Harding+ hopes self-treating at sea will endure in face of economic challenges

By Trb Editor |

James Prescott

Left: James Prescott. Right: Specialist Pandora jewellery lounge on Norwegian Cruise Line Prima.

With much of the cruise sector now riding the waves and occupancy levels increasing, Harding+ Chief Executive James Prescott predicts another busy year for the company, with 20 planned ship launches, new brands and concepts.

Prescott shared his views in the TRBusiness Global Industry Survey 2023*, including his assessment of the travel retail industry in 2022.

“On cruise specifically, 2022 was the year we finally ‘came back’ in full,” he said.

“It was a momentous year in so many ways. Looking back on what has been achieved right across the industry was remarkable. All ships [pre-Covid] are sailing again.”

Read on for Prescott’s answers to our top questions…

Question: What are your expectations for your business in travel retail in 2023 and what are the major challenges you anticipate?

Answer from Harding+ Chief Executive James Prescott: The expectations are for another incredibly full-on year. We launch another 20 ships in 2023 (on top of the 84 sailing as of December), including a number of major new flagships, executing many new concepts, with many new brands.

READ MORE: Harding+ opens ‘sea-first’ pre-loved boutique with P&O Cruises Arvia

The occupancy should also ‘normalise’ in 2023. As of the end of December, the industry occupancy was sitting around 80%, with a steady climb back to ‘full normal’ expected by the summer season.

Product availability in a number of categories is still causing challenges and this is expected to last until Q2. Hopefully no longer than that.

Carnival Mardi Gras

Harding+ shopping concessions will appear on Carnival Mardi Gras.

How do you anticipate inflation and the risk of global recession affecting your business and the consumer appetite to spend in the travel retail channel in 2023?

Cruise feels somewhat different to other travel retail channels. Cruise itself offers excellent value for the consumers, and largely those prices are ‘set’, so guests have already planned & (to a degree) fixed what they’ll spend.

“The expectations are for another incredibly full-on year. We launch another 20 ships in 2023.” James Prescott, Chief Executive, Harding+

The retail spend element is then relatively small and the primary reason for purchase onboard is self-treat, which is different to airports, where value tends to be the primary reason.

READ MORE: Harding+ reveals Cunard x Liberty special edition scarf to mark new store

That self-treat element we’d hope will still be the case in 2023 despite the inflation/recession impacts.

As Prescott summarised: “There is no question that the industry continues to face some incredibly tough challenges, but as we have always proven – having survived everything that’s been thrown at us in the last 20 years in particular – we’ll continue to rise to the challenges.”

CLICK HERE: To read the Global Industry Survey 2023 in full.

*The Global Industry Survey was conducted during November 2022 up until the second week of January 2023. Some of the views expressed are representative of individuals rather than their entire organisations. Some of the comments were also shared prior to China’s announced easing of travel restrictions from 8 January. 

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