Tocumen tender announced

Tocumen SA, the airport management company at Panama’s leading international gateway is set to confirm details of the duty free tender for the airport’s North Terminal. After 2 years of planning with London based Pragma Consulting, Carlos Duboy, the recently appointed airport general manager has published the initial tender details and is expected early next week to confirm final details and the number of duty free concessionaires the airport are looking for .

The current duty free contract is shared by Motta Internacional and Grupo Wisa and runs until 31st December this year. Ten years ago, Grupo Wisa paid $116m to manage the two blocks of 500sqm of retail space in the current terminal. At the same time Motta bid just under $58m to manage the remaining 500sqm block. Both companies were accused of overpaying to win the bid but both are likely to compete again in the new tender.

Duboy told the local press, “We are still evaluating whether we are looking for two or three concessionaires.” This is expected to be clarified within the next few days. A meeting has been programed for interested parties for5th June with bids to be submitted by 30th June. However it is possible that both dates will be put back at the request of bidders.

Both Motta and Wisa have declared an interest in continuing as concession holders. The position of Grupo Wisa is interesting – sales in their stores have fallen by at least 40% since the company was placed on the Clinton list by the US authorities. It is unclear whether the company has the financial flexibility to make a serious bid or whether it is able to offer the assortment of brands that that the traveler at Panama requires. Tocumen airport has said unofficially that the company can compete as long as it meets all the conditions as laid out in the recently published tender.

Local sources have indicated to that Pragma has recommended that the airport carries out separate tenders for Terminal 1 and Terminal 2, the new South Terminal which is due for completion in early 2018. In addition, the consultant has recommended that the airport authority seek less “upfront” money in exchange for a higher percentage rental based on actual sales. A minimum annual guarantee is likely to be included for the first time at the airport.

Given the strategic importance of Panama, the tender is likely to attract the attention of leading travel retail operators in the region. In addition to Motta and Wisa, Dufry, DFASS, DFS, Heinemann and Lagardere are said to be studying the tender documents.