TR Question Time: James Prescott, Harding Retail

By Luke Barras-hill |

James-Prescott-TRQTmainIn the latest episode of the innovative Travel Retail Question Time video series sponsored by Nestlé International Travel Retail, TRBusiness directs questions on the burgeoning cruise retail sector to James Prescott, Managing Director at Harding Retail.

[Click below to watch the video, filmed on location at this month’s TFWA World Exhibition & Conference].

With cruise travel booming globally – Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) reports that 28.5m people took a cruise in 2018 and that number is tipped to grow to 30 million in 2019 as an estimated 118 new cruise lines take to the seas by 2027 – discussion surrounding ways to exploit retail spending from an increasingly versatile and discerning cruise traveller is critical for retailers and suppliers alike.

Harding Retail is at the forefront of this bustling and competitive onboard retail scene, which is characterised by a seemingly endless multitude of new ship contracts and ambitious refurbishment and renovation projects, as retailers battle to increase market share, enter new territories and – most importantly – attract new customers.

The experienced former Allders International, World Duty Free and Aer Rianta International executive shares some unique insight into what it takes for brands to break into – and get noticed – in cruise retail.


He said: “Put yourself in the mind of the guest on a ship and imagine if you were there for a week, what sort of product and experience would you want? If you think your product has something that can really add value, then that is a good start.

“A few brands I’ve seen [at TFWA Cannes] have been phenomenal, brands that aren’t just about products on the shelf at a price, but brands which can integrate and embed themselves more with the whole cruise experience, whether it is food & beverage, in cabin, or taking the product out of the confines of the shop.

“When you come to present the brands or if you’re interested, ask if the brand has something that adds value to the guest.”


James Prescott, Managing Director, Harding Retail: “It really surprises and disappoints me still that a lot of new products have vast amounts of plastic. Increasingly we are rejecting products that are excessively wrapped.”

Aside discussing the ‘Brexit effect’ on business, the Harding Retail MD dives in to a familiar topic that TRBusiness hopes will gain more and more passionate voices in the months and year(s) to come: sustainability.

He says the cruise retailer has recently invested in new plastic wrapping material to secure its pallets.

All the pallets themselves are now made from 100% recycled wood and Prescott says single-use plastics are virtually obsolete throughout the company’s supply chain. It has also established an in-office ‘eco-squad’ to tackle materials in the workplace deemed detrimental to the environment.

“It really surprises and disappoints me still that a lot of new products have vast amounts of plastic. Increasingly we are rejecting products that are excessively wrapped.”

Travel Retail Question Time addresses the pressing industry questions viewers want answered – on camera.

These questions are submitted, voted on and shortlisted prior to the interview. TRBusiness has no influence on the selection process or the nature of the questions posed to the interviewee.

Stewart Dryburgh, Nestlé International Travel Retail General Manager, tells readers (below) why the company believes so strongly in this new video interview format.

To view previous editions of Travel Retail Question Time, click the below links.

Julie Lassaigne, Secretary General, European Travel Retail Confederation

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