Global Industry Survey marks 20 years with snapshots from the archives

By Faye Bartle |

Global Industry Survey 2024

TRBusiness’ revered Global Industry Survey is marking its milestone 20th anniversary in 2024 and we’re delving into the archives for a look at the trailblazing inaugural edition.

The ‘Exclusive Industry Survey’, as it was first known in 2004, attracted high-level support from the outset, with comments from well-known industry leaders that seasoned travel retail stakeholders will know.

Among those featured were Dubai Duty Free’s Colm McLoughlin, Gunnar Heinemann, the legendary Harry Diehl (formerly of Gebr. Heinemann), John Brocklebank of The Nuance Group (now WDF/Avolta), Ambroise Fondeur of Aelia Group, Sue Walker of Britannia Airways (which ceased operations in 2005) – and many more.

Their insightful comments provide a snapshot in time of the duty free and travel retail (DF&TR) industry and the various challenges and opportunities on the radar.

When asked to reveal the most important economic or socio-political factors expected to influence their business over the next 12 months, respondents to the 2004 survey cited “the no-frills airline boom”, “the WHO action against duty free tobacco sales”, the enlargement of the EU and the associated tax free shopping implications, the “threat of international terrorism”, the war in Iraq and “the threat of SARS and bird flu”, among other considerations.

Global Industry Survey 2024

A snapshot of the inaugural TRBusiness Industry Survey in the January 2024 issue.

“The no-frills airline boom is certainly a positive factor for our business, as it brings new customers on a more frequent basis into our airport shops, even though their travel budgets are not very high,” commented Harry Diehl.

Meanwhile, Michel De Rouck and Myriam Windey of Brussels Airport flagged the impact of the EU enlargement: “[The] EU extension on 1.5.2004 will be positive for travel to and from new Member States; Brussels, as the capital of Europe, will be enhanced,” they said, citing that “the negative aspect is tax free abolition for those already existing passengers to these 10 countries.”

A number of comments referenced the industry’s reaction to the impact of SARS, bringing to mind parallels with more recent sentiments shared following the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I do believe that there is a worldwide need for positive thinking and a general interest to travel again. Major negative impacts to this could again be terror attacks and SARS, scaring people from travelling and making them choose to stay at home,” said Gunnar Heinemann.

Looking at hopes for shifts in business in 2004, this quote from Ambroise Fondeur, Aelia Group, stands out: “The dream would be if all parties intervening in the industry, meaning airports, retail operators and vendors, were to focus and work towards the same objective: how to better serve the traveller.

“We very strongly believe that there is much more value to be generated for all parties by focusing on the customer than by each fighting for our own short-term – and sometimes political – interests. There is only one actor that can ensure the success of the Travel Retail Industry: the customer. We are seeing progress. But there is still a long way to go.”

Global Industry Survey 2024

Nigel Hardy, Co-Owner & Joint Chief Executive Officer, TRBusiness and the Global Industry Survey 20th anniversary edition logo.

“It is fascinating to see how the Global Industry Survey has grown over two decades,” said Nigel Hardy, Co-Owner & Joint Chief Executive Officer, TRBusiness.

“It is one of TRBusiness’ most widely read reports of the year, and it’s easy to understand why. The Global Industry Survey is an essential temperature check on the state of the industry, drawing upon the business intelligence of duty free and travel retail stakeholders around the world to create a data-rich and insight-packed editorial for the benefit of the industry as a whole.

“Furthermore, it’s a vital reference tool for stakeholders at all levels and a valuable source of information that can be utilised as a reference tool throughout the year to help inform decision-making.

“We are looking forward to releasing our milestone 2024 edition in the January ezine and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all those who have taken the time to air their views – your comments are highly valued.”

Stakeholders have until 11am GMT on Thursday 4 January 2024 to take part in the 2024 survey.

It takes just 15 minutes, on average, to complete, thanks to our streamlined online portal.

Global Industry Survey 2024

The TRBusiness Global Industry Survey, January 2023.

The 2024 edition put ‘six basic questions’ to stakeholders whereas the 2024 edition contains a thought-provoking lineup of 11 questions, covering pertinent talking points, such as factors influencing spend per passenger and conversations around minimum annual guarantees.

As is customary, the report will include responses from leading retail CEOs, associations, airport operators and a broad cross section of other travel retail stakeholders.

TRBusiness urges you to take part and join the high-profile roster of DF&TR stakeholders who will be featured in our coverage in the TRBusiness January 2024 ezine and/or online at


Luke-Barras-Hill, Editorial Director, TRBusiness.

“As the responses roll in for the landmark 2024 survey – thank you to all those who have taken part so far – it has been wonderful to look back at our early print coverage, led by former TRBusiness Managing Editor Doug Newhouse,” said TRBusiness Editorial Director Luke Barras-Hill.

“The responses highlight the resilience of the travel retail industry in the face of major challenges, and how stakeholders have rallied through the years to protect and strengthen their business in the channel, and the industry as a whole.

“As global travel retail enters its pivotal year of recovery, following the pandemic, we urge you to take part in the 2024 Global Industry Survey and make your voice heard.”

TRBusiness would like to thank all those who have participated, as well as those who are planning to over the next few weeks, for their vital support.

READ MORE: Global Industry Survey 2024 now live: Make your voice heard

READ MORE: NOW LIVE: January e-zine & Global Industry Survey

READ MORE: Global Industry Survey 2023: Gauging trading expectations & challenges

READ MORE: Global Industry Survey social poll results revealed


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