MEA ‘regaining ground’ in recovery, says MEADFA

By Luke Barras-hill |

Toulan addressed the low vaccination uptake in countries across Africa during his address to delegates at the MEADFA Conference. Source: MEADFA.

While the Middle East and Africa suffered an average drop in DF&TR turnover of -70% in 2020, TRBusiness has learned that the region is steadily clawing back ground.

In a recent interview with Middle East & Africa Duty Free Association (MEADFA) President Sherif Toulan, available in the TRBusiness November special edition e-zine, this publication heard that there are suppliers in some countries in North Africa that are set to supersede 2019 revenue figures.

“Overall, I anticipate that the whole area will [this year] close around -25% on 2019,” commented Toulan. “The majority of suppliers are doing much better than anticipated. Most of the numbers we are doing in 2021 are expected of the suppliers and operators in 2022.

“The expectation in general for 2021 was -45%, to -20% in 2022, and hopefully back to 2019 [levels] in 2023. The recovery is much faster in our region.”

Sherif Toulan, President, MEADFA. Source: MEADFA.

STABILITY INDICATORS

While the Middle East and Africa remains volatile, macro-economically and geo-politically, Toulan views the influential players – Saudi Arabia and Egypt for example – as remaining stable in the coming years, which reflects positively on DF&TR.

During a wide-ranging conversation, the MEADFA President – elected in March – outlined a vision that he hopes will steer the association to new ground, evolve its advocacy powers and organisational structure, while enhancing the way it represents its members.

With regards to advocacy specifically, Toulan identified two majors threats to travel retail: category-based challenges (liquor, tobacco, confectionery etc), and not offering relevance to industry stakeholders.

To address this, MEADFA is making moves to strengthen its internal structures and operating process.

During last week’s MEADFA Conference in Dubai, TRBusiness reported on the association’s decision to introduce dedicated category taskforces covering tobacco, liquor and confectionery – each face their own respective challenges – to anchor the Advocacy Working Group.

Rita Chidiac, Corporate Affairs and Communications Manager Worldwide Duty Free for JTI continues to supervise the Working Group in her role as MEADFA General Secretary.

Last week’s MEADFA Conference hosted more than 460 delegates to the Jumeirah Creekside Hotel in Dubai, with close to 100 connecting via conference livestream on TFWA 365. Source: MEADFA.

The creation of such a structure, importantly, avoids a conflict-of-interest scenario where individuals associated with categories such as tobacco are removed from the responsibility of advocating on behalf of them.

Elsewhere, MEADFA has in recent months created a new membership committee chaired by Organico Solutions Managing Director Roger Jackson, who is also a MEADFA Board Member and representative of the wines & spirits category.

One of Dufry’s concession’s in North Africa. Source: Dufry.

“I would not say we are out of the [crisis] woods,” Toulan added. “We cannot fall back to old ways, but use this occasion to diversify the way we do business and re- think the model.”

To read the full interview, click here.

For MEADFA Conference coverage, click here.

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