, in which HMS Host transferred the travel retail operations to WDFG.

In other parts of the world, the Group also recently announced the renewal of its contract at Kuwait International Airport, and opened new operations at Düsseldorf Airport. See page 1 for full story.

TECHNOLOGY. Miami International Airport has joined Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta as the first two airports in the U.S. to offer the first of its kind Mobile Passport app. The app was developed by Airside Mobile and Airports Council International-North America (ACI-NA) in partnership with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency, who plans to roll it out to 20 airports with the highest volumes of international travelers by the end of 2016. The app does not require pre-approval, is free to use and does not collect any new information on travelers. As a result, travelers will experience shorter wait times, less congestion and faster processing. Further details on page 1.

Technology also comes to the forefront at the 2015 Duty Free Show of the Americas next month. Show organizers IAADFS will debut a new mobile app to help attendees. The Association has also extended the online pre-registration deadline. Page 1.

PEOPLE. TMI is delighted to spotlight a very special member of the industry who will be retiring this month: the very popular Burt Stewart, a familiar face in the Canadian duty free channel and the very first person hired by the Patrón Spirits Company (before it was even known by that name) is stepping down. TMI‘s Michael Pasternak talks with Burt as he recalls some memorable moments from the past 20 years. Page 2.

Congratulations also go to Abdul Waked, president of Grupo Wisa and one of the travel retail industry’s pioneers in Latin America. Central American magazine El Economista has named Mr. Waked as Panama’s Businessman of the Year. The award, announced February 20 in the Jan/Feb issue of the magazine, cites Grupo Wisa’s retailing activities in 14 countries across Central and South America, and recognizes Mr. Waked’s development of the $350 million Soho Complex in downtown Panama City, whose 34,000sqm shopping mall is due to open this year. Page 3.

In the Spirit. Miami-Based spirits company WEBB will introduce its joint venture with Edrington at the IAADFS Duty Free Show next month, and unveil several new packaging and product innovations. SPI Group announces management changes. Van Gogh Imports becomes 375 Park Avenue Spirits. The DISCUS 2014 Market Report shows that the distilled spirits industry delivered steady growth in the U.S. in 2014, as American whiskeys continue to soar. Pages 3 & 4.

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