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Claus Heinemann, co-owner of Gebr Heinemann said that while double-digit growth might not continue, duty free and travel retail is still a very stable industry. Dag Rasmussen, CEO and chairman of Lagardère Travel Retail did not believe that growth was only happening because passenger numbers are growing, and said while the passenger mix is evolving, if we look at the fundamentals the business itself is also indeed growing. Julián Díaz, CEO of Dufry said that the Golden Age of duty free is far from over, and that we have access to a number of marketing tools the high street simply can’t utilise. Moving on to the topic of the trinity, the panel was universal in their agreement that the issue was problematic.
Looking at how to create a differentiated experience, Rasmussen argued that stocking local products was a good way to maintain appeal. Susan Whelan, Senior Executive Vice President of King Power International stated that we need to remain relevant to the next generation of travellers, and ensure we leave space for new brands and new experiences.
Díaz believes that the travel industry is very active in its attempts to understand the customer and much research has been conducted into price sensitivity and other buying behaviours. Digitalisation will enable us to adapt the retail offer to new requirements.
Looking to the future, Rasmussen said that green issues would rise up the agenda, while Díaz spoke of travel retail as a channel between online and the high-street benefitting from a ‘captive audience’.