Gebr. Heinemann is a well-known name in the travel retail marketplace. Hailing from Germany and operating since 1879, the brand has expanded exponentially throughout its existence to have presence in 78 airports around the world. In addition, it has wholesale clients in more than 100 countries, offering a large range of product categories including perfume, cosmetics, liquor, wine, tobacco, confectionery, and delicacies.

Fifth-generation Max Heinemann is the CEO of Heinemann Asia Pacific. The Singapore-based subsidiary has grown considerably and passed a significant number of milestones in the recent few years—the latest being winning the Sydney Airport tender in September 2014. It has a footprint in 13 countries across the APAC region and has achieved great success thanks to its flexible and highly innovative approach to the industry. Max says that his internal staff base has managed to swell to approximately 70 people in a short five-year period thanks to the ample opportunities available in the geographical area.

In February this year, Gebr. Heinemann rolled out the Heinemann Duty Free shop at Sydney Airport—a new retail experience for international passengers. Over an 11-month period, a complete refit is being undertaken so as to minimise disruption and customer flow, meaning that key components can still operate effectively prior to 100-per-cent completion. The renovation is being conducted by Gebr. Heinemann’s in-house design team in collaboration with Australian architectural firms Geyer and Lava, and is inspired by Sydney’s picturesque harbours, sandy beaches, and laid-back sophistication.

Gebr. Heinemann will transform the existing airport shopping space by injecting exceptional levels of service as well as a vast offering of exclusive brands at attractive prices. Three stores in departures and two in arrivals are expected to be finished by January 2016, while a sixth shop in arrivals will be done midway through 2016.

“When it comes to Sydney, I think that has been pretty much the greatest success of our very short history here in the APAC region,” Max says. “We first moved into the airport in 2013 with two concept stores. While we wanted to show commitment to the airport as one thing, we also wanted to get to know the airport quickly and get access to the right know-how on specific categories—liquor, wine, confectionary, food products, and so on. Because of Australia’s very tight airport regulations, we needed to get as much experience as possible on a considerably small investment for the big business that we intended to pitch for a year later. We succeeded.

“If we do something, we really want to do it right. In 2013, we invested quite a bit into those two concept stores, and at the end we were very proud of what came out of it.”