7 March 2023

Passing through Sydney Airport? Stop by Heinemann Tax & Duty Free’s new Mega B duty-free store.

If over 200 high-end designer brands aren’t temptation enough, the outlet’s recent fitout might twist your arm. Since early 2020, TSA has worked closely with Heinemann Tax & Duty Free and Sydney Airport to navigate Covid and deliver an exceptional retail experience. Forming the heart of the new SYD X luxury precinct in International Terminal 1, Heinemann Tax & Duty Free’s 2,500 sqm Mega B retail space is crowned with a stunning halo light installation designed and manufactured right here in Australia.

This journey began with TSA’s first collaboration with Heinemann Tax & Duty Free in 2012. Our people project managed the retailer’s initial rollout of stores across the Sydney Airport terminals, which featured ‘store-in-a-store’ concepts and cutting-edge technology networks and wayfinding. Working within a high-security, operational environment, TSA helped create the largest duty-free store in the southern hemisphere at that time. We also formed an enduring partnership with Heinemann Tax & Duty Free.

In February 2020, Heinemann Tax & Duty Free again chose TSA to deliver its latest Sydney Airport projects. TSA’s project team lead and retail fitout specialist, Tony Wong, explained, ‘Heinemann had a great experience with TSA and all the original consultants – they wanted us back. And we were thrilled to work with them again.’

Our team initially delivered Heinemann Tax & Duty Free’s ‘Area G’ store, which is also part of the SYD X precinct and stocks products in the souvenirs, local food, toys, and health and wellbeing categories. And then Covid struck. Heinemann Tax & Duty Free was on the frontline of businesses besieged by the pandemic, with their cruise ship and airport outlets shutting down globally. Despite this, they maintained their contract with TSA and continued progressing the Mega B concept design throughout lockdowns. Eventually, despite waves of uncertainty, supply chain issues and logistical upheaval, the redevelopment of Heinemann Tax & Duty Free’s flagship Australian store began.

TSA’s role was to provide redevelopment and project management services. Tony clarified, ‘We represented Heinemann to Sydney Airport – we were the first point of contact surrounding the redevelopment. Our role centred on design, construction and contract management.’ Tony is proud of his team, which includes Senior Project Manager, Luis Santeliz and Project Manager, Rain Wong. Luis managed the project’s design, construction documentation, main contractor and final delivery, while Rain supported the management of the main contractor, authority approvals and tenancy coordination. Together, the team successfully mitigated the risks of Covid to deliver the high-end retail space.

Surrounded by individual high-end stores, Heinemann Tax & Duty Free’s Mega B takes centre stage in the airport’s SYD X luxury precinct. Positioned beneath a 10-metre-high glass ceiling (raised from 5 metres as part of the project), the Heinemann Tax & Duty Free outlet is without walls, allowing thousands of travellers to pass through its displays daily and adding to its expansive feel. Offering more than 200 exclusive brands of perfume and cosmetics, sunglasses, fashion, and watches, the store also features highly detailed joinery, sophisticated lighting design and opulent finishes.

The TSA project team’s critical challenge was ensuring Heinemann Tax & Duty Free could immediately resume uninterrupted trade following lockdowns and throughout the project. This was complicated by the retailer’s contractual obligations, which require every one of their 200+ designer brands on display and available to purchase at all times. As Tony put it, ‘It’s an all or nothing scenario – they either promote every label or close the registers’. TSA rose to the challenge, successfully liaising with Sydney Airport to continually shuffle temporary product displays in unleased areas. The team ultimately succeeded in their goal, with Tony crediting Sydney Airport’s incredibly accommodating and flexible approach.

The pinnacle of the project, and the main reason we suggest visiting the outlet, is its bespoke halo light installation. The project aimed to deliver a new jewel in Heinemann Tax & Duty Free’s expansive portfolio, and the brief was to create an ‘Instagrammable moment’.

Tony explained the team’s approach, ‘We couldn’t install lighting on the ceiling because it’s just too high, so we knew we’d need to hang something, and we had to make it from scratch. We looked around the world and settled on 3 manufacturers – one in Italy, one in New Zealand and one right here in Gosford, Australia.’ After reviewing submissions, the project team and Heinemann Tax & Duty Free decided to stay local, ‘All the proposals were high quality, but with Covid, logistics and procurement were a huge risk. It was also important to both Heinemann and TSA that we try to support a local business – we were confident the Gosford group could do it’.

Ultimately, this recommendation paid off. Local procurement allowed constant and close collaboration between the project team, architect, and supplier, with frequent input from Heinemann Tax & Duty Free and Sydney Airport. It also reduced carbon emissions. Dr Caroline Noller of The Footprint Company (a subsidiary of TSA) advised, ‘The team’s focus on a local procurement solution had the effect of avoiding about 1.1 tonnes (an 85% reduction) of transport carbon emissions as compared to procurement from Italy’.

After numerous designs, prototypes and trips back and forth to Gosford, the Heinemann Tax & Duty Free outlet had its crown. Four sculptural halo lights – up to 10 metres in diameter – now float delicately beneath the airport’s glass ceiling, brightly illuminating rows of curated products and providing that striking Instagram moment Heinemann Tax & Duty Free sought.

Tony described the arduous installation, ‘We managed everything logistically. The halos were delivered at night within the airport’s curfew and arrived in segments to pass through the security scanners. They were assembled behind safety barriers during the day and then mounted very late at night. These lights are enormous, so our priority was safety in a very busy, operational zone’.

In the end, Tony’s team is incredibly happy with and deservedly proud of the outcome, ‘The team loves it. We’ve worked so hard – there were many late and sudden changes and long hours, but we’ve all really enjoyed working on this project. It’s been so rewarding and Heinemann and Sydney Airport are just fantastic’.

Sydney Airport officially opened its new SYD X tax and duty-free luxury precinct in mid-February 2023. Joining the multi-event launch, Tony and his team were thrilled to celebrate the culmination of their hard work with a walk-through of the Mega B store with Gebr. Heinemann’s Co-CEO, Max Heinemann and Sydney Airport’s CEO, Geoff Culbert.

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