Shelf Awareness points to this Chicago Sun-Times article about the end of a bidding war for concession space at O’Hare Airport – the first open competition in a decade. Hudson Booksellers, the incumbent, won out over other competitors in getting a seven year extension. But the competition is crying foul, he way the bid was structured gave Hudson the inside track.
Instead of inviting competition by dividing the news and gift shop concession into smaller, more manageable bites, the Daley administration put all 25 locations into a single package against the advice of its concessions manager. Together, those 15 stores and 10 kiosks generate $41.3 million in annual revenues. “One company can win: the incumbent. It stinks so bad, it’s unbelievable,” a competitor, who asked to remain anonymous, told the Chicago Sun-Times when the competition began nearly a year ago. But Aviation Commissioner Nuria Fernandez argued that Hudson’s contract was “not a renewal, truly” because the company bought out W.H. Smith in December 2003. “Hudson has now competed based on their own merits and they were the highest bid. So, we’ve selected them” from a field of six, she said.