Retailers have until the end of June to bid for 18 spots in Grand Cayman’s refurbished airport terminal, which is expected to open in late 2018.

The Cayman Islands Airports Authority is inviting bids from businesses interested in operating shops, restaurants, cafes or duty free stores in the new-look Owen Roberts International Airport.

Businesses that are more than 60 percent Caymanian owned and those that already operate in the airport will be given additional points in the bid process.

The formula for the bids means successful businesses will be required to pay a percentage of their income to the airports authority. They will also be asked to specify a minimum annual guarantee, which they will be required to pay regardless of sales.

Robert Hamaty, chairman of the tenants association at Owen Roberts International Airport, said he is happy that the tender process had considered the rights of existing airport retailers, though he had argued that the current owners should be “grandfathered” in to the new terminal.

He warned that the system of charging retailers a percentage of their take was alien to the Cayman Islands and put the tenants at a disadvantage.

“It is a no-lose situation for the airport,” he said.

“If you do well, you have to pay them more. If you do badly, they still get their minimum annual guarantee.

“It is not a system that I agree with, personally. It is alien to the Cayman Islands because it punishes success.”

Despite those concerns, Mr. Hamaty, who runs three stores in the existing airport, said he planned to bid for space in the refurbished airport. He said Tortuga Rum Company had already lost a lot of business due to the closure of two of its airport stores to facilitate the redevelopment.

“The airport stores are a major part of our business. We have lost two already and we will lose another one later this year when the contract runs out. That is nobody’s fault. The airport is being redeveloped, which is much needed.

“Those stores are an important part of our brand. We might not agree with the system but the decision has been made, so we will abide by the rules and bid along with everyone else and see what happens.”

He said the airport retailers had taken the decision to temporarily disband their association while the bid process takes place.

“It doesn’t make sense for us to have the association and fight like crabs in a bucket for the new contracts,” he said. He indicated it would likely reform once the spaces are allocated and the retailers move into the new airport, likely around late 2018.

According to the request for proposals, which was issued last week, the available space breaks down into 9,150 square feet of food and beverage space, 1,852 square feet of retail space and 5,001 square feet of duty free space across 18 units.

Interested retailers can log onto the Cayman Islands Government E-Bidding Portal at to receive proposal documents. Deadline for submission of bids is 4 p.m. on June 30.


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