May 21, 2024
Appointments Business

Colm Mcloughlin Retires From Dubai Duty Free

After 41 Years At The Helm

After a 55-year journey in the travel retail industry and an illustrious 41-year tenure at the helm of Dubai Duty Free, Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman & CEO, has announced his retirement, effective May 31, 2024.

McLoughlin, widely regarded as the driving force behind Dubai Duty Free’s ascension to become the largest duty-free operation globally, will transition to an advisory role post-retirement.

He will continue championing the organisation’s philanthropic efforts as the Dubai Duty Free Foundation Chairman and participating in sponsored sporting events.

Effective June 1, 2024, Ramesh Cidambi, the incumbent COO, will ascend to Managing Director, reporting directly to Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority and Chairman of Dubai Duty Free.

Salah Tahlak, Joint COO, will assume the position of Deputy Managing Director.

Vote Of Thanks

Reflecting on his retirement, McLoughlin thanked the Dubai Duty Free management and staff for their support throughout his tenure and pledged full support to his successor.

Colm
Dubai Duty Free earned AED7.4 billion ($2.16 billion) in 2023. Credit: Arnold Pinto

Acknowledging the significance of continuity in Dubai Duty Free’s success, McLoughlin expressed confidence in Cidambi and Tahlak, citing their longstanding contributions to the organisation. He envisioned a promising future for the company under their stewardship.

Cidambi, who joined Dubai Duty Free in 1987, expressed appreciation for the appointment and lauded McLoughlin’s mentorship. He has pledged to uphold the company’s legacy of excellence across retail and leisure divisions.

Similarly, Tahlak, a veteran of Dubai Duty Free since 1992, expressed gratitude for the new opportunity and credited McLoughlin for his guidance.

McLoughlin’s journey with Dubai Duty Free traces back to the company’s inception in 1983 when he played a pivotal role as a member of the original consultancy team from Aer Rianta.

Leadership Positions

Over the years, McLoughlin, 81, held various leadership positions at Dubai Duty Free before assuming the Executive Vice Chairman & CEO role.

Under his stewardship, Dubai Duty Free witnessed exponential growth, with revenue soaring from AED73.6 million ($20 million) in 1984 to AED7.4 billion ($2.16 billion) in 2023.

McLoughlin’s contributions have garnered widespread recognition, with over 780 awards for Dubai Duty Free, including 86 attributed directly to him. Notable accolades include the ‘Most Distinguished Employee Award’ and the ‘Irish Presidential Distinguished Service Award.’

Colm
Dubai Duty Free recorded over 20 million sales transactions throughout 2023. Credit: Arnold Pinto

In 2017, Middlesex University Dubai conferred an Honorary Doctorate upon McLoughlin.

Record Sales In 2023

In 2023, Dubai Duty Free recorded over 20 million sales transactions throughout the year, or an average of 55,000 sales transactions per day, while a staggering 55.2 million units of merchandise were sold.

The year’s top five selling categories were perfumes, liquor, gold, cigarettes and tobacco, and electronics.

  • With sales of AED1.366 billion ($374 million), perfume contributed 17% of total sales and retained its position as the top-selling category.
  • Liquor sales reached AED1.130 billion ($310 million), accounting for 14% of the total annual sales.
  • Gold recorded sales of AED773,506 million ($212 million) and contributed 10% towards total revenue.
  • Cigarettes and tobacco sales amounted to AEDS745,694 million ($204 million), accounting for 9.5% of total income.
  • Electronics sales peaked at AEDS628 million ($172 million), accounting for 8% of total annual sales.

    Online sales accounted for 2% of the overall sales tally in 2023, reaching AED164 million ($45 million).

    Departures sales reached AED7.062 billion ($1.93 billion), representing 90% of total annual sales, while Arrivals sales totalled AED612 million ($168 million), representing 8% of total yearly sales.

Featured image: (L-R) Salah Tahlak, Colm McLoughlin, and Ramesh Cidambi pose for a group photo ahead of McLoughlin’s retirement as executive vice chairman & CEO of Dubai Duty Free on May 31, 2024. Credit: Dubai Duty-Free

Last Updated on 1 week by Arnold Pinto

    Arnold Pinto

    Arnold Pinto

    Arnold Pinto is an award-winning journalist with wide-ranging Middle East and Asia experience in the tech, aerospace, defence, luxury watchmaking, business, automotive, and fashion verticals. He is passionate about conserving endangered native wildlife globally. Arnold enjoys 4x4 off-roading, camping and exploring global destinations off the beaten track.
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