HONOLULU, July 13, 2012 / — DFS Hawaii, which opened its doors at Honolulu International Airport 50 years ago, is celebrating its anniversary this month with meetings of its board of directors and its worldwide executive committee in Waikiki. A special event for all its employees and retirees took place July 10 at the Waialae Country Club.
Hawaii has played a very special role in the company’s history. First, it was the fledgling company’s first experience in dealing with Japanese and other international travelers. Second, it is home to the company’s largest single store and one of its largest airport concession leases. And, the DFS Galleria Waikiki is the company’s only large store that caters to both duty free and duty paid (open to all) shopping.
Setting the template for its expansion into other locations, the owners quickly realized the need to set very high service standards and to appreciate the particular customs and shopping patterns of each nationality, beginning with Japanese – the majority of the Hawaii Division’s customers, even today.
“Most recently, we have seen a surge in the numbers and spending of customers from China,” said David Charles, managing director of the Hawaii Division. “Korean and Japanese customers remain very important to us, of course. However, thanks in part to the APEC meeting in Hawaii and to the hard work of the travel industry, we are pleased to see Chinese customers in growing numbers and with a seemingly insatiable desire for certain high-end luxury goods.”
As part of the celebration, DFS Galleria Waikiki is featuring works by host-culture Hawaiian artists and artisans in its lobby level. In August, DFS will hold its second annual Art of Hawaiian Coffee event, a celebration and recognition of Hawaii’s unique history as a coffee producer. The event includes coffee growers from around the state, a historic exhibit, music, children’s activities, a barista latte art competition and a staff-built coffee mosaic.
To mark its 50th anniversary in Hawaii, retailer DFS Group donated $10,000 to each of five nonprofit organizations: Aloha United Way, Assets School, The Honolulu Museum of Art, Waikiki Community Center and Washington Place Foundation.
In addition, DFS, in the name of Peter Fithian, is endowing a $50,000 scholarship at the School of Travel Industry Management (TIM) at the University of Hawaii. Fithian, founder and owner of Greeters of Hawaii, was instrumental in helping establish the first DFS (then Duty Free Shoppers) store at Honolulu International Airport in 1962. “We are so pleased to be able to honor Peter in this way and we thank him for all he has helped us with in Hawaii over the years,” said Robert Miller, one of the DFS founders and an owner of the company along with LVMH.
“DFS has been extraordinarily fortunate to have grown with Hawaii over the years, and we are honored to be a member of this community. We are proud to be part of one of the most important travel destinations in the world and want to continue to do our part to ensure the health and well-being of this state,” said David Charles, managing director of the DFS Hawaii Division.
Community giving has played a major role in DFS’ success in Hawaii. Over the years, DFS has contributed to many charities. Those selected for the gifts announced today are charities with a long association with the company’s corporate giving programs.