Major ‘LUXE’ downtown Philippines store on target

LUXE DUTY FREE Philippines

New LUXE store near ManilaDuty Free Philippines (DFP) and Landmark Management Services (LMS) report that they are making good progress towards opening the Philippine’s first major 4,500sq m dedicated luxury downtown duty free store close to Manila in April May 2017.

As first reported when the design contract went out last year, the new ‘galleria-style’ joint venture LUXE DUTY FREE store’ will target both affluent returning Filipinos and local and international travellers looking for high-end fashion, cosmetics and fragrances, as well as additional premium liquor and confectionery brand offerings.

The brand new outlet will also be conveniently located in the entertainment and casino area of Bay City, around 4.7km west of the country’s central business district and just 5km from Manila Airport, according to N. (‘Chim’) Esteban.

The former first General Manager of Duty Free Philippines who now holds the Manila Airport fashion and beauty concessions in The Philippines, in partnership with state-owned Duty Free Philippines.

Jose Maria ('Chim') Esteban and Duty Free Philippines' COO, 'Lorenzo Enchong Formosa

(LtoR): Regent Asia Chairman and Managing Director Jose Maria Esteban III and Duty Free Philippines’ COO Lorenzo ‘Enchong’ Formoso, pictured together at last month’s Tax Free Asia Pacific show in Singapore.

[Esteban was granted the fashion and luxury goods concession by DFP in June 1999 and the fragrance and cosmetics business in 2004 through his Regent Asia Group Ltd, while the fashion agreement was recently extended until 2023-Ed].

Talking about the project exclusively to TRBusiness recently, Esteban said the concept is essentially aimed at addressing the increasingly affluent and aspirational market in The Philippines, while also preparing the ground for what he believes will ultimately be a stronger movement of Koreans, PRC and other visitor nationalities visiting the country.

LUXE DUTY FREE Philippines

Koreans are already important retail customers in The Philippines.

“Plus we are putting it into a location which is right in the core of the tourist district and within the casino and entertainment area where the four new casinos are coming up,” he said, adding that this will position the store for both today and tomorrow’s FIT and conducted tour business profiles.

He says the immediate target market on opening will be around 40% to 50% returning Filipino travellers, with the balance comprising overseas foreign visitors and primarily PRC and Korean customers.

He said: “We are expecting about 20% of our total mix to be conducted and about 30% to 40% to be FIT, because again, this area is where all of the conducted tour traffic is. So even though conducted isn’t a very big part of the Philippine tourism scene yet, this is where all the conducted guys will be.”

LUXE DF interior 4

This will represent the very first downtown duty free store in The Philippines dedicated to luxury brands, says Esteban.


What could be a huge game changer is if The Philippines and Chinese governments resolve their political differences over claims to island/land territories in the South China Sea, however.

Esteban acknowledges that The Philippines, with its natural beauty, is already popular with PRC visitors.

“Hopefully this will all be resolved amicably and peacefully in the next months to couple of years and if that happens we are a natural destination for PRC. We are a destination already. There’s a lot of Chinese going direct to beaches, but you know when it opens up more when relations are normalised then I think it will be a natural.

“Of course, we have a good core Korean base and they are a very loyal because they have built communities and businesses in The Philippines and this is a big destination for them. Plus, of course, we have our core Filipino business base, which really makes us unique to a certain extent. That also really gives us a good basis for investing, whatever ups and downs there are in the world with international tourism.”

LUXE Duty Free interior 2

Beauty will be a very important customer draw at the new luxury downtown store.


Key to all of this are the modern new freeway access roads being built linking Manila Airport to downtown, as he explained: “This will make transit to our new location extremely easy with wonderful parking. For us, this is also a development of a product, which addresses the needs of the luxury brand market. Our market has always been aspirational to a certain extent.

“We’ve had luxury in the past and we have done very well with our Philippine market, but today with the changes in the environment required by the brands, we have had to really develop something with which they will feel comfortable with.

LUXE Duty Free interior 3

Balenciaga, Valentino, Tod’s, Montblanc and other brands are being targeted and Esteban says he is also hoping to attract other premium offerings from brands such as Kate Spade, Michael Kors and Longchamp.


“It is not a new concept, as it is like any other downtown duty free galleria in Asia – but finally The Philippines will have one.

It is primarily dedicated to beauty and fashion, but it will also have a small liquor area. Unlike our old Fiesta Mall where we have everything for everyone, this is really focused on the traditional luxury duty free categories.”

Esteban says the new store will be housed in a free standing existing building which is currently being renovated: “This will be turned over to us for fit out by November and we are opening it for the fall winter collection of 2017, which means around April or May of 2017.”

Interestingly, the top 10 foreign visitor source markets to the Philippines are currently as follows: Korea; US; Japan; China; Australia; Singapore; Taiwan; Canada; Malaysia; and the UK.

LUXE interior Philippines