‘Adapt & Survive’ video series: John Woodhouse, Managing Partner, Schäfer

By Andrew Pentol |

Adapt & Survive John hero small for webSchäfer Airport Retail GmbH has launched a new travel health and wellbeing range as part of its plan to emerge stronger, when DF&TR begins its recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

In conversation with TRBusiness during the third edition of this publication’s ‘Adapt & Survive’ Skype video interview series, John Woodhouse, Managing Partner, Schäfer Airport Retail says members of the team are not waiting for business to come to them.

The first two interviews in the Adapt & Survive series feature Peter Mohn, CEO, m1nd-set and Sam Gerber, Managing Partner, Skross.

Woodhouse said: “Over the past eight weeks, before Covid-19 hit Europe, we have been working on introducing a range of [Move branded] KN95 face-masks, hand sanitiser and cleaning wipes.

“We believe these products will be part of travel retail for the time being and even for up to 18 months, as passengers have a little bit of anxiety about travelling in such close proximity to other people.”

Looking at the bigger picture, the German company, which unveiled a further two stores stores under the Move brand at Düsseldorf International Airport, earlier this year, is looking to create a travel health and wellbeing concept for retailers. This will comprise a number of products which are ready to enter DF&TR stores when they re-open.

“In addition to the hand sanitiser and face-masks, the range will include products like mosquito repellent, as many in the industry will have heard about the impact malaria can have on people. Thermometers are another product people might decide they need, in order to be more confident to travel and less stressed about their journey.”

Speaking candidly, Woodhouse, who has worked for the likes of DFS Group, Aer Rianta International and WHSmith during a long and distinguished career in the channel, says it will take a number of months for traffic to recover ‘from zero’.

He also believes it will take several months after that, before people are interested in travelling again.

“We just want to try and help our travel retail and distribution partners through that period,” he remarked.


For a distributor to be successful and add value, it is important they do more than simply ship boxes of products. Woodhouse explained: “We are always looking at ways to help our retailers sell more and be more profitable.

Move health and wellbeing range

Schäfer Airport Retail is looking to create a travel health and wellbeing concept for retailers.

“This new health and wellbeing concept, which is something we are working on in conjunction with our partners is part of that. A number of our partners think the new range will help get people back into their stores.”

Aside discussing the new range, Woodhouse speaks openly about the impact of the crisis on the company’s DF&TR business. “Like everyone in travel retail, we have felt the decline in passengers.

“Before I came on this call, I looked at the scheduled flight activity for Cologne Airport over the next 24 hours. The airport, which normally handles around 12 to 14 million passengers per year only had four passenger flights scheduled.

“Many flights have been cancelled and when flights are cancelled passengers don’t fly and when passengers don’t fly the stores are empty.

“At this stage it is a downward spiral for the travel retail business. We hope it will come back quickly, but at this stage there is very little business.”

Schafer Pier A store

TRBusiness was the sole travel retail media in attendance for the official inauguration of Schäfer Airport Retail’s two Move stores at Düsseldorf International Airport in late January.

In the interim, members of the Schäfer team, which are working out of home offices are focusing on the retail distribution side of the business. “This has experienced a slower decline than the airport specific sales, perhaps because a number of our partners have off-airport businesses as well, which they are still willing to buy from.”

Looking ahead, Woodhouse, who believes the company’s DF&TR business could take an 80% hit due to the crisis, acknowledges the next quarter will be exceedingly difficult. “I believe traffic will start coming back in June. Airlines such as British Airways and Cathay Pacific and low cost carriers such as Ryanair seem to be looking at trying to put capacity back into the market in June.

“Between now and then, airlines will be running skeleton services. Cathay, for example, only has two flights a week to Europe at the moment.”

He added: “Traffic will come back and people will start travelling again. By Q4, business should be back to normal. Let’s hope we have a good summer, as so much of this industry relies on having a good summer.”



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