When the coronavirus pandemic essentially shut down international travel, Duty Free Global doubled down on its core travel retail business. Duty Free Global Founder & Commercial Director Barry Geoghegan tells TMI that as wine and spirits duty free specialists to travel retailers worldwide, DFG did not pivot to domestic markets. “Duty Free is what we do,” says Geoghegan.
“We were in the eye of the storm, stuck in the middle of it. We don’t have the pivot ability to do domestic.
“We are completely focused. We didn’t divert our attention. We decided that when you are a niche player, you make two choices. You either try to be a jack of all trades and master of none. Or you become really good at your niche. I decided to take a deeper dive into this channel.”
Geoghegan says that by sticking to the travel retail channel Duty Free Global has become “expert industry specialists.”
“The only pivot we did was spend more of our time understanding the next generational tools, the digital tools. We got more into research and the passenger profile, why certain things work in certain cultures, why Hainan is different than Hong Kong International.
“From a digital viewpoint we are now more equipped to give sincere direction and guidance to brand partners and operators as to what is more likely to work.”
One small advancement for Duty Free Global was the creation of a company LinkedIn page, which has expanded its audience as it tells the stories of its brands.
“I’ve had stories on LinkedIn that attracted 15,000 views. And that’s all happened in the last 12 months,” says Geoghegan.
“Our message was going to one selected partner, such as the buyer, now it goes to the buyer plus the assistant buyer plus the marketing team to the logistics team. All of a sudden our reach, and our message, and our brand story went from the one decision maker to the entire team. We’ve expanded the community. It is a much more democratic stakeholder now that understands what we do.”
Geoghegan tells TMI that as the industry faced never before seen challenges this year it was important that Duty Free Global worked to be part of the solution.
In October, Geoghegan became a member of the TFWA Management Committee. This follows Geoghegan’s earlier involvement as a member of the Academy Advisory Group (AAG) for Duty Free World Council (DFWC).
“I personally made the decision to get more involved in trying to help the industry. I want to be part of the recovery not wait for the recovery to happen. It’s important to be at every event. It’s important to give support. We’re all in this game together.
“I think to be a supporter of a channel you need to be a participant. You need to be proactive.”
Geoghegan says he has duty free in his blood and he tries to support the industry in any way he can, whether through serving on committees, supporting charities, or attending events.
“I think we at Duty Free Global are sincerely duty free people. We really do have the channel in our DNA. My father was the very first employee of Aer Rianta International Business Development,” he says.
“Understanding people and understanding cultures is something that we pride ourselves in. As far as I am concerned good people are good people. For me it is all family values, be it the duty free family or your own family. It’s not about building empires. It’s about building networks. And the network will not come to you. You need to come to the network.”
Geoghegan’s networks now stretch throughout the world and he plans for more growth this year.
“I called the company Duty Free Global because I didn’t want to be a regional player. I will try my best to find an appropriate assortment or portfolio that will work for each culture. It will not be one size fits all. Some things translate globally, but some things don’t.”
He notes that the company currently has team members based in Switzerland, Belgium, the UK, Hong Kong and four in Ireland. The goal this year is to expand the company’s expertise in the Americas.
“For every brand partner we can speak to the decision makers regionally. My short term goal is to fill the gap in North and South America. We are very happy with our European, Middle East, and AsiaPAC presence. We need to complete the geographies of the key duty free locations. This year’s goal is to finalize North and South America. We know the operators, but to date we have not had people in the territories. Our intention is to square that circle.
“We want to give the best service to our brand partners. We can be both global and niche at the same time. Even though we deal with the global operators our sales director Nathalie Roelands knows the difference between what Dufry does in Europe and what Dufry does in Brazil.”
Virtual Summit of the Americas
Following its successful Platinum sponsorship of October’s Virtual Travel Retail Expo, Duty Free Global is a Gold sponsor for the Virtual Summit of the Americas.
The company will be showcasing its spirits portfolio focusing on six brands: the new MOB33 Gold Heist Premium Rum, Beau Joie Champagne, Gunpowder Irish Gin, House of Somrus, Death’s Door Gin, and RumChata.
Duty Free Global signed an agreement with Legacy Brands last month to launch MOB33 Gold Heist rum into the global duty free markets. The new rum is a blend of 5, 3 and 2 year old Latin American and Caribbean Golden Rums.
MOB33 has “added a splash of the infamous Jamaican funk to the blend of Dominican Republic and Venezuelan Rums and have fused these, for a light, Spanish style, with the vivid flavors and character of Rum from Barbados,” says the company.
Last September, Duty Free Global added Death’s Door Gin and House of Somrus to its spirits portfolio.
Death’s Door Gin is an award winning American-made Gin made using only three botanicals: Juniper, Coriander and Fennel.
‘Inspired by India, made for the world’, rum-based cream liqueur Somrus is made with real dairy cream and 5x distilled handcrafted rum. At the Virtual Summit of the Americas, Geoghegan says House of Somrus is sponsoring the Virtual Coffee breaks, bringing participants on a coffee culture trip across the Americas with the Sadekar sisters, now well-known from the Virtual Travel Retail Expo last year. The Somrus Coffee Breaks will offer golf tips and style advice to Expo visitors in between Knowledge Hub sessions.
“Somrus Coffee is already really popping. They’ve taken on a very experienced team to build that business,” says Geoghegan. “Gunpowder Gin is on fire in the U.S. It is the fifth fastest growing ultra-premium gin in the U.S. according to Nielsen data. It’s a player. Beau Joie Champagne, based in Las Vegas, is on fire for us as well.”
To end off the Virtual Summit of the Americas, Duty Free Global is sponsoring a Virtual Club Americas on 5 pm Thursday April 8 in the Engagement Lounge.