Heinemann Americas talks cruise opportunities with wellness a top trend

By Faye Bartle |

Nicolas Hoeborn

Heinemann Americas MD Nicolas Hoeborn.

Heinemann Americas is going full steam ahead on cruise channel growth, with a focus on ramping up its retail and distribution and plans to capitalise on emerging trends such as wellness. Managing Director Nicolas Hoeborn brings TRBusiness firmly up to date in this exclusive interview.

Heinemann Americas is already making waves this year, with a stand-out retail offering (comprising 14 venues) unveiled onboard Royal Caribbean’s mega cruise ship, Icon of the Seas, offering everything from a first-at-sea Omega boutique to a coveted array of certified pre-owned luxury goods.

The shopping experience onboard the highly anticipated ship is the result of a 2019 tender win for the Miami-based company, which is a 100% subsidiary of Gebr. Heinemann.

It’s also the fourth Royal Caribbean ship awarded to Heinemann Americas (which currently operates onboard Wonder of the Seas, Odyssey of the Seas and Independence of the Seas) and marks the third new build launched by the travel retailer since the onset of the pandemic. However, it’s just a slice of what’s to come.

“We definitely want to continue our growth in 2024, both in retail and distribution,” Nicolas Hoeborn, Managing Director, Heinemann Americas explained to TRBusiness.

“We have just successfully launched Icon of the Seas and are proud to offer great shopping on the world’s largest cruise ship. Of course, there is more to come throughout the year. We are very excited about it and will share more when the time is right.”

Waves of opportunity

In the region, Heinemann Americas is a retail and wholesale partner for more than 45 vessels, manages more than 40,000sq ft of warehouse space and has 22,000+ active skus in its Miami warehouse.

Heinemann Americas Icon of the Seas

Heinemann Americas’ Regalia Fine Watches store onboard Icon of the Seas.

The cruise and ferries market accounted for a 5% share of Gebr. Heinemann’s group turnover (including retail and distribution) of €3.8 billion in 2022, and Heinemann Americas is set to focus on developing the cruise channel for the “next one to two years”.

“That is where we see the most growth,” reasoned Hoeborn. “The fact that there are globally about 70 ships planned through 2027 shows that there is a lot of opportunity in this space.”

He added: “We are very confident that the positive trend in the cruise industry will continue. If you look at the number of cruise ships that are being built and will be launched in the coming years, it is clear that this is a growth market.

“In this exciting area, we want to establish Heinemann Americas as a key player in all channels of the cruise industry. Our main goal is to provide customer service that benefits not only the end consumer, but also the distribution customer.

“If we provide the right service, customers will want to do business with us. We are very flexible when it comes to partnerships and business models and are always able to develop individual solutions with our customers.”

Powered by data

Offering shoppers “added value” helps to differentiate the retail offering, aided by a streamlined journey to shelf.

Heinemann Americas Icon of the Seas

Vintage fashion accessories and certified pre-owned luxury plays a key role in Heinemann Americas’ retail offering onboard Icon of the Seas.

“One opportunity is certainly our well-functioning supply chain,” said Hoeborn. “This is not something that can be taken for granted, given the recent problems with product delivery. Many of our competitors are still struggling with this. We work to always offer the best service level in this area and are very successful in doing so.”

Crafting engaging, personalised shopping experiences is informed by consumer insights.

“Of course, we monitor emerging consumer trends and adapt our portfolio accordingly,” said Hoeborn.

“To name just one, wellness will play an increasingly important role in the P&C sector. Passengers are interested not only in fragrances, but also in nutritional supplements, juices, UV masks, and anything else that promotes health and beauty.

“With our human-centric approach, we are perfectly positioned to meet their needs with high-quality products.”

Leveraging customer data to tailor the retail offering to better suit different demographics also plays a key role.

“Customer data is obviously critical to our business,” said Hoeborn. “However, in a competitive market, we are in a unique position with our data set: We work with virtually every cruise line, either as a retailer or as a distributor. What we learn on the distribution side we can apply to the retail side and vice versa. We see very quickly which brands work best and what passengers want and can react to it, based on solid data.”

A version of this feature first appeared in the TRBusiness March/April 2024 issue, as part of the annual Leading Americas Operators report. Click here to read the ezine.

READ MORE: Heinemann confirms allocation of 14 stores aboard Icon of the Seas

READ MORE: Heinemann Americas to set sail with 14 shops on Icon of the Seas in January

READ MORE: Heinemann retail at €3.1bn; Group turnover up 81%

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