Travellers in and out of Singapore who have been familiar with DFS for almost 40 years may not be ready for a sobering reality that hits today.
According to a Straits Times report, all DFS Group’s liquor and tobacco shops in Changi Airport will be closing in June 2020.
After its 38-year tenure, being the longest tenant at Changi, DFS has decided to let their lease expire instead of bidding for the next concession.
This will affect about 500 staff who work at the Changi DFS outlets.
In a media statement, DFS Group Chairman and CEO Ed Brennan cited “changing regulations concerning the sale of liquor and tobacco” in Singapore and “a global context of geopolitical uncertainty” as reasons for pulling out.
The Singapore Government has been placing tighter limits on duty-free alcohol allowances. Since April 2019, travellers who have spent at least 48 hours out of Singapore are entitled to purchase 2 litres of spirits, wine and beer, down from the previous 3 litres.
The Ministry of Health will also be enforcing stricter control over all tobacco products, which have to adhere to standardised packaging with enlarged graphic health warnings by July 2020.
Brennan added that their decision was “not taken lightly” as the business had “exceeded all expectations for what travel retail can offer in an airport environment” during its time with Changi.
DFS will continue to operate their luxury, cosmetic and perfume outlets in Changi Airport, while their T Galleria and Singapore Cruise Centre outlets will see no changes.
Shoppers need not be too disappointed though, Changi won’t let this stream of business run to the ground that easily—other players have tendered to fill the gap when DFS leaves.
Among the bidders are two of South Korea’s biggest duty-free stores, Hotel Lotte Co and Hotel Shilla Co.
A Changi Airport Group spokesperson said the company will “work closely with [DFS Group] to ensure a smooth transition to the new operator for the liquor and tobacco concession”.
Employees displaced by DFS’ departure from Changi will have options to continue working with the new operator, or to be deployed to DFS’ other stores around Singapore.
Despite the major closure of their Changi Airport outlets, DFS is continuing to expand through Asia, with two new stores to be opened in Macau and Hong Kong by the end of 2019.
They will also open their second European store in Paris next April, and has more airport projects to come in the future.
Featured Image Credit: Food on Fork