Winners picked for lucrative Atlanta airport shop contracts, but no approvals yet

8:06 p.m Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2017 Travel
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
A passenger pulls rolling luggage through Hartsfield-Jackson International in April. Officials want airport shops to have a more local flavor. JASON GETZ / JGETZ@AJC.COM

Several companies have been selected for lucrative contracts running retail shops at the world’s busiest airport, though the city has not yet moved the deals forward for approval amid controversy surrounding the contracting process.

The city of Atlanta’s procurement department wrote notification letters this month for the contracts for retail shops.

The biggest contracts would go to The Marshall Retail Group and to a Hudson Group joint venture called HG ATL Retailers Joint Venture, based on the city’s recommendations for contracts.

But the city also recommended Hojeij Branded Foods for a contract and Business Traveler Services for a contract with several small vending locations. Another company, Select Food Group, was recommended for two small contracts.

Meanwhile, the airport said it would rebid four other retail shop contracts after finding too many companies were disqualified.

The letters to the winning firms signed by interim chief procurement officer Susan Garrett start with “Congratulations,” and say the city has completed its evaluation of proposals for the projects and that the city procurement department and airport will recommend to the city council and mayor that contracts be awarded to the companies selected.

However, the retail concessions contracting process has come under scrutiny amid the mayoral race, after multiple candidates prior to the general election called for a halt to the process amid a federal investigation into a cash-for-contracts scandal at City Hall. Concessionaires had complained that the process was too rushed as the city sought to get the deals approved before Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed’s term ends.

More recently, an Atlanta airport deputy general manager has been put on leave after the city found his wife owns a company that does business in Washington with Hojeij Branded Foods.

A spokeswoman for Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said last week that the city is “in the process of reviewing all current and pending contracts with the vendor.”

Hojeij said in a statement: “We believe in the integrity of the procurement process and are confident that any awards to HBF will be made based on the merits of our proposal.”

The concessions contracts are not on the written agenda for consideration by the Atlanta City Council’s transportation committee this week.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed’s deputy chief of staff Katrina Taylor Parks said this week: “All I’m able to say right now is everything is under review.”

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