The Central and Eastern European Travel Retail Association (CEETRA) held its annual CEETRA Forum on 28 April in Prague, Czech Republic.
DF&TR stakeholders gathered for the bi-annual event jointly hosted by Lagardère Travel Retail Czech Republic and Prague Airport to learn more about the challenges and opportunities facing the regional industry and upcoming regulatory changes.
Andrzej Milaszewicz, Chairman of CEETRA and CEO of Lagardère Duty Free (Polska), reminded delegates of CEETRA’s role to “bring together all local ecosystems, not only airports, airlines or operators, but also brands, producers and tourism”.
He said that chambers of tourism will play an increasingly important role in the organisation’s future.
“We all remember the massive uncertainty felt at last year’s event towards 2023,” said Milaszewicz. “But today we see recovery all around as well as some important changes in consumer behaviour.”
Average spend ‘stagnating’
František Kachlík, Executive Director Commercial at Prague Airport, opened the forum by welcoming the opportunity to exchange best practice among peers.
Despite regulatory pressures, the airport rode out the Covid crisis effectively by working closely with its operator partners and connected businesses.
Prague Airport is looking forward to infrastructure developments such as a a fast railway to Prague and the region and plans for a major airport city were revealed in some detail to the audience.
Peter Mohn, Owner and CEO, m1nd-set then presented the most recent CEE survey on passenger behaviours.
According to m1nd-set, 55% of purchases today are for own consumption followed by gifting and sharing.
M1nd-set shared that 30% of shoppers know what they want before getting to the airport and 45% plan to shop but are still undecided.
The average basket in duty free declined in CEE compared with the pre-Covid period, and is stagnating at around $100.
Julie Lassaigne, Secretary General of the European Travel Retail Confederation (ETRC), highlighted the opportunity provided by the ongoing review of the EU VAT Tourism & Travel package by the Directorate-General for Taxation and Customs Union (DG TAXUD).
“Giving EU airports the right to arrivals duty and tax free shops would be a key measure to support the European aviation ecosystem post-Covid”, said Lassaigne.
Delegates heard that there would be no negative impact on government tax revenues, as sales would shift from outside the country to the country’s own airport, supporting local jobs and businesses.
CPK: Poland’s airport city project
During the CEETRA Forum, attendees were treated to key plans on the region’s next big project in the form of a major airport city: Centralny Port Komunikacyjny (CPK) in central Poland.
Adam Dużyński, responsible for airport commercial strategy at the state enterprise Polish Airports PPL, shared details of the CPK multi-modal transport hub located between Warsaw and Łódź.
Designed to serve 40 million passengers per annum initially, there are options to extend this to 65 million pa.
Expected to open in 2028, the project has entered the design phase.
British consortium Foster + Partners has been appointed as well as Buro Happold as Master Architect for the passenger terminal and railway station.
Jimmy Motte, Global Head of Digital & Innovation at Lagardère Travel Retail, took to the stage.
Pointing to research, he reported that nine in ten customers are more likely to choose a retailer based on convenience.
“Today, 41% of travellers are willing to pay more for a product if they can purchase more quickly and conveniently,” he said.
Motte said that this is reason enough for the multi-location travel retailer to invest in concept stores to collect data and experience for the future.
Continuing, he said the audience could benefit from best practice and lessons learned from the fully automated ‘pay as you walk out’ airport shops in Brussels (Quick N’ Easy), Hong Kong (Travelwell) and Charlotte (The goods express).
Elsewhere during the event, local hero brand Slivovitz and other liqueurs from Czech distillery R. Jelinek were recognised.
Sales and Marketing Director Miroslav Motyčka said that the travel retail category now represents 10% of the company’s total sales and has been a main driver for innovation and product development.
During the networking evening preceding the event, participants heard about the heritage of the Jelinek family and had a chance to taste the products.