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Duty free dilemma over local stock

Duty free dilemma over local stock

Monday 13 March 2023

Duty free dilemma over local stock

Monday 13 March 2023

A dispute over who decides what 'local produce' can be sold in the duty free shop at Guernsey Airport has led to independent suppliers asking for more access to the "captive market".

The shop is run by Randalls which has a contract with Guernsey Ports to manage duty free sales at the airport.

Recently, the owner of the Guernsey Hamper Company noticed that a number of local items which she stocks for her customers were not available to buy while air-side at Guernsey Airport.

Chantal Rautenbach said she works with 34 local suppliers which "does not even scratch the surface" of what is available locally. 

She praised the suppliers she works with as all offering "good quality products", saying that she presumes the airport would also have the same high standards as she does for products it sells, in terms of the items and the packaging.

Ms Rautenbach wrote on Facebook of her disappointment at the lack of locally produced goods available to buy while waiting at the airport and this morning she told Express that she has been amazed by the response to her post - which has been seen by more than 14,000 people and shared by almost 100.

"People have liked it and commented on it and they're talking about it, because people are saying things to me," she said, adding that "it's not having a go at Randalls and duty free, but it's a discussion of options of what else can we do."

Ms Rautenbach said her post has led to a number of other local creatives and suppliers saying they would also like to sell their items through the airport's duty free shop but that they had been unable to. She said where they had made contact with Randalls to ask for permission to sell goods through the duty free shop they had either been refused or had no response.

She is not being put off easily though, saying she wanted to "highlight it to the public and the powers that be and maybe we can come up with a plan." She will also be taking a look at the ferry terminal to see what opportunities there are for selling local produce there.

Randalls told Express that "we are first and foremost a duty free shop, which means we primarily stock a wide range of duty free exclusive products. This approach is a requirement of both our supplier and several of the luxury brands they sell to us.

"We are; however, in a relatively unique position amongst duty free shops around the world where we have negotiated with our supplier to sell a limited range of fantastic, locally-made artisan products. We currently stock Sark Caragh Chocolates, Guernsey butter, handmade Guernsey fudge, Alderney Sea Salt, Rocquette Cider, Little Big Brew Co beers, Guernsey Teddies, BarBar Jay products, Bean 14 coffee, Saints Bay Guernsey Gache and our own Extraordinary Spirits."

Ms Rautenbach acknowledged that some local items are on sale in the duty free shop but she would like to see even more.

"It would be great to see more local chocolates - Ben and Rebecca's. I know they sell Caragh chocolates but there weren't any there last week.

"Things like proper locally made fudge, a fridge with dairy supplies. You can buy Rocquettes cider but they make other things - like chutneys, it would be great to see those there too.

"I work with some amazing people who make candles, soaps, craft things - there is so much. The natural health clinic do a lot of wellbeing products. There could even be a section of Christmas decorations - there is so much." 

seaweed sanitiser luke wheadon ben tustin

Pictured: Luke Wheadon (r) produces gin and rum and worked with Ben Tustin of Guernsey Seaweed during the covid pandemic to produce locally made hand sanitiser. 

The Channel Islands Liquor Co which produces Wheadon's Gin and Indica Rum has said "it really is a shame" that some local products including theirs are not available in the airport duty free shop. 

Luke Wheadon - who is looking to expand the Guernsey side of his business with a new distillery and tasting facility at St Peter Port harbour, similar to one already open at St Helier harbour in Jersey - said he would be pleased to sell both of his products there "considering the site is owned by Guernsey and should be supporting and promoting all local products and businesses rather than the monopoly that we see today, especially since off-island products are available that have no benefit to the island".

He said: "We have enquired on several occasions over the years regarding the duty free shop and have been told it will not be possible," adding: "it is to me ridiculous that you can buy Wheadon's gin in Jersey duty free but not in Guernsey".

Ms Rautenbach said she can understand why there may be some controversy with Randalls supplying gin and rum which would be in direct competition with its own liquor products but she maintains the overall greater good which could be achieved by selling a wider selection of local produce.

"I understand that it is a business and an affiliation but if Randalls can't stock those things then maybe we need to look at putting in a local shop or kiosk, or even a form of hedge veg stall with local products all the time. That wouldn't take up a load of space.

"I do understand they've (Randalls) done the renovations but there is such a captive market there."

The Randalls spokesperson said that "as a company, Randalls recognises the importance of small producers to the island’s identity, heritage and economy. We work extensively with local producers across all aspects of our business and champion and support local wherever possible. The high-quality and labour intensive nature of these products often means selling them in the duty free shop has not been economically viable. However, should any local producer want to discuss opportunities directly with us, they should email"

The spokesperson also asked that people treat all their colleagues in the duty free shop with respect.


Pictured: Guernsey Airport’s then-Head of Aviation Services Ash Nicholas and architect Brian Tyrell announced the planned refurbishment in 2018.

The contract between Randalls and Guernsey Ports has previously been described as a "partnership", with Randalls funding a project to redevelop the airport's security areas and the duty free shop during 2018/19.

The project was launched in October 2018, with Randalls announced as the partner for a new public private partnership. It was said that Randalls' Brewery had proposed the idea in the first place as it already had the contract to run the duty free shop which it wanted to expand.

The project saw the security search area in the terminal building expanded with an extended passenger preparation area, and an additional entrance for travellers who need extra assistance.

After passing through security passengers now walk through the duty free shop after the area was remodelled as part of the redevelopment project.


Airport Security Area getting an upgrade

Sandpiper takes over Randalls

Randalls sale collapses 

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