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Aldeasa awarded concession at Bolívar airport in Caracas
Impact International / October 15, 1996

By Larry Luxner

Spanish firm Aldeasa, which is already active in Peru and Chile, has won a five-year concession to operate three duty-free stores at Simón Bolívar International Airport in Caracas, Venezuela.

The 100-square-meter retail area is owned by Fundación del Niño, a non-profit children's charity, through an arrangement with the Venezuelan government dating back to 1974. But last year, the organization decided it wanted to farm out the operation, so it began looking for prospective joint-venture partners.

"One of our interests was for the stores to be open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year," said Carmen Cecilia de Maíz, the organization's treasurer. "Currently, duty-free operations are open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., and are closed on Christmas, New Year's Day and other national holidays." Once Aldeasa takes over, she said, "if the airport is open, the stores will be open."

De Maíz said Aldeasa outbid three other companies -- Brasif, Motta International and Winauer -- for the contract. Under the deal, Aldeasa will give Fundación del Niño a percentage of total sales, though that percentage is confidential.

"We want to have the best offer for our passengers, and we wanted special people with experience to operate the stores," she said, adding that DFI, DFS and Greyhound were also invited to bid, but that those companies were not among the finalists.

Last year, de Maíz told Impact International, the three Caracas airport stores took in revenues of nearly $9 million, with some 3.5 million passengers arriving or departing the airport. Approximately 75% of total sales come from liquor, another 20% from perfume and cosmetics, and the remaining 5% from gifts and consumer electronics.

The three stores consist of a general duty-free outlet stocking mainly liquor and cigars; a perfumería, and a boutique selling gift items.

"We're negotiating with local suppliers at the moment," said an Aldeasa representa-tive in Caracas. "Our objective is to work with all the important Venezuelan rum brands, which are very famous throughout the world."

De Maíz said the selection process was delegated to a five-member commission, made up of four representatives of the Venezuelan private sector and one foundation member. She estimated that Aldeasa will have to invest at least $4 million in remodeling and new merchandise.

Aldeasa itself declined to issue any official comment on the concession, except to say that "Aldeasa is a company owned by the Spanish government and its experience is guaranteed by our presence at 17 international airports in Spain, four in Portugal and the port of Tangier, Morocco."

The Madrid-based company also operates duty-free outlets in Lima and Santiago.

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