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World Duty Free Group wins Helsinki contract

World Duty Free Group (WDFG) has won the tender to trade at Helsinki airport from March 2014, airport operator Finavia has revealed.

As part of the deal, WDFG has committed to making substantial investments at the airport in the shops it operates and in their future development.

The tender covers 2,500sq m or retail space across four duty-free and duty-paid stores, including two walkthroughs outlets in which WDFG will offer the core categories of beauty, liquor, tobacco and confectionery. WDFG will also operate seven specialty boutique stores covering around 600sq m, focused on specific product categories that will serve the company to expand its luxury category offering, the travel retailer said in a statement.

The first newly-renovated shops will open in 2015. From then on, Finavia will no longer have shop operations of its own at Helsinki Airport.

It is hoped the introduction of a leading international operator will help strengthen the airport’s hub position, especially for flights to Asia.

WDFG CEO José María Palencia Saucedo said: “During the next 20 years, half of the growth of the world air traffic will come to or from the Asia/Pacific region. We are delighted to have won this opportunity to operate at Helsinki airport. It´s unique geographical location – the shortest route between Europe and Asia – makes Helsinki Airport the main European gateway to Asia with over 1.8M of passengerS on Asian flights in 2012. We know we can create a first world-class airport shopping environment here and we look forward to working closely with our partners at Finavia to take travel-retail to the next level for its passengers.”

The company will now establish a Finnish subsidiary. About 50 Finavia employees will transfer to it as existing employees.

Finavia director Anne Gullstén said the planned retail investments would create jobs and improve the customer experience.

“Air passengers expect experiences and good shopping opportunities. With the external partner, the goal is to seek better service, new brands and an appealing product range. We will also introduce other special shops in cooperation with the new operator,” she said.

Finavia CEO Kari Savolainen added: “Finavia’s strategic focal point in securing the competitiveness of Helsinki airport is strong focus on customer orientation, from the perspective of airline customers and passengers alike. Leveraging on World Duty Free Group´s knowledge of the passenger and innovative approach to travel-retail, we will be able to build at the Helsinki airport an attractive offering of internationally high standard that will result in an enhanced positive experience for passengers travelling to or transiting through the Helsinki airport.”