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Travel Retail is commonly used to describe the duty free retail industry, in addition to all retail activities dedicated to travelers and tourists.

Travel Retail Distribution Channels

  • The Airport stores (before of after security, duty free or not)
  • The Cruise Ships business (stores on board or at the port, such as in many Caribbean Islands, where the #1 source of income is retail to cruise ship passengers)
  • The Inflight Sales (based on the catalogs you can find on board with most airlines)
  • The Border Stores

Nature of the Key Players

The players in the Travel Retail industry can range from very large Fortune 500 companies to local privately owned businesses. They can be categorized as follows:

  • The Suppliers, manufacturing consumer products brands, whether mass market or luxury (see below for details of key players).
  • The Retail Operators, obtaining concessions from Airports or Cruise Ships to operate Travel Retail stores (Dufry, Gebr. Heinemann, Word Duty Free Group, Duty Free Americas for the airports; Starboard for the Cruise Ships)
  • The Distributors (buying form suppliers and selling to operators on regions or channels decided with suppliers, who decides not to deal directly with operators)
  • Agents (companies or individuals paid on commissions to sell suppliers products to operators/retailers)

Geographic Reach

Travel Retail is a very global industry with several important regional hubs, where headquarters or large subsidiaries are gathered to manage several countries or entire continents. The Regions are usually divided this way:

  • Europe, with hubs in London (mostly for Wines & Spirits), in Paris (mostly for Beauty and Luxury Goods) or Geneva.
  • Middle East, with one almost exclusive hub in Dubai
  • Asia – Pacific (APAC), with 2 main hubs in Hong-Kong (mostly for Northern Asia, including China) and Singapore (mostly for South Eastern Asia, including Oceania)
  • Americas (North America, Caribbean, Latin America), with main hubs in Miami and Panama, or sometimes Mexico and Sao Paulo for a more precise focus on Latin and South America

(Europe and Middle East are often managed by one office or team, which usually includes Africa under the acronym of EMEA for Europe-Middle-East-Africa)

Categories of Products

The categories of products distributed in Travel Retail and Duty Free are the following:

  • Alcohol (Wines, Spirits, Liquors and Beers), usually in the top-2 categories depending of the region. Key players: Diageo, Pernod Ricard, Bacardi, Moet Hennessy, Remy Cointreau, Brown Forman, Beam Suntory, Heineken.
  • Beauty (fragrances, skincare, make up), also usually in the top-2 categories. Key Players: L’Oreal, Estee Lauder, Coty, Dior (LVMH), Chanel, Shiseido / Beauty Prestige International, Puig
  • Luxury Goods and Fashion: Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Gucci, Cartier, Chanel, Prada, Salvatore Ferragamo, Bally, Coach, Furla, Hugo Boss, Longchamp
  • Tobacco (cigarette and cigars): PMI (Philip Morris International), JTI (Japan Tobacco International), BAT (British American Tobacco), Imperial Tobacco/CommonWealth/Altadis.
  • Confectionery & Food: Mars, Nestle, Ferrero, Godiva, Hershey’s, Lindt & Sprungli, Mondelez.
  • WatchesJewelryEyewear & Accessories: Tag Heuer, Luxottica, Safilo, Tumi, Montblanc, Swarovski.

Main Travel Retail Job Opportunities

The 2 most important kinds of roles in the Travel Retail & Duty Free industry are:

  • Area Sales Managers, Regional Sales Managers or equivalent, employed by a supplier, a distributor or an agent, and selling the products of one of several brands to Travel Retail Operators.
  • Buyers, Merchandise Managers or equivalent, employed by Travel Retail Operators and buying from Area Sales Managers.

Then, there is obviously trade Marketing on the brand side and all the retail staff on the operator side.

Our Travel Retail job opportunities around the world