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Sweet scent of success for Dubai Duty Free

Chinese travellers accounted for almost half of sales of Hermes goods and 60 per cent of Lancome and Estee Lauder skin care products in Dubai Duty Free in October.

Big-spending travellers from the Indian subcontinent and East Asia are fuelling a surge in sales at Dubai Duty Free.

The airport retailer rang up Dh4.71 billion (US$1.28bn) in sales this year up to the end of last month, representing an 11 per cent increase on the same period last year.

The figures put Dubai Duty Free on track to achieve sales of Dh6bn for the year.

Colm McLoughlin, the company's executive vice chairman, said 2012 was shaping up to be a "fantastic year".

Passengers from the subcontinent made up the largest group of spenders - although they do not spend more than the average - and account for almost a quarter of sales at 24 per cent. Confectionery was particularly popular with the group.

East Asian travellers, primarily Chinese, accounted for 19 per cent of total sales, making them the second-biggest spending group. Most purchases by Chinese travellers were made in cosmetics, skin care, watches and fashion. Last month alone, they accounted for 47 per cent of all Hermès sales and 60 per cent of sales of Estée Lauder and Lancôme skincare products.

"The Chinese have only started travelling extensively in recent years and they are definitely driving spend in the luxury good sector across the retail sector," said Mr McLoughlin. "They are very brand-conscious and brand-savvy at the same time. They are big spenders but they are also very cost conscious and will research prices before they buy."

European passengers were the third-largest group of spenders, accounting for 16.4 per cent of sales. Middle Eastern passengers were close behind with 16 per cent, followed by African-bound passengers with 12 per cent. Russian travellers accounted for 7 per cent of total purchases at Dubai Duty Free.

Sales of confectionery rose by 18 per cent to Dh377 million in the year up to the end of last month, while other significant increases were in electronics, watches and cosmetics.

Perfume was the top seller, representing 15 per cent of all Dubai Duty Free sales at Dh727m.

gduncan@thenational.ae

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