By and  on October 22, 2010

CANNES, France — Jean-Paul Agon, chief executive officer of market leader L’Oréal, came to this seaside town Monday to deliver the opening speech at the Tax Free World Association’s annual gathering. In the process, he gave the $34.5 billion travel retail industry a glimpse of its future.

Citing dramatic shifts in global affluence and population migration, Agon delivered his punch line: “Travel is the ultimate retail business of the future.” Noting that the U.S. has been the leading power since the end of World War II, Agon asserted, “We are now entering the Asian century, as China takes over.” He described this seismic shift in both financial and demographic terms. Later, Agon reiterated the point that 2009 was the first year when more than 50 percent of the market was in emerging countries and 90 percent of the world’s growth in the first six months of that year stemmed from them.

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