IAADFS’ Riedi: ‘New frontier’ airport technology is conduit to higher spends

By Luke Barras-hill |

Video Riedi-frontalshot-Cannes19

The new border shop business in Brazil ‘fundamentally changes’ the landscape of duty free in South America, according to René Riedi, Chairman, IAADFS.

International Association of Airport and Duty Free Stores (IAADFS) Chairman René Riedi says the association is tracking with interest technology developments at airports that raise the possibility of increasing dwell time and spending in the terminals.

The advent of 3D baggage imaging equipment, mooted in the UK for example, has raised the possibility of transforming entirely security screening processes, making it more simplified and streamlined.

Speaking to TRBusiness during the recent TFWA World Exhibition & Conference [click below], Riedi said: “Now we have new technology coming, I think that will help in the screening process at security checkpoints.

“We as an association look forward very much to these new technologies being introduced as quickly as possible. We understand these come with heavy investments, but what they do is shorten the time at security checkpoints and increase dwell time airside, which helps us to bring people into stores and increase average spending.

CHINESE AVERAGE SPEND DROP

He continued: “For us this is important. We understand it will not come tomorrow, but what might facilitate the introduction of these new technologies – and this is a global challenge we face – is [the move towards] paper bags. This will be a critical as it may lead to the introduction of new technologies and eliminate STEBs [Security Tamper-Evident Bags] as they are obviously plastic and cannot be different.”

A wide-ranging interview touches on the seismic effects of global macroeconomic policy and geopolitical disputes on duty free in the Americas; the revamped Summit of the Americas; tobacco and aviation security issues; the new Brazilian border shops regime and the association’s important advocacy role.

Responding to recent ACI World data showing North America experienced more moderated passenger traffic growth (+2.9%) in the first six months of 2019, Riedi expressed his satisfaction with the airport duty free shops trade.

“We’ve had a couple of challenging years, with some economic and political issues keeping us on our toes, but we are capitalising now on market know-how. We are very pleased with the performance and well positioned for where the market is going.”

Discussing the unpredictable trading climate in the US linked to the current administration, consecutive Federal Reserve interest rate cuts, and the snowball effect that is having on international travel and spending, he highlighted ongoing antagonism with China.

“I call it a trade dispute more than a trade war for the time being, but this has an impact on the spending power of the Chinese especially in the west coast of the US, which has an influx of Chinese.

“We are seeing some drop in the average spend. It is difficult to say how much as we are in a cycle and a dynamic situation. The feedback we are getting is it isn’t as dramatic as it may look, but we have to oversee and monitor the situation very carefully.”

For more from IAADFS Chairman Rene Riedi, watch out for the November issue of TRBusiness.

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