FDFA 2018 General Operators Meeting opening session: FDFA President Abe Taqtaq reviews past year with pride and optimism

FDFA President Abe Taqtaq, of Windsor-Detroit Tunnel Duty Free Shop, opened the 2018 Operator General meeting with a very upbeat welcome.

“This year I am more excited and optimistic to open our meeting knowing what is in store for the FDFA future,” he said, discussing the enthusiasm and accomplishments of the current Board of Directors, which was elected two years ago.

Taqtaq recalled that the board had defined clear mandates at its first post-election strategic planning session, which were shared with the membership at its 2017 semi-annual meeting in Toronto.

These mandates would take the FDFA back to its primary and core responsibilities, said Taqtaq.

They were:


  1. Operating and delivering a convention that would bring together the industry once a year with a goal to bring value to all attendees that includes retailers, suppliers and all stakeholders, as well as try and grow the convention to include airports and others;
  2. Focus on government relations and ensure that FDFA uses a strategy that brings certainty as well as positive relationships with federal government agencies, ministries and stakeholders at various levels of government;
  3. Review all aspects of the association’s operations in order to deliver value and efficiency to the membership;
  4. And lastly, increase membership to 100% participation from all operators.


Tania Lee, chairperson of
the 2018 FDFA convention,
at the spectacular chocolate buffet created by Guylian Chocolate and DFX following the Gold Standard Award Gala dinner in Toronto.

“As we look back at these goals, today I can proudly say that this board has worked extremely well together, and delivered the best results in recent memory. We will represent your interests whenever the opportunity arises,” he said, personally thanking Board members Tania Lee, Philippe Bachand, Simon Resch and Cam Bissonnette for their dedication and results, followed by a huge vote of appreciation to FDFA Operations Manager Allison Boucher for her hard work, work ethic and all the convention logistics.

On that same theme of people assets, Taqtaq introduced new Executive Director Barbara Barrett, citing her experience with non-profits, and associations, and Huw Williams, president of Impact Public Affairs, PR strategist, representing the association in government relations.

“Our Convention theme for this year being collaboration and innovation, our new format is designed to fully engage our suppliers.

“It is an opportunity to fully understand and implement their strategies (suppliers),” said Taqtaq as he thanked all the sponsors.




Best Canadian Airport Duty Free Company – AerRianta Internat’l


Platinum (Land Border) –A – Abbotsford Duty Free


Platinum (Land Border) –B – Blue Water Bridge Duty Free

Blue Water Bridge Duty Free


Duty Free Distributor/ Agent of the Year – Distribution Fontaine


The team from Distribution Fontaine won the Best Large Distributor award.


Supplier of the Year – Small Havana House Cigar & Tobacco


Supplier of the Year – Large – Turkey Hill Sugarbush Ltd.


Best Marketing Award- Sault Ste. Marie Duty Free Store


Best New Idea Award – Importations Guay Ltée


Outstanding Land Border Duty Free Employee of the Year – Wilma (Willie) Deplonty

Sault Ste. Marie Duty Free


Outstanding Airport Duty Free Employee of the Year – Vanessa Wong, The Loop DF, Montreal


Best New Fragrance/Beauty Pro-duct – Dolce&Gabbana Light blue Italian Zest,  DFX Distribution/BHI


Simon Roffe of Whitley Neill Handcrafted Dry Gin and Haleybrooke International’s Roger Thompson celebrate their win for the FDFA’s Best New Spirit of the Year.

Best New Spirit/Tobacco/Beer Whitley Neill Handcrafted Dry Gin, Haleybrooke International


Best Specialty Product- Confectionery: Maple Cream Cookies, Turkey Hill Sugarbush


Best Specialty Product- Jewelry, Watches, Handbags and Acces. Swatch Watches,

Swatch Group Canada