The Amazing Tale of Dubai’s Duty-Free Legend Colm McLoughlin

by Zaara 26, Feb 2020

Duty-free, the term which makes Dubai acclaimed across the globe as the city with the best duty-free products in its region. Dubai has one of the busiest air hubs markets and exhibits one of the most decorated and attractive ranges of duty-free products in the world. The Dubai Airport is itself an extended mall with the sales area spread over 26,000 sq. Meters across its terminals boasting a wide range of duty-free products. The products range consist of all kind of daily use products to luxury items. Electronics, clothing items, Cuban cigars, 22-karat gold items, luxury cars, and several other items can be seen at numerous duty-free shops in Dubai.

The major driving force behind the widespread and world-famous Dubai duty-free market is the legend who introduced and worked on this idea. Colm Mcloughlin, current Vice Chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty-Free, is the man who first came up with the idea of introducing duty-free business in Dubai. Mcloughlin used to work in retail management sector during his earlier working days in his home country Ireland, during his tenure, he applied for a job advertisement he saw and was offered the job instantly. On June 1, 2019, Colm McLoughlin completed 50 years in the duty-free industry in Dubai and intends to keep working for the sector, which now is worth $2 billion.

How the Dubai Duty-Free Industry bloomed under McLoughlin

Colm McLoughlin started his journey in the duty-free sector way back in 1969 when he was working with Woolworths in London. He saw an advertisement in the first-ever duty-free firm Shannon duty-free and applied for the same. McLoughlin was offered the job instantly, and he agreed to join the sector, which is now a global business worth an estimated $76 billion.

Colm primarily worked with Shannon duty-free for 14 years in Ireland, and then he was sanctioned to Dubai for setting up duty-free operations in the land of deserts. Colm joined the Dubai duty-free in 1983, he was on a six-month project in Dubai for Shannon duty-free. After he completed his tenure in Duba, the Irish man was asked if he would stay and oversee the duty-free operation in DDF.

Speaking about the growth in the duty-free industry, the Vice President and CEO of the company had very definite views. Colm McLaughlin was quoted praising the development in the industry and said,” In 1984, there were three million passengers through Dubai Airport. Last year, there were 89 million. In 1984, our business in Dubai Duty-Free was sales of $20 million while last year, it was over $2 billion.”

McLoughlin has been a working force behind the successful duty-free retail business in Dubai. Under his leadership, the Dubai duty-free industry has bloomed at a significant level and has become one of the largest single retail markets in the world.

Forthcoming Scope in duty-free Industry

The Dubai duty-free (DDT) industry has evergrowing business opportunities in the region. Many daily uses, exclusive, and luxurious products are being sold over the widespread business sector. The city welcomes numerous tourists throughout the year and makes an immense profit through this industry.

The Vice President and CEO of Dubai duty-free Colm McLoughlin himself are in no mood of thinking about retiring or walking away from the industry. When asked about his plans related to retirement, McLoughlin was quoted saying, “Retire? What’s that?”. He further added, “ I enjoy what I’m doing very much. I have no plan in my mind to immediately walk away or anything like that. I certainly have no intention in an individual capacity to leave or do something else.” 

Colm McLoughlin leads the Dubai duty-free industry with an example, under his supervision, the duty-free sector has become a retailing giant with a reputation for excellence throughout the retail industry. The Dubai duty-free currently accounts for around 6% of global airport retail sales and is the largest single airport retailer in the world. The duty-free industry in Dubai is not only influenced the multi-billion-dollar industry, but the industry has made Dubai as a premium sports and leisure destination by providing and hosting various high-profile sports and international events. The events include the Dubai duty-free Tennis championships, Dubai duty-free Irish open and many others, which contributes to making Dubai as a preferred destination for high-profile personalities across the world.

The industry, besides, runs and provides financial help to many local and international charities. The foundation has till now supported 40 domestic and 53 overseas charities including; the Hand in Hand for Haiti, The Moodie Report Great Travel Retail Educathlon, Smile Train and has constructed 32 houses in the Dubai Duty-Free GK village in the Philippines.  

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