Blog: Andy MortonTax Free World Association - Day three: Beam Suntory's big boat and Patron's virtual home

Andy Morton | 22 October 2015

The TFWA show will end on Friday

The TFWA show will end on Friday

just-drinks is in Cannes this week at the Tax Free World Association show. Here's the third part of Andy Morton's blog, which will keep you up-to-date at one of the most important dates in the Travel Retail calendar.

  • It is just-drinks' final day in Cannes but the exhibitors will be here right the way through till Friday - an exhausting week, especially for those who find their way to the marina and the after-show parties on the corporate yachts. Last night, Beam Suntory held a packed gathering on its boat, where David Wilson, the company's MD for global Travel Retail, was enjoying his expanded role. Wilson was previously Morrison Bowmore's sales & marketing director before it was consumed into Beam Suntory as part of the Beam Inc takeover. So what has changed for him? Well, although Morrison Bowmore had a boat in Cannes, the Beam Suntory one is, rather fittingly, a lot bigger.
  • I asked Wilson how he was reconciling having to handle two Islay whiskies, now that Suntory's Laphroaig has joined Bowmore in his portfolio. As you might expect, he's very happy with the situation, though he was at pains to point out that under the Beam Suntory structure both brands get equal billing. He said he is especially pleased, as peated expressions are a growing part of the Scotch category, which may be why the industry has seen so many of them released in the past few months. At Cannes, William Grant & Sons released a peated Grant's six-year-old, while Pernod Ricard this month launched its first peated Glenlivet in decades.
  • There was time in the morning to visit the Patron team, who are offering visitors to their stand a virtual trip around the Patron distillery and hacienda in Tequila. I'd already experienced the immersive virtual-reality tour a few months ago but Patron's international president, also called David Wilson, said it was getting a lot of attention in Cannes. Apparently, other TFWA exhibitors have been asking where they can get their own one created, though many quickly lost interest when Wilson told them how much it cost. Apparently, virtual worlds don't come cheap.
  • TFWA's president, Erik Juul Mortensen, didn't pull his punches in his opening speech on Monday, unveiling figures that showed the Travel Retail sector, including wines & spirits, to be in decline. “I like to think I was being realistic,” he tells me when I catch up with him during lunch. Despite the poor statistics, Mortensen remains upbeat about Travel Retail as a whole and alcohol in particular, a sector he knows a lot about as a former head of Maxxium Travel Retail, the distribution JV between Edrington, Beam Inc and Remy Cointreau that was dissolved this year. “I see the liquor companies doing some wonderful things with their marketing,” he said. “They have really stepped up to the challenges we are facing.”
  • With the sun shining in Cannes, it is difficult to imagine that it was the scene of serious flooding just two weeks before TFWA began. At least 20 people died when violent storms lashed the southern French coast, and to hear Mortensen tell it, we are lucky to be having the exhibition at all. He described torrents of water rushing down the streets of Cannes into the Palais des Festivals, where it flooded the car park. It is a testament to the hard work of the exhibition hall's owners that there is no sign of any flood damage at all. And though most of Cannes' hotels and homes seem to be without Wifi, the Palais des Festivals' ran smoothly from the start.

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