BELGIUM/EUROPE. The European Travel Retail Confederation (ETRC) held its Annual Business Forum on 25 January in Brussels, where it outlined its plans to secure and grow travel retail in the region.

The event attracted over 120 industry representatives – the highest attendance to date – at the Brussels Airport Sheraton hotel. The Forum focused on key challenges and opportunities for the channel.

The ETRC is leading several industry initiatives on issues such as product labelling and consumer information, transport security, Brexit and category-specific challenges.

During the event, the ETRC presented what it called a “truly ground-breaking off-the label solution” developed to meet demands for the provision of information to consumers across several product categories.

Product labelling challenges, transport security and Brexit were high on the agenda at the ETRC Annual Business Forum

“We are working on a pilot project that would allow consumers to scan the barcode of a product using their mobile phone or an instore device (tablet, kiosk) and have access to a digital platform which would provide the mandatory product information in multiple languages,” ETRC Deputy Secretary General Julie Lassaigne told The Moodie Davitt Report.

“It’s a fascinating project and response to the issue of increasing labelling requirements – in Europe and elsewhere – across pretty much all the product categories sold in duty free and travel retail.”

If accepted at EU level, it is expected to be taken up more widely outside travel retail, the ETRC said

The ETRC is also navigating industry challenges related to certain parties’ public health agendas, which have seen tobacco and confectionery under scrutiny and now encompass alcohol and beauty.

Keynote speaker Olivier Jankovec, Director General of Airport Council International Europe, highlighted challenges to the European aviation industry

Airport Council International Europe Director General Olivier Jankovec gave the keynote address, highlighting major issues faced by European airports. These include challenges to the aviation industry in a post-Brexit Europe.

The ETRC, whose members depend on the continued development of traffic and trade between the UK and the European Union, said it supports continued access to the Single Aviation Market for the UK and its participation in the EU Customs Union.

Brexit, due to take place on 29 March 2019, could also result in significant commercial opportunities with the expected return of duty free sales between the UK and the EU. Delegates were given a comprehensive overview of ETRC’s campaign on this issue at both EU and national level.

ETRC President Sarah Branquinho commented: “The exceptionally high attendance at the Forum demonstrates the vitality of the industry and the determination of our members to work with ETRC to deliver solutions which are essential to securing the future of our retail business.”