Interview: Francis Gros

27/03/2017 Travel retail has been part of Francis Gros’ career from the start. Here he tells us about his role at Luxottica, his ambitions for TFWA as a new board member, and how a professional interest in retail blends seamlessly with family life.

When and why did you first get involved with travel retail?

Francis Gros: From my first job in 1989 as assistant product manager for fragrance and make-up brand Bourjois, then part of Chanel. I was tasked with developing the first multipack promotions for Asian travel retail, including DFS and inflight customers. Subsequent moves within the company led to a role as General Manager for Japan, where duty free was also an important part of my business.

As a recently elected TFWA board member, how would you like to see the Association develop in the next few years?

I see it more as a case of evolution than revolution. I want to build on the great work of the last few years during Erik Juul-Mortensen’s tenure with the “By the trade, for the trade” ethos. We must continue to promote our industry and its appeal, campaigning for a channel that doesn’t directly compete with any other but adds value, jobs and experience to the economy. As for the conferences, I want to maintain the quality of our speakers and the issues they address. On research, we need to develop the offering further and support our members with data, monitoring and insight. The Digital Village initiative will also be key, driving the industry’s transition into the digital era.

Can you tell us about your work at Luxottica and how the travel retail business is doing there?

As Head of Global Channels I lead a business unit that combines Luxottica’s licensed and owned brands plus the Sunglass Hut outlets in travel retail with a similar mandate in domestic department stores. I also look after our licensed eyewear brands (such as Armani, Dolce & Gabbana and Michael Kors) in domestic-market boutiques. We follow global shoppers as they move between domestic stores and travel retail, aiming to give them a consistently high level of service both in airports and city centres. In 2016 we opened over 40 outlets domestically and in travel retail, installed shop-in-shops on every continent, developed new marketing activities and more, so business is busy.

What are your interests outside work?

I love tennis, skiing and sailing but often find it tricky to fit these around my travel schedule for work. Formula 1 is another passion and I try to attend as many Grands Prix as possible. I’m delighted that Luxottica sponsors my favourite team, Ferrari, with Ray-Ban. Being the father of three daughters, my professional interest in retail blends nicely with my four ladies’ penchant for shopping. Any time that remains is devoted to investor and alumni groups and mentoring graduates. 

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