DFS billionaire sets off on Atlantic speed record bid

US. Not content with resting on the fortune he made in founding DFS Group (originally Duty Free Shoppers) 70-year old Robert Miller set off from New York yesterday on a cross-Atlantic world speed record attempt.

Robert Miller left Manhattan with his crew of 23, on board the Mari Cha IV. They will attempt to make the 2,925-mile journey to Lizard Point in Cornwall, UK, in less than eight days – a record for a single hull yacht

In a statement Miller told the press: “I have been a sailor all my life. There’s nothing more exciting than the adrenalin rush of being on a fast boat in severe weather conditions. I have a great team of sailors and an awesome boat so we think we can do considerable damage to all the leading world records if we have the right conditions.”

Miller is believed to have spent US$16 million on the project.

The global leader in the travel retail market, DFS Group, was formed by Robert Miller together with Charles Feeney, when they began selling duty free liquor and foreign cars to tourists and US servicemen in Europe in the late 1950s. By 1960, DFS had moved to Asia, opening offices near US Air Force and Navy bases-and forming under the original name Tourists Duty Free Sales Co.

Its early success was based on its direct supply lines with liquor companies whereas rivals had to go through distributors. Liquor and tobacco sales were sufficient to attract shoppers on guided tours to larger off airport stores. In 1961, Duty Free Shoppers opened its first airport duty free store in Hong Kong and a year later in Honolulu, the two regional bases that became the main platforms for its future growth.

Robert Miller, a Korean War veteran, is estimated to be worth more than US$1.5 billion. He founded the Hong Kong-based Duty Free Shoppers in the 1960s and is the founder of Search Group, an international investment company. He owns Gunnerside Estate in Yorkshire, one of the largest country estates in the UK, and also has homes in Hong Kong, London, New York and Paris.

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