It is with great sadness that TRBusiness reports the passing of industry pioneer, Founder of Generation Research, Yngve Bia on 1 December 2022, after he suffered a heart attack at his home in Portugal.
His funeral, attended by his closest family and friends, was held in the Själevads Church, Örnsköldsvik, Sweden on 12 January 2023. He is survived by his three children Stella, Alexander and Charlotta, all of whom live in the UK.
Bia lived happily in Portugal with his dog, aka his ‘best friend’, Kiki, since he sold the industry-renowned data & analysis company, Generation Research, to Fredrik Lindh in 2015, after which he retired.
Creating the company 36 years ago, Bia’s Generation Research became an indispensable tool for the industry, producing the following publications: Best ’n’ Most; The Travel Retail Perfumery Report; TRIQ Confectionery; TRAQ Beverage, TRAQ Confectionery & Fine Food & TRAQ Tobacco and TREND News.
A close friend and former business partner of TRBusiness, Bia helmed the joint venture TREND News website and newsletter service, together with TRBusiness owners Nigel Hardy, Janice Hook and former Editorial Director, Doug Newhouse.
While Bia was often described as discreet, his experience and knowledge of the DF&TR industry was unmatched. For his incredible insights documented almost 10 years ago in a superbly comprehensive interview with then TRBusiness Editorial Director, Doug Newhouse, you can watch the below video.
During the exclusive video interview filmed during the 2014 TFWA World Exhibition & Conference, Bia weaves a detailed tapestry of the state of the industry, which serves as a rich and perennially-useful, historical source.
Born and raised in Örnsköldsvik, Sweden, Bia studied at the University of Uppsala.
After a spell working for a Swiss retail company, he then decided to start his own company, Generation Research, in 1979.
It was actually when he was living in Hong Kong that he first recognised the lack of data and information available within the tax free and travel retail business.
TRBusiness understands from his former colleagues, Eva Östlund and Helén Hägglund, that in order to build the huge database which has powered Generation Research data for over four decades, he borrowed a friend’s computer in the evenings to in order to document all the products and numbers.
Never fully detaching himself from his hometown of Örnsköldsvik, whilst living in Hong Kong Bia fed his passion for writing by penning articles for a Swedish newspaper under the appropriately titled, ‘Our Man in Hong Kong’, whilst continuing to publish articles in Best ’n’ Most and on the Generation Research website.
Tributes to a ‘true visionary’
Aside his love of writing, he was a talented piano player and dabbled in song writing. Impressively, he released an album of his own songs performed by Brian Frank.
“Yngve was a great man, a true visionary and he will be deeply missed,” said former Generation Research colleague Eva Östlund. “We enjoyed working for and with him during our years at Generation Research.”
“I will always be grateful for the times spent with Yngve at Generation Research, for the generosity he showed and the wisdom he shared,” added fellow colleague, Helén Hägglund.
TRBusiness understands that prior to his passing, Bia had been enjoying his life, playing golf, playing the piano and taking long walks with Kiki.
“Yngve was a true gentleman within the travel retail industry, with the emphasis on the word ‘gentle’,” said TRBusiness Co-Owner, Nigel Hardy.
“Amongst the many louder-than-life characters that populated the business, he stood out from them with his quiet, mild-mannered and almost humble demeanour.
“A genuine pioneer, who with his data collection and analysis, provided the travel retail world for many years with invaluable information that formed the cornerstone of endless company business plans, conferences and even job applications.
“I have many fond memories of times spent with Yngve, both working alongside him on our joint venture TREND and listening to his anecdotes that were often laced with his unique strain of observational humour. May you Rest in Peace Yngve.”
TFWA President: ‘Way ahead of his time’
TRBusiness was fortunate to hear from TFWA President Erik Juul-Mortensen, who communicated his sentiments earlier today: “Yngve Bia was a man with a vision.
“He gave us a set of industry data, which may not have been perfect, but which allowed the industry to track itself in broad terms, and to use those figures with institutions, regulators and governments to demonstrate the value of our industry to the aviation and maritime economies. No-one else has successfully achieved that and it is sorely missed.”
“Quiet and understated, way ahead of his time, Yngve developed a platform to marshal and crunch an enormous amount of data from his small office in equally small Örnsköldsvik where he worked with a loyal and dedicated team. For many years, Best ‘n Most was an indispensable tool for the industry.
“Yngve was a ‘one-off’. He was a very private person, but through the sheer force of his personality he convinced leaders of businesses across all categories and channels to entrust their data to him.
“In return he generously shared insights which helped people develop their businesses, and in doing so made friends across the world, including at TFWA whose conferences were enriched by Yngve’s data.”
TRBusiness would like to invite all those who knew Yngve Bia to share your own memories, anecdotes and stories of him via [email protected].