GTR at tipping point says Pernod head

Global travel retail could be at a tipping point, according to the head of Pernod Ricard Global Travel Retail.

Mohit Lal was speaking at a panel discussion, hosted by his division at the TFWA World Exhibition & Conference in Cannes, last Monday (Sept 30).

Lal was answering a question concerning the decision by DFS not to renew its contract with the owners of Singapore Changi airport. 

Only one of the leading operators, Heinemann, is bidding for what is regarded as one of the world’s leading airport retail businesses, along with two Korean operators.

The passing on of the estimated $68m cost of the airport revamp, along with other restrictions, including a reduction on travellers’ tobacco allowance, are thought to be some of the key reasons for DFS’s decision to pull out of Changi.

Lal said: “Yes, it is a potential tipping point. But an airport is an integrated part of the growth of an economy (referring specifically to Asia). Can anyone think of Singapore without an airport?”

He went to say: “Once the true issues started to surface, clear, concise, solutions, would come fast”.

Alexandre Ricard, Pernod Ricard CEO, when asked to predict the future of global travel travel, he answered: “I am very optimistic.” He said the channel has its ups and downs with events such as Asian flu and the current riots in Hong Kong affecting sales in airports, but he described GTR as: “one of the most resilient (retail) channels with people wanting to travel for the foreseeable future.”

He told the audience in the Majestic Hotel on Cannes’s famous La Croisette, that global travel retail was now one of Pernod’s big four markets, along with the US, China and India.

As an example of the possibilities of GTR, he cited US visitors to the Jameson Irish whiskey visitor centre in Dublin, could subsequently be tracked and “provoked” to buy a bottle of Jameson, either at the airport or once they got home.

Lal spoke eloquently of the “ecosystem” whereby companies such as Pernod keep in contact with operators and customers to understand motivations for purchase. He predicted a “sea change” in collaborations with customers.