CEETRA Travel Retail Forum: Appeal of homegrown brands a top talking point

By Faye Bartle |

CEETRA Budapest 2024

Andrzej Milaszewicz, MD, Operations and Development, Lagardère Travel Retail Poland.

The Central and Eastern European Travel Retail Association (CEETRA) welcomed a broad cross-section of industry stakeholders from across the region to its Forum in Budapest last week (25 April, 2024) to discuss the important role of regional brands and the latest advocacy efforts.

The CEETRA Travel Retail Forum was led by Chairman Andrzej Milaszewicz, Managing Director for Operations and Development, Lagardère Travel Retail Poland, who reiterated his objective to enhance networks by creating a communication junction in the region.

First to take to the stage was Peter Mohn, Owner & CEO of m1nd-set, who shared updated passenger figures and data for the Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) region.

Budapest and Warsaw airports are forecast to be the largest airports in the region, with approx. 8.3 million departing passengers each this year, followed by Bucharest and Prague (with 7.5m each), according to ATA Direct Data Solutions (DDS) and m1nd-set’s own data.

Passengers in CEE are more likely to buy on impulse than in the rest of Europe, and less likely to interact with staff, highlighting potential areas for improvement.

Outlining plans ahead of the upcoming EU elections (6-9 June, 2024), Julie Lassaigne, General Secretary of ETRC said: “Engagement of regional and local associations is very important to us, and even though we coordinate on EU level, we could not do it without them.”

The discussion also focused on the industry’s sustainability initiatives, with Lassaigne encouraging stakeholders to “reduce, re-use and re-fill” packaging.

With regards to regulations on the radar, such as mandatory deposit return schemes (DRS) for single-use plastic bottles and metal beverage container, Lassaigne noted that association members continue to receive timely information on planned and actual legislation.

CEETRA Budapest 2024

Peter Mohn, Owner & CEO of m1nd-set at the CEETRA Travel Retail Forum in Budapest.

Bence Biro, Managing Director of Gebr. Heinemann’s Hungarian subsidiary Magyar Duty Free was joined by colleagues Barbara Puncsák, Head of Retail Development, and Eszter Udvardy, Head of Assortment & Marketing, who shared insights into how store design and engagement with local brands can deliver ‘unforgettable experiences’ for customers.

Every fourth product sold by the duty free operator is based locally. As such, they highlighted inspirational case studies of localisation within the Magyar Duty Free portfolio. Plus, two homegrown brands took to the stage to share their stories.

The first was ChocoMe, a Hungarian confectionery company offering exclusive handmade chocolates, which has grown from a 2010 start-up into a global player present in 23 duty free shops at airports and cruise ships.

Founder Gábor Meszáros reported strong sales growth (with pre-pandemic numbers already exceeded in 2022) and how business has benefited from airport tastings and promotions.

CEETRA Budapest 2024

Julie Lassaigne, General Secretary of ETRC (pictured right) discussed the plan ahead of the EU elections and sustainability initiatives.

Dr. Bálint Dámosy, Founder of Ginsmith and Hungarian’s first craft gin distillery, OperaGin, said the secret of success starts with quality ingredients (the gin features locally sourced lavender and poppy seeds). Strong branding – the labels feature the Budapest opera house– add to the product’s appeal for gifting in travel retail.

Martins Tamovics, Budapest Airport’s Airport Development Director showcased the airport’s expansions plans and discussed the challenges in balancing the needs of all stakeholders.

He also provided an insight into how the development team integrates the needs of commercial partners in the masterplanning process.

“We are looking for a sustainable balance in capacity development, revenue growth and quality,” he said, highlighting how retail and F&B offerings are an important part of a high-quality passenger experience.

A glimpse of the future of aviation was provided by Patrick Bohl, Business Development at Evia Aero, who shared the company’s vision to grow air travel in a scalable, sustainable yet economically viable manner, with the German company set to operate regional flights using emissions free aircraft such as Eviation’s Alice.

“We support the regional economy providing customers the opportunity of affordable, time-saving and sustainable travel,” said Bohl, who confirmed, that the Bremen-based team is in advanced discussions with numerous airports to invest in photovoltaic solar energy plants and recharging facilities.

READ MORE: CEETRA confirms 2024 board and welcomes new members

READ MORE: CEETRA Warsaw Forum celebrates high impulse purchases amid challenges

READ MORE: CEETRA Forum reveals the latest on Poland’s CPK multi-modal airport city

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