DFS Group and Changi Airport end 40-year liquor and tobacco relationship

DFS Group will be ending its 40-year liquor and tobacco partnership with Changi Airport Group (CAG). DFS Group has been serving liquor and tobacco products for travellers to and from Singapore since 1980 and its duty-free stores within the Changi Airport premise will close in June 2020 as the lease expires.

In a statement to Marketing, Ed Brennan, DFS Group chairman and chief executive officer clarified that DFS declined to retain the liquor and tobacco concession operations at Changi Airport. According to Brennan, changing regulations concerning the sale of liquor and tobacco against a global context of geopolitical uncertainty is not a financially viable option for DFS to keep its operations in Changi Airport.

Brennan said the decision was not taken lightly, given that DFS has held the concession at Changi Airport since 1980. “We are proud of our achievements and deeply appreciative of the efforts of many talented people who have contributed to our success. We sincerely thank the Changi Airport Group for its past support, and extend our best wishes as it takes the liquor and tobacco concession operations forward in partnership with a new operator,” he added.

DFS’ luxury concessions at Changi, downtown operations at T Galleria by DFS Singapore, and its Singapore Cruise Center business will operate as usual and are unaffected by the withdrawal from the liquor and tobacco concession in Changi.

A DFS spokesperson also clarified to Marketing that around 500 staff are directly employed to service DFS’ liquor and tobacco concession operations at Changi Airport. While ensure a smooth handover to the new operator, there will options available for the staff at DFS. These include working with the new operator depending on aspirations and needs, and working with other operators in the airport community.

The spokesperson added that deployment opportunities at DFS’ luxury concessions at Changi, downtown operations at T Galleria by DFS Singapore, and business at the Singapore Cruise Center will be offered to staff.

CAG’s tender for its duty-free liquor and tobacco concession was launched on 4 June 2019 and closed yesterday. Although DFS did not participate in the tender, CAG’s Ivan Tan, group senior vice president, corporate & marketing communications said to Marketing that DFS is a valued partner whom CAG has worked with at Changi Airport for the past 38 years.

“We are disappointed that they have opted not to participate but we will work closely with them to ensure a smooth transition to the new operator for the liquor and tobacco concession. We will also continue to work closely with them to grow their other concession businesses in Changi Airport,” he added.

The Singapore government has recently been increasing its efforts in reducing and controlling the sale and consumption of liquor and tobacco.

Recently, the Ministry of Health (MOH) placed a ban on tobacco advertising and point-of-sale display in stores. The MOH also implemented the decision to standardise packaging and enlarged graphic health warnings on tobacco products sold here in Singapore. Some of its other tobacco control measures include education, taxation, smoking cessation programmes and the institution of a minimum legal age for tobacco, to further reduce the prevalence of smoking in Singapore, and meet the government’s obligations under the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Meanwhile, the sale and consumption of liquor has also been limited as convenience stores face a cut-off at 10.30pm. Consumers however, flock the bars and nightclubs in Singapore for options.

(Photo courtesy: Changi Airport Facebook page)