April 3 2024  |  Retailers

Iraq Duty Free launches a new era with luxury-focused builds and renovations

By Hibah Noor

The newest downtown duty free store in Al Karh, Baghdad will feature a busy location with high street traffic

This year’s first quarter is a busy one for Iraq Duty Free, as the retailer is looking to open its second downtown duty free store in Al Karh, Baghdad, just as renovations are reaching completion at both the departure store at Babylon terminal (Green) and the arrivals shop of Samarra terminal (Blue). While the company has already expanded substantially, Iraq Duty Free is entering a new era of growth, driven by sales trends.

“We have witnessed a higher basket value and increase in sales per transaction as our consumers are buying more sophisticated and expensive products,” says an Iraq Duty Free spokesperson. This shift toward higher-end purchases has led to a deliberate change in the product layout and configuration of the stores, particularly at the Babylon terminal.

Iraq Duty Free is dedicating the entire front section of the floor to perfume & cosmetics, incorporating a niche perfumes section

Customers are changing to higher-end spenders who are seeking more exclusive products and luxury items, especially in the perfumes and liquor categories

Retail transformation

The renovation of the Babylon terminal is a testament to Iraq Duty Free’s commitment to enhancing the shopping experience. The company spokesperson details the store’s new features, stating, “We have now dedicated the entire front section of the store exclusively to perfumes and cosmetics, incorporating a niche perfumes section where we will be listing very high-end private-collection brands.” This decision aligns with the customer demand for more luxurious and exclusive products.

The completion of the Babylon departures shop is eagerly anticipated, with the company stating that it will be ready for travelers by the end of the month of Ramadan.

Following this, the focus will shift to Samarra arrivals, known as the Blue terminal, where plans include expanding the space by 20 square meters to accommodate an expanded product range.

This expansion strategy is part of a broader vision for Iraq Duty Free, as we highlighted in a recent update on the Baghdad Airport T3 upgrade. The retailer’s effort to modernize and enhance its retail spaces demonstrates a deep understanding of market dynamics and consumer preferences, ensuring that travelers’ experiences remain at the forefront of its operations.

Second downtown location

As Iraq Duty Free continues to evolve, its focus on data-driven decisions and the commitment to offering an elevated shopping experience reflect the company’s role in shaping the future of retail in the region; Iraq Duty Free is now poised to redefine the retail landscape in Baghdad, with a second downtown duty free shop targeting the vibrant district of Al Karh. This strategic move is part of a broader expansion plan that reflects the company’s agility in responding to the evolving demands of its clientele.

The spokesperson explains the geographic and demographic considerations that informed the company’s decision: “Baghdad city is marked by two main residential districts – mainly Al Rasafah, where the first downtown shop is located, and Al Karh, where we are looking for the second duty free shop location to give us coverage of all of Baghdad,” he says.

This ambitious project, which is set to kick off by the third quarter of 2024, will feature a location with a high volume of street traffic and good exposure, according to Iraq Duty Free.

Niche brands

Beyond expanding its geographical footprint, Iraq Duty Free is also focusing on enhancing the shopping experience through the introduction of exclusive product lines. “Our customers’ profiles are continuously changing to higher-end spenders who are seeking more exclusive products and luxury items, especially in the perfumes and liquor categories,” states the spokesperson. This shift has prompted negotiations with brands to list private collections and niche brands, creating an exclusive area for these products.

“We have listed Van Cleef and Arpels, and we’ve added a few niche brands in concert, such as: Maison Lancôme, Nishane, Boadicea, Argos Fragrances and Boss Collection. We are in discussion with Bulgari, Carolina Herrera and Dolce for their private collection,” he adds.

Iraq Duty Free’s design and offer will reflect Iraqi culture while catering to the modern consumer’s preferences. “We have created a new souvenir and Iraqi heritage corner that did not exist before as a separate section,” says the spokesperson, highlighting the incorporation of locally inspired elements into the new store designs.

New look, new experience

Despite challenges posed by the existing infrastructure, Iraq Duty Free is exploring technological innovations to enhance the shopping experience. “Owing to limited space due to the old design of the existing airport terminals, it is quite difficult to incorporate interactive displays, but we are working on developing mobile integration with an application we are currently working on,” says the spokesperson.

Sustainability is another key focus area for Iraq Duty Free; the company plans to eliminate single-use plastic bags in collaboration with brand partners, balancing environmental responsibility with marketing opportunities.

Iraq Duty Free expresses confidence that the new design and niche areas in the Babylon terminal will redefine the customer shopping experience. “I am quite confident that the new-look design of the Babylon terminal departures and the niche area will provide a new customer shopping experience for our travelers,” the spokesperson concludes.

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