How new brands have blazed a trail in the travel retail sector

12th January 2015

Over the past few years, the travel retail sector has become one of the fastest-growing areas in retail. By recognising and responding to this change Barber Design have forged a reputation as one of the UK’s leading travel retail designers. We have helped both national and international companies to experience the benefits of tailoring their products or retail proposition specifically for this sector.

Camel chocolate concession in an Airport

Travel hubs provide an immensely valuable global shop window, which allows retailers to trial different ideas on a broad demographic – whilst potentially improving their global brand awareness. Despite the economic challenges experienced by High Street retailers, last year the competition for retail space within railways stations, ferry ports and airport terminals was stronger than ever. Travel retail is flourishing and it’s never been a better time to try it – as many established brands take their first foray into the exciting world of travel retail.

New brands find success

But it’s not just old favourites who are riding on the crest of the travel retail wave. Many new brands have taken this opportunity to launch their ideas – with great success.

Runaway success

Butterfly Twists foldable shoes came from humble beginnings in London, to being sold in more than 50 countries by 40 different airlines – in just two years! The brand’s innovative concept and fresh, outside-the-box thinking enabled them to carve a unique niche in a sector that can be difficult for a newcomer to crack.

Butterfly twists travel retail display stand

Philippe Homsy, co-founder of Butterfly Twists explains the role of travel retail in their success:

“We’re always so keen on travel retail as you’re in an environment – say an airport – where all of a sudden you have 10,000 people walking through on a daily basis who represent 100 different countries, and we can reach those people that we wouldn’t do on a normal basis through a store in London or in New York. We can suddenly introduce our product to a whole new category of customer and I think that’s why travel retail, in the beginning, had an obvious pull for us.”

Camel Chocolate

Another unique brand that has found success as a staple many duty free stores is Dubai-based Al nassma Chocolate, the world’s first luxury camel milk confectionery, which launched in 2008. By quickly identifying the travel retail sector as an ideal distribution channel for their products, first within regional airports – then expanding internationally to other countries including Japan, where the chocolate incredibly popular.

Director of Sales at Al nassma Chocolate, Patrick Dorais, describes how they have used passenger demographic information to develop their business strategy:

“We plan to continue developing in travel retail primarily by continuing to open doors in Asia Pacific, and Europe, where we know through passenger nationality research that Al nassma trades well. We are working on some interesting product innovations to continue to develop the category.

“There are lots of confectionery brands in travel retail today but most so-called ‘travel retail exclusives’ are in fact just dressed-up versions of the same count line or bar found in the petrol station or kiosk downtown. Al nassma is in that sense different, as our distribution strategy is to be present only in the finest shopping environments. We are very strict about our distribution and merchandising guidelines in order to maintain the brand image and are successfully selling chocolates at prices in excess of US$175 (£115) per kilo.”

Not only do travel hubs provide a chance to showcase brands to new audiences, they can also provide retailers with detailed demographic information, to help them develop their branding and marketing strategies as their businesses go from strength to strength. It’s an exciting time to be involved in the travel retail sector and Barber Design are very happy to be a part of it.


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