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Mauritius duty free firm eyes Kenya entry in regional expansion bid

JKIA duty free
A duty free shop at the International departures area of Terminal 1A at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

A Mauritius-based duty free company has announced plans to venture into the Kenyan market as it seeks to tap the country’s fast growing air travel market.

Mauritius Duty Free Paradise chief executive Anoop Nilamber said the planned entry, through a yet to be revealed local partner, in the next three years will help it serve as a base for expanding into East Africa.

“The medium to long-term plan is to enter the East African duty free market with potential partners. Our objective is to become a regional player,” Mr Nilamber was quoted as saying in an interview Monday with local Mauritian media. “We’re very close to Africa and we are part of the African continent. Given our proximity, we need to go outside of Mauritius to find new opportunities — in Kenya, Zambia, Rwanda, Madagascar.”

Mauritius Duty Free Paradise currently operates at both Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport in Mauritius and Sir Gaëtan Duval Airport in the neighbouring island of Rodrigues.

In 2017, the firm says, it generated a turnover of Sh6.8 billion.

The company, in 2015, severed ties with Swiss duty free firm Dufry International which had earlier bagged a lucrative tender to exclusively build and operate shops at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA).

Dufry was kicked out of Mauritius on allegations of bribery while sealing a deal similar to the JKIA one in the Indian Ocean nation. Duty-free retailers have bulked up their footprints around the world as moneyed travelers splurge millions on products such as designer shirts, watches and cosmetics.

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