DFS Maui lease controversy

DFS Maui lease controversy

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - For years, DFS Hawaii has enjoyed one of the most lucrative retail concessions in the country. But concerns over special treatment have prompted the state Land Board to seek conditions on DFS's outlet at Kahului Airport.

State Land Board member Stanley Roehrig believes the public could benefit by allowing other competitors to bid on the concession.

"I don't think it's in the public interest to have an international retailer call the shots," he said.

"Are we obligated to rubberstamp ... this kind of automatic extension to a monopoly at Kahului airport? The same company has a monopoly at Honolulu Airport and they had it for a long time."

DFS Hawaii is asking the state for a ten-year extension of its retail concession at Maui's Kahului Airport, which expires next month.

The retail giant has agreed to pay a minimum of $1.65 million a year and invest more than $2.7 million to upgrade its retail location and nearby public spaces.

The exclusive Maui and Honolulu airport retail concessions generate tens of millions of dollars in retail sales each year.

An attorney for airport concessionaires denies that special treatment was given and said that other airport retailers can qualify for an extension.

"The comments being made, rich and powerful, special interest legislation only for DFS -- that is simply not true," said James Stone, attorney for the Airport Concessions Committee.

"I don't know why DFS is being singled out."

Instead of reopening the concession to public bid, the Land Board agreed today to approve the ten-year lease but with conditions.

It wants DFS to sell more Hawaiian products and incorporate Hawaiian motifs in the Maui store's design.

Sources believe that those changes won't be finalized before DFS's contract expires next month, so the concession may go out to public bid after all.

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