Good news for the Travel Retail Sector as top 10 operators report 20% growth last year

24th October 2019

TFWA in Cannes 2019
Fresh from our visit to the Tax Free World Association exhibition and summit in Cannes at the beginning of the month we were not surprised to see the latest figures reported in the October issue of TR Business magazine that the top ten global duty free and travel retail operators increased their sales by 20% last year, to $44.37 billion. As regular blog readers will know, travel retail design is one of our niche specialisms here at Barber and it is very exciting to be working within an industry which is experiencing such steady growth and investment.

TFWA in Cannes 2019

When it comes to who’s who in the top ten, Swiss travel retail giants Dufry retained the top-spot, but the rest of the pack were primarily from Asia – a market where we have been designing and working quite a bit over the past few years – which has experienced significant growth during this period. Most notable amongst these movers and shakers are the China Duty Free Group who moved up to number 4 from number 8 in the top 10 with 126% growth during 2018.

And it’s not just airport duty free stores that are making waves – the potential for growth within the cruise ship sector is acknowledged in the report as being very significant to some retailers growth strategies – with opportunities arising both on board ship and within the travel hubs or ports where the cruise ships dock.

Macau Duty Free visuals

Sustainable travel hubs

One of the key messages we picked up on at the TFWA this year was the value of creating sustainable offers. Retailers are responding to consumer demand regarding disposable plastics and ethical production values and recognising that there is value in addressing these concerns.

Speaking to TR Business, Eugene Barry from Dubai Airport explained that they have pledged to ban all single use plastics from consumer spaces throughout Dubai International Airport by 1st January 2020. Announced in June, this was considered a bold move for the world’s busiest international airport and some wondered if it was actually achievable. Speaking to TR Business,  Barry defended his impressive plan:

“It is very ambitious but we believe it is something that we have a responsibility to do at Dubai Airports, in close collaboration with our concession and hospitality partners. Already great steps are being taken to reduce availability and usage of single-use plastics within the airport. Some of our largest partners have even brought forward the implementation of their global sustainability strategies, to be able to fulfil their side of the promise.”

So, far from being unachievable, it seems that the Eugene Barry and his team are blazing a trail when it comes to sustainability and the move has had a positive knock-on effect amongst their partners who are bringing their plans forward and passing these new strategies on to other airports. This isn’t the only positive move from Dubai airport who are working on a number of green initiatives including energy reduction campaigns, with solar panels and a fuel-efficient fleet.

Retail Travel Design for the future

As a retail design business we have noticed that our clients are asking for more and more ethical and sustainable materials, from reclaimed timber to LED lighting to living green walls. They want to know that materials are produced in sustainable and energy-efficient ways and we are keen to work with them implement new sustainable measures and cutting edge technology into our travel retail designs.

At the moment we are working on several travel retail design projects with international clients but can’t really reveal more until they are opened, so watch this space where all will be revealed once they are open for business.

Want to know more about how to integrate ethical and sustainable values into your customer experience? Get in touch for a chat.


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