INTERNATIONAL. The Duty Free World Council (DFWC) Academy has taken the first steps in fulfilling its strategy of establishing professional standards for the industry.

The Academy is initially concentrating on frontline retail staff and product specialists at onboarding, supervisory and shop management levels. At the beginning of August it hosted a two-day workshop to discuss and create a first draft for three professional standards – shop floor assistants that work across a variety of product categories, and fragrance and tobacco product specialists.

Representatives from airport retailers and tobacco and fragrance suppliers contributed to the process.


Back row left to right: Tom Moroney (Caroline South Associates), Marcus Griffin (Dufry), Gerry Brown (People 1st), Frank O’Connell (DFWC), Mike Rogers (People 1st), Markus Stauss (Coty) and Mihai Nagit (JTI). Front row left to right: Kate Whittles (Imperial Tobacco), Vasiliki Vasilopoulou (Helenic Duty Free Shops), Frankie Gair and Christine Martin (TRT), Joyce Popall (Kappe International), Ruth Pugh (People 1st) and Montana Chan (DFS)

Over the next 12 months the DFWC Academy said it would work with national retail skills council People 1st to set industry professional standards for other key product category specialisations. These will include cosmetics, skincare, liquor, confectionery & fine foods and wine & champagne.

“As [frontline staff] are the ‘face’ of our industry and have an enormous amount of influence on footfall conversion rates, the overall customer service experience, basket size and transactional value, their development and recognition are essential and crucial to the success of any retail organisation,” the DFWC Academy stated.

The Academy announced its initial strategy following a meeting at this year’s TFWA Asia Pacific Exhibition & Conference in Singapore, where DFWC President Frank O’Connell was named as chair. An incoming board was also established.

The organisation has set out to:

  • create and set professional standards which clearly describe the values, behaviours, knowledge and skills required to be effective in a specific role;
  • produce a quality mark which enables organisations to benchmark their training programmes against the professional standards;
  • create an assessment plan to gauge competence;
  • provide accreditation for excellence relating to training delivery; and,
  • award certification at three levels (foundation, competence and outstanding).

The Academy said it was still scoping out membership types, values and benefits and hopes to publish these shortly. It will also soon launch its own website, which will feature a ‘member’s area’ where those who have reached certification level can create an e-portfolio to demonstrate their knowledge and skills competency. Additionally, when phase two is completed, they will be able to participate in and benefit from the Academy’s web-based social learning app.

The Academy also intends to create a certified online programme providing an introduction to the duty free and travel retail industry for those who are new to the industry and for companies seeking to enter the business.

A medium to long term goal is the development of a Business Administration in Duty Free and Travel Retail Masters degree.

Footnote: Travel Retail Training has been appointed as the Academy’s management company. For more information, Managing Director Christine Martin can be contacted by email at or by telephone at +44 (0) 7811 372891.