Industry will adapt to change after Brexit, says TFWA MD John Rimmer

By Andrew Pentol |


TFWA Managing Director John Rimmer is backing the industry to quickly come to terms with any enforced changes following Brexit.

The TFWA has praised the work of the industry associations including the European Travel Retail Confederation (ETRC) and UK Travel Retail Forum (UKTRF) in trying to obtain clarity on all issues relating to Brexit.

As things stand, the UK will leave the European Union on 31 October 2019 with or without a deal. Last month, the UK Treasury revealed that duty free shopping in European countries would return should the UK leave the European Union without a deal.

Speaking to TRBusiness as part of a wide-ranging video interview this month in Cannes, John Rimmer, Managing Director, TFWA said: “From a purely industry perspective, our colleagues in the various associations, particularly the ETRC and UKTRF have been working very hard to try and get some clarity from the authorities on what is going to happen to the duty free industry after Brexit, particularly in the event of a hard Brexit.


“My personal view is that from an industry perspective we are just trying to ensure there is clarity and that companies are able to see clearly what they are going to have to do from 1 November.”

He added: “From what I understand, the rules that have been drawn up are rather convoluted which is going to make things very disruptive.”

While Rimmer indicted it would be difficult for all companies — retailers or brands — to adapt to a completely different regime overnight, he was confident in the industry’s ability to come to terms with the changes on the horizon: “We have dealt with changes before such as abolition in 1999 and all the turmoil that caused. I would hope Brexit from a duty free perspective would be more straightforward.

“It is all about obtaining clarity and I certainly salute the efforts of the trade associations.”

Offering a snapshot of where we are as an industry in general, Rimmer revealed year-on-year growth, particularly in Asia Pacific. He also said we could be ‘broadly optimistic’ despite various challenges. “The beauty category seems to be driving growth. Most of the beauty brands we talk to are pretty happy with the growth they are generating in various parts of the world.

“Obviously, there are a number of challenges and I believe we all need to look at where we are in terms of sustainability, ensure we can future-proof our industry in a number of different ways and address some of the concerns consumers have on this issue.”

Rimmer also urged the industry to address concerns around the sharing of data. This was after TFWA President Alain Maingreaud did not present the customary Generation-Research supplied snapshot on the state of the global industry.

“It is a constant battle and I have the utmost respect for the various data providers including Generation Research in particular, which have done a lot of good work over many years. We have got to a stage where we think the data we have is not robust enough to make us feel really confident about it.”






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