Antonin Carreau, global category management director for beauty at Dufry, which generates annual sales of $7.95 billion, discussed business with WWD while at the recent Tax Free World Association convention.
WWD: How has the year been for the company and its beauty activity?
Antonin Carreau: It’s been fantastic. Last year at the same moment we were recovering from a first half that was negative, we were seeing some changes in the trends. It has accelerated this year. Out of 70 markets where we operate, all are positive, most markets are double-digit positive, if not more, whatever the region. We only have two markets that are flattish.
WWD: What is driving the growth?
A.C.: The growth comes from traffic — in quantity and quality — from emerging markets that have recovered from monetary currency crises; phenomenal growth in the U.K., post-Brexit and after the anniversary of Brexit, a very slight deceleration only on the trend but [it keeps] growing; Chinese, across the board. In beauty: specific trends behind all what is high-end in perfume, in skin care and new makeup trends. And again, behind that is predominantly the Chinese consumer.
WWD: Do you see this continuing?
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A.C.: The year is more than secured, so we are very confident. We are confident in a strong year next year, as well.
WWD: What are the biggest challenges?
A.C.: From a category standpoint…it’s about reviewing details and making audits on our assortment and centralizing all of the data to be able to put in place a scientific approach to our assortment management. We have [had] from a brand standpoint an assortment that is too large, essentially due to local brands. And that requires some cleaning. [It is] allowing us to be more agile and improve our speed-to-market.
WWD: What is a key project for Dufry?
A.C.: It’s what we call the new generation of store, which we have started with Madrid and Melbourne, and are now rolling out in Zurich. [It is about] putting in place a store that allows for more and better engagement with our passengers.
The objective is to convert much more of the consumers who are browsing, interested in our categories, but not buying. We have good knowledge, thanks to our insight analysis in 40 of our main airports about the reasons why those passengers are not buying and why.
WWD: How are these stores different?
A.C.: [Their digitalization includes] supporting new communication approaches from a brand standpoint, from a promotional standpoint, from a product innovation standpoint, from a conceptual standpoint. It’s about providing our staff with equipment — like iPads — where they have access to product information and selling tips to deal with the passengers.
It’s about connecting and digital CRM with the passengers before their trip, during their trip, after their trip. It’s about the deployment of the Red loyalty program, with a database that is progressing rapidly and becoming significant. We believe that next year [it] will be six times bigger.
It’s about telling stories, executing promotions, announcing exclusives, prelaunches, engaging with different nationalities, different languages. So it’s bringing agility and flexibility into the store and being very reactive, thanks to the support and the partnership with brands.