Dufry Trinidad Ltd general manager Richard Dowridge said with the opening of the company’s fifth store at the Piarco International Airport, Trinidad is moving closer to having the competitive edge over airports in other Caribbean islands. The new duty-free store, Timebox Suncatcher, will feature sunglasses, watches, and jewellery.
He said Dufry is an international company with over 3,000 stores worldwide, and their customers are frequent travellers.
“We are in 68 countries around the world, and our customers travel the world. They always ask, how come Trinidad doesn’t carry luxury items like jewellery and watches. It came about with customers asking those questions all the time for those items, we decided to open up that store. It’s something new not only to Trinidad, but to the Caribbean," he said on Tuesday.
Dowridge said when the airport reopened in July, business was initially slow but began to pick up in December. He said the company did not close its doors even when the airport was closed owing to the covid19 restrictions that led to the closure of international borders in TT, two years ago.
“The airport is at about 61 to 62 per cent capacity of people flying back in Trinidad. We’re not at 100 per cent of what it was in 2019. I want to say that Dufry did not close its doors during the pandemic, we kept running although we weren’t working, we had workers merchandising, packing, some days we just had people dusting shelves, no passengers, but we were there, just to have our staff. We never said we would terminate or get rid of them. Some of our staff have been with us since we opened in 2001, 21 years ago.”
Dowridge, who joined the company eight months ago, said he wanted to open up more stores in the airport with fashion, ladies’ accessories, handbags, and luggage, as Dufry has stores carrying these items in other locations around the world.
“We pride ourselves on exceptional customer service, we want to maintain our standards not only in Trinidad but worldwide, as we extend the same service at every store in every location. Part of this is our loyalty programme, Red by Dufry, and we now have five million members globally.”
Dufry has two stores on the main level and three on the upper level. Three of the stores offer confectionery, beauty products, liquor and tobacco, the fourth is a beauty store offering skincare and fragrances, and the new Timebox Suncatcher store. Dowridge said both arriving and departing passengers would be able to access the duty-free stores.
The new store carries the watch brands Anne Klein, Sekonda, Tommy, Michael Kors, Fossil, Casio, Diesel, Guess, MVMT, and Sundry; sunglasses in brands such as Prada, Gucci, Michael Kors, Guess, Ralph, Fossil, Tommy, Carrera, Maui Jim, Oakley, Ray Ban, Havianas, Ax, and Polaroid. The jewellery collections in the store include Buckley and Swarovski.
Marketing manager Stephanie Guevara said the store had been set up in line with covid19 protocols so that people could feel safe while shopping.
“We set up signage with our health and safety protocol, we made sure our sanitisation stations were prominent, if we have a long line we guide people in terms of where to stand to go to the register. The store is very spacious with lots of spaces between displays, and we don’t have more than four or five people in the store at a time. We sanitise the sunglasses and the jewellery after they are tried on, and we ask customers to alert our sales people when they have tried on pieces.”
Guevara said Dufry has a “satisfaction guaranteed” initiative where customers who are dissatisfied with their product or service can contact them within 60 days after a purchase is made and the company will offer them a replacement, a refund, or an exchange.