Venezuelans in Madrid, the future of duty-free shopping and a spinning start-up in Mexico.
As volatility continues in Venezuela, many of its entrepreneurs and investors are setting their sights on Spain. The diaspora here has doubled to nearly 250,000 in the past two years, bringing with it money and serious business know-how. Wealthy Venezuelans with €500,000 or more to invest in property are among the top recipients of the controversial golden visa, while those with Spanish ancestry can obtain a passport within just three years.
Magally Capriles is one such entrepreneur. She and her wealthy family entered the luxury-home market after their relative, Venezuela’s opposition leader Henrique López Capriles, was barred from office for 15 years after narrowly losing the 2013 election. Together with her siblings she has turned an iconic building in Madrid’s well-heeled Salesas district into LaMarca, a chic hub for fashion, fitness and healthy food. “We are passionate, hard-working people,” says Magally. “And while our country is passing through a difficult moment, we feel grateful to be received in Spain like family.”
Another example is the Sambil group, owned by Venezuela’s commercial-retail giants, the Cohen family. After their last Caracas mall was expropriated on the eve of completion in 2010, the family acquired a bankrupt mall on Madrid’s outskirts. Revived in 2017, it is now one of Europe’s largest commercial-retail developments, boasting 130 shops and 12 cinema screens.
Andoni Goicoechea, meanwhile, who moved to Madrid to study medicine, opened gourmet burger joint Goiko Grill as a side venture in 2013. With 55 locations in 22 cities, it is now valued at more than €150m, turning a healthy profit from Venezuelan staples such as Ardiona cheese, piquillo peppers and fried plantain. For now at least, Venezuela’s loss is Spain’s gain.
The global duty-free industry is predicted to grow to €59bn by 2020 but changing airport habits are an obstacle for retailers. The CEO of Switzerland’s Dufry, the largest duty-free company, talks shop.
How are you evolving the format of duty-free?
Dufry is a pioneer of the “walkthrough” shop concept. Demonstrations, tastings and themed events bring the shops to life. There is also an increasing assortment of limited-edition lines and Dufry exclusives.
How do you tailor your offering to specific markets?
Regional brands are a core part of our retail offer. For example, in our shop in Toulouse Blagnac airport, we offer fragrances and bath products produced by local company La Maison de la Violette, as well as a special honey, Beezou, harvested from 40 hives at the airport itself.
Is there a future for duty-free?
Most definitely. Our most recent concession wins – the MTR high-speed train station in Hong Kong and the Genting Highland leisure resort outside Kuala Lumpur – demonstrate that we can operate outside our classic airport environment.
Given people’s frenetic workdays, squeezing in gym time is never easy; Italian entrepreneur Jan Pastori wants it to be stress-free. Set in a courtyard, his Milan fitness centre Möt Studios opened last year and is a low-key space with hardwood flooring and lots of natural light. “We want it to feel intimate,” says Pastori. “Like a home, not a club.”
The gym allows clients to buy pay-as-you-go plans instead of paying monthly fees, which is a novelty in Milan. Pastori offers pilates, yoga, barre, kettlebell and TRX courses and makes low-peak sessions cheaper in order to motivate people to come in. Sign us up.
Universal Design Studio is an all-rounder: it’s worked on shop design in London, Paris and Berlin, Frieze Art Fair and the Ace Hotel, sinking its teeth into the identity of each company or organisation. Its recent work with luggage brand Rimowa in Berlin is a case in point. The aluminium displays reference the characteristic material of the suitcases and are constructed according to the proportions of the Rimowas. The new shop is as much an exhibition of the brand’s identity as a place to sell wares. “Designing a retail space is like working on a jigsaw puzzle,” says director Hannah Carter Owers. “It doesn’t come together until every piece has found its place.”
Entrepreneurs Alejandro Ramos and Pedro de Garay were so uninspired by Mexico City’s fitness sector back in 2015 that they decided to peddle their own spin on the gym: pay-per-class indoor cycling centres spurred by decibel-blasting beats, energy-replenishing food and sleek spaces for socialising.
“Exercise can feel lonely,” says Ramos. “At Siclo, being together forces everyone to try harder.” Siclo has recently inaugurated its first space in Madrid as part of a spirited international push.
Question: What would you spend €5,000 on?
Answer: “I’m tempted to throw a party for our instructors and frequent riders but I’d probably put it towards paying for flights to help the teams in Mexico and Spain spend more time together.”siclo.com