NORDIC REGION. A ban on tobacco display in Norwegian duty free could be in force by October this year, if, as expected, new tobacco legislation is voted into law by the country’s Parliament. The planned new legislation was one of the key issues discussed this week at the latest meeting of the Nordic Travel Retail Group, which represents the interests of concessionaires, brand owners, airports, airlines and ferry operators in the Nordic region.

The Norwegian problem was addressed at the meeting by Travel Retail Norway Managing Director Morten Evjen. He said that Parliament was expected to legislate for a display ban on tobacco by Easter, with an implementation period of six months. This means tobacco would be removed from all public display by October.

The Moodie Report has subsequently learned just how severe the display restrictions are likely to be. On the domestic market, retailers of tobacco would have to apply for a special licence to sell tobacco, and these licences would probably be restricted to specialist outlets and (possibly) the country’s biggest retail chains. But petrol stations and newsagents would be unlikely to get permission to retail tobacco.

Norwegian travel retail is likely to have to implement a model similar to that in place in another Nordic state, Iceland. Retailers would have to create a stand-alone room in their stores for tobacco, with frosted, not clear glass, so customers could not see inside. No advertising would be permitted.

Nordic Travel Retail Group Chairman Erik Thomsen told The Moodie Report: “Both Travel Retail Norway and the Nordic Travel Retail Group have made representations on this issue to decision-makers, but there is no chance of an exemption for duty free. What we are doing now is trying to find the best possible solution for the trade, and the ‘Icelandic’ model looks like the best we can hope for from this. What stakeholders in other countries need to do now is to maintain contact with their politicians, so that Norway does not set an example that is followed elsewhere.”

Last week’s meeting also heard from JTI Corporate Affairs & Communication Worldwide Duty Free Santiago Llairó. He said the industry needed to coordinate its response to challenges such as display bans, and highlighted other issues, such as labelling, that could affect the business.

The meeting was hosted by Heinemann-Saether Group at its headquarter in Farum, north of Copenhagen. Heinemann-Saether is the Nordic distributor of more than 45 international brands in the sectors of cosmetics, fragrances and accessories.

The meeting heard a presentation on the company from Founder Ellinor Saether, together with Director Tage Finninge and Director of the Travel Retail Division, Kim Aakjaer.

The Nordic Travel Retail Group will next meet for its Annual General Assembly on 14 April 14. On 28 May it hosts the annual Nordic Travel Retail Seminar. The theme of the Seminar will be “Ten years after – ten years ahead”, a reference to how the travel retail industry has fared since the abolition of intra-EU duty free in 1999. The Seminar will be moderated by The Moodie Report.



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