Nestlé ITR announce GM and industry leader Stewart Dryburgh to retire

By Luke Barras-hill |

Stewart Dryburgh will retire at the end of June following 26 years with Nestlé.

Stewart Dryburgh is set to stand down from his position as General Manager of Nestlé International Travel Retail (NITR) to take early retirement from the end of June.

His replacement, due to be announced shortly, will begin in post on 1 September.

The confectionery industry leader will conclude a working career spanning 38 years, of which 26 have been spent at Nestlé and 12 running the company’s travel retail division.

“I’d like to sincerely thank so many people who have helped along the journey; my wonderful team at Nestlé for their incredible support over the years, our key travel retail partners across the world, our amazing agency and supplier partners, our vital industry associations and of course the invaluable GTR media,” said Dryburgh.

“Travel retail has been a wonderful part of my working journey and I have a plethora of fond memories to take with me. I look forward to staying in touch with all the friends I’ve made through the years.”

Changing the conversation

Having joined joined Nestlé in 1998 in the UK, Dryburgh moved to the international travel retail division in 2002 as General Manager where he drew attention for insisting that the confectionery category – worth an estimated $1.4 billion at the time – could be doubled in five years.

“I saw huge, untapped opportunities for confectionery in travel retail,” commented Dryburgh.  “Thanks to the support and belief both from retailers and other brand owners, we achieved that goal.”

In 2006 he moved to New Delhi to spearhead Nestlé’s confectionery business in South Asia, one of the world’s largest and fastest growing emerging markets.

Nestle KitKat

He returned to Switzerland in 2009 to become Global Brand Director for iconic confection KitKat, helping to accelerate its profile via geographic expansion in Latin America and enhancing consumer and digital engagement, which included an Android KitKat tie-up with Google in 2013.

Dryburgh moved back to the travel retail arena in 2016 where he successfully navigated the business through the Covid-19 crisis.

More recently, he has been vocal about Nestlé ITR’s ambition to turn food into the number one most purchased category in travel retail.

“When we compared category performance, we saw that food (including confectionery) was at best flat in GTR but in very healthy value growth in domestic,” said Dryburgh.

“In addition confectionery was 77% of food sales in travel retail, whilst it was only 7% in domestic. Subsequent bespoke research with travellers, in particular led by the fast growing millennial and Gen Z groups across all key nationalities confirmed a clear opportunity to accelerate food category growth.

“In practical terms over the past two years we have begun to execute concepts beyond confectionery, encompassing wellbeing, coffee and sustainability instore. The results are extremely promising with the latest industry data showing food category penetration accelerating quickly from 30% to 37% of baskets. Food is quickly closing in on the #1 most frequently purchased category, well ahead of our anticipated timeline.”

Over the years, Dryburgh has been a strong supporter of industry conferences, including the TR Consumer Forum, TR Sustainability Week and inaugural Trinity Forum.

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