Dufry Group has signed a new long-term concession contract with P&O Ferries to operate World Duty Free shops onboard 15 vessels, which serve several routes across the Channel, the North Sea and the Irish Sea.
The transfer of the operations with a total of 19 shops across a retail space of 3,600sq m will be phased from April to May 2019.
This follows Dufry’s very public declarations that it not only wishes to expand its footprint and presence in the cruise and ferry channel, but to help elevate the retail experience.
Last month, the company’s CEO Julián Díaz told TRBusiness that Dufry hopes to transform the retail experience on cruise ships within a 12-month period in what he describes as a ‘future investment’ to ‘change the scope of shops’ onboard cruise ships [see exclusive video interview below].
“The way that we understand this business is that it is a future investment in a channel that we believe will have a significant growth,” he told TRBusiness.
BRACED FOR BREXIT?
Nicola Tompkins, Head of Buying & Merchandising, P&O Ferries told TRBusiness recently that the company had enjoyed an ‘amazing summer’ and record traffic figures in August in particular.
However, she also admitted that P&O is currently unclear whether Brexit will affect unrestricted shopping for duty free and travel retail goods, particularly for its passengers on the Dover-Calais route.
If new limits are instated in the event of a Hard Brexit (for example), this could potentially have a significant impact on sales.
“Passengers [particularly from Dover to Calais] are taking advantage of the fact that there are currently no restrictions or limitations on what they purchase,” said Tompkins.
“So that’s the downside [of a Hard Brexit]. But it depends on what those limits are going to be and nobody really knows. So we’re having quite a difficult time, the buyers and I, at the moment kind of planning for the unknown and working out what the different scenarios might be. So it’s difficult.”
‘CREATING MEMORABLE EVENTS’ INCLUDES SHOPPING EXPERIENCES
Having said this, she does admit that if duty free is reinstated, this in itself could be a boon to retail revenue for the company. If the allowance was also to remain unlimited, retail sales could really take off.
Out of the 15 P&O vessels included in Dufry’s new contract, six will sail the route Dover-Calais across the Channel, four ships will serve the North Sea routes Europoort-Hull (two vessels) and Zeebrugge-Hull (two vessels), while the remaining five ferries will sail the Irish Sea from Cairnryan to Larne (two vessels) as well as from Liverpool to Dublin (three vessels).
Besides operating all shops, World Duty Free will be responsible for the refurbishment of the stores and for implementing state-of-the-art shop design to provide a tailored assortment proposition for each route.
Commenting on the new contract, Fred Creighton, Divisional CEO UK and Central Europe said: “We are extremely proud to have been awarded this new concessions contract and to have been entrusted with the transformation of the customer retail experience on board the P&O Ferries’ fleet.
“We look forward to further develop the business with our partners to best serve the customers and to provide them with a memorable shopping experience at sea.”
Janette Bell, CEO of P&O Ferries, added: “We are delighted to be able to partner with WDF to give the customers on our ships shopping experiences of the highest quality.
“Our commitment to creating memorable events for the people who travel with us is one of the reasons why so many of them tell us that their holiday begins as soon as they set foot on our ship.”