Abu Dhabi Midfield Terminal Duty-Free - The challenge is set

Gary Scattergood


The world's top retailers have received the request for proposals (RFP) for Abu Dhabi airport's Midfield Terminal duty-free concession

One of the most eagerly anticipated duty-free request for proposals (RFPs) has been issued— the 7,500sq m space at Abu Dhabi's new Midfield Terminal, which is due to open in 2017.

The airport's commercial team, headed by chief commercial officer Mohammed Al Bulooki and vice-president commercial Gavin McKechnie, had already made it clear they are looking for "spectacular, sensational and exceptional" bids as they pledged to redefine the operator/retailer relationship.

Interested parties, have received a mandatory detailed presentation on the scope and specifications of the duty-free area and the different retail packages that will be available. They also received an explanation of the scoring criteria that will be applied in the tender process and its timetable. A similar process for the food & beverage concessions will commence shortly.

A new technology-led interactive tendering process is being adopted and the tenders are being issued in a completely new format. In order to elicit the highest quality responses possible, the tender pack has been designed to be as spectacular as the terminal itself and matches its scale and ambition.

The tender details and the ambition behind them have been presented in a full-colour, 100-page glossy book, encased in a bespoke box. A drawer below then houses a pre-loaded iPad, complete with a state-of-the-art augmented reality feature. The recipient places the iPad over a drawing of the new terminal, which is then visible in 3-D on the iPad. Bidders are able to highlight individual store locations across the two levels, and zoom in to see how they will fit in with the overall layout and passenger flow. Furthermore, the iPad is also pre-loaded with all the information, facts, figures and documents needed to make the bid.

In terms of the details for the bidders, the airport wants a sense of place to be created through the theme of local hospitality. When entering the terminal post-security, as either a passenger starting the journey (around 20% of travellers) or as a transit passenger (the remaining 80%) the first area they will enter is a unique hospitality zone, featuring a range of complimentary and paid for services. 

Passengers will then enter a central well for duty-free, which will pretty much be focused on beauty, fragrances and cosmetics. This will be flanked on either side by two liquor and tobacco stores. However because of the vast size of the terminal—these are likely to have duplicated offers.

There will also be a dedicated duty-free food offer at one side to meet the needs of the large numbers of migrant workers.

DFNIonline previously revealed the contracts for the terminal - which will solely be used by Etihad Airways—will be for 10 years.

At the other, far end of the terminal, there will be another two top-up duty free stores near piers two and three, as well as final, smaller offers, on the piers themselves. There are eleven duty-free stores in total, including one in a souk-style offer near the food and beverage offer on the mezzanine level, and a 1,000sq m store in the central area of the baggage reclaim area for arrivals.

After the main duty-free on the ground-level, there will be a vast array of speciality retail stores, to be tendered later this year.

This will feature two, prominent, double-storey icon stores which Gill said were "unprecedented" in terms of their presentation, and the frontage of which allows for extensive use of technology.

The theme of hospitality and generosity will be continued within these areas with palm trees and canopies used to create an oasis.

The theme for the retail offer is based on nine "jewel-like pearls", which the tender book says reflects the heritage of Abu Dhabi's precious past, combined with the best the modern world has to offer". They are hospitality, duty-free, luxury, food emporium, Arabian market, dining, downtown, travel essentials and services."

It is hoped that bidders will be inspired to submit proposals that will completely reinvent the duty-free experience and give passengers a non-traditional airport environment, delivering a range of multi-sensory experiences. In order to best achieve this, bidders will need to ensure the outlets which they propose to design and build reflect the generosity and style that are the true hallmarks of Arabian and Emirati hospitality.

Potential bidders now have until September 7 to consider the tender material and seek further clarifications. The submission date is set at October 1, with contracts expected to be awarded in December.

Abu Dhabi Airports chairman HE Ali Majed Mansoori said: “Abu Dhabi Airports is very excited to be issuing the RFP for the duty-free space in the Midfield Terminal. It is an excellent opportunity to show the world how serious Abu Dhabi Airports is about making the capital’s airport the best in the world and this is reflected in the RFP’s revolutionary design.

"This is not just another tender process, it is an integral part of a massively important infrastructure project. Abu Dhabi Airports is investing in a truly spectacular terminal and, with around 28,000sq m of commercial space available, bidders will be expected to match that investment with a commitment to help deliver sensational experiences for travellers. There has been a high level of interest from bidders and Abu Dhabi Airports is looking forward to forming exceptional partnerships with brands whose ideas and concepts match its own ambition and vision.”

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(1-Apr-2014) - Call for expressions of interest for the new Midfield Terminal concessions expected next week
(3-Mar-2014) - The world’s major retailers are competing to secure the “jewel in the crown” of aiport retail—the duty-free concession for Abu Dhabi’s Midfield Terminal.
(2-May-2014) - ABU DHABI. Duty-free packages in the new Abu Dhabi airport Midfield Terminal are to run for 10 years, as first reported on DFNIonline alongside other key details.
(13-Apr-2014) - Request for proposals (RFP) due to follow by the end of this month
(12-Sep-2013) - Abu Dhabi Duty Free (ADDF) reported sales revenues for the first half of 2013 up by 17.4% compared with the same period last year to Dh437.6m ($119.1m).