Wheeling your luggage into a Duty Free Singapore boutique after a flight is a pilgrimage familiar to anyone who has arrived at Changi Airport. But come June 2020, that familiarity is about to be undone as the DFS Group announces the impending closure of all its airport outlets retailing tobacco and liquor. The decision to not renew its lease was compounded by the fact that the DFS Group chose not to bid to renew its liquor and tobacco licenses, citing the changing landscape of regulations as the key reason.

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Duty Free Singapore has a strong presence in the wine and spirits sector thanks to its numerous travel retail exclusive collaborations (Photo credit: DFS Group)

Ed Brennan, the DFS Group Chairman and CEO, gave his reasons in a press statement as follows: “Our decision not to bid was based on our unique understanding of the business environment as the current operator of this concession at Changi. Specifically, changing regulations concerning the sale of liquor and tobacco, against a global context of geopolitical uncertainty, meant that staying in Changi was not a financially viable option.”

All duty-free operations of the two categories will be adopted by a new retailer, with South Korea’s Shilla and Lotte, as well as Germany’s Gebr Heinemann all in the running for the takeover of Duty Free Singapore’s 18 stores throughout the airport terminals.

“Changing regulations concerning the sale of liquor and tobacco, against a global context of geopolitical uncertainty, meant that staying in Changi was not a financially viable option.”
Ed Brennan, Chairman and CEO of DFS Group

Duty Free Singapore has cultivated a reputation beyond being a tax-free haven for booze, tobacco products and cosmetics. Throughout its tenure in Singapore, the group has grown into a luxury retail force, amplifying its appeal by working with brands to release Changi Airport-exclusive products that double as collectables. This is especially prevalent in the wine and spirits sector, with big names like The Glenlivet, Sipsmith, Penfolds, Balvenie and more collaborating with the group to launch said limited-edition releases.

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Raffles Hotel’s collaboration with London’s Sipsmith is one of the many travel retail-only offerings to be stocked in Duty Free Singapore. (Photo credit: DFS Singapore)

Though this baton may be carried by the next conglomerate to take over the existing boutiques, the closure of Duty Free Singapore’s airport boutiques does offer an added incentive for you to get your hands on these exclusives before the handover.

The DFS Group will still maintain a presence in Singapore outside of its Changi territory, with business as normal at T Galleria in Orchard and the outlets in the cruise centres across the island.

Beatrice Bowers
Features Editor
Beatrice Bowers writes about beauty, drinks, and other nice things. When not bound to her keyboard, she moonlights as a Niffler for novels and can be found en route to bankruptcy at your nearest bookstore. Don't tell her boss.