Fida Bou Chabke has become the new Rémy Cointreau GTR chief executive

Rémy Cointreau brings in new travel retail boss

27 June, 2023

Rémy Cointreau and Whyte & Mackay have both named new duty free heads as the peak summer travel season heralds a flurry of new exclusives.

As we head into the second half of 2023 there have been some big changes at two major drinks suppliers to travel retail and a string of exciting travel exclusive releases. Hot on the heels of the departure in May of Mohit Lal, the longstanding chairman and chief executive of Pernod Ricard Global Travel Retail, Paris-based Rémy Cointreau and Glasgow-based Whyte & Mackay have both announced new travel retail division chiefs.

Fida Bou Chabke has become the new Rémy Cointreau GTR chief executive, taking over from Adam Hamzah who has left the group to pursue other personal interests. Hailing from Lebanon, Bou Chabke’s back story is intriguing. She originally studied electrical engineering and French literature in Beirut before moving to France to work in a bank. She then entered the wine business as chief executive of wine consultancy Vivelys, part of the Oeneo Group, before joining Rémy Cointreau in 2017 as managing director of Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Chabke, most recently general manager for Louis XIII cognac in the Americas, takes the helm at the company’s travel retail business at an exciting time of revival for the division. In Rémy Cointreau’s most recent set of financial results for the financial year ending 31 March 2023, travel retail was singled out as a strong contributor to the company’s record performance, underpinned by the return of international travel in Asia.

Meanwhile, over at Whyte & Mackay, the owner of The Dalmore and Jura single-malt whiskies, the much-liked and respected Richard Trimby has left his job as travel retail director after seven years in the role. He’s left a big impact on the company, trebling its travel retail business; enhancing The Dalmore’s reputation as one of just a handful of luxury single malts in travel retail that are in high demand among high net-worth Chinese travellers; and seeding Jura as an up-and-coming malt in the Asian travel retail market.

In the wake of Trimby’s departure, Whyte & Mackay has restructured its travel retail division to continue its upward growth curve in the channel and create more synergies between the firm’s domestic and travel-retail teams. Mike Greggs, who previously headed the company’s UK and European business, has been appointed to the new role of managing director UK, Europe and GTR.

New role

At the same time, Clarisse Daniels, who most recently oversaw strategy and marketing, has been promoted to the newly created role of regional director global travel retail EMEI & Americas. Over in Asia, Whyte & Mackay’s most important travel retail market, Micheline Wong’s position as regional director of Asia travel retail has been elevated; one of her team members, Richard Wan has been promoted to the role of global account manager China and Taiwan travel retail.

Moving on from these high-level corporate people moves, the peak holiday travel period is in full swing in Europe; the level of NPD flowing into the channel is increasing. For instance, Moët Hennessy has been ramping up its promotional activity with Hennessy in travel retail over the past year and now a new Belvedere Ushuaïa limited edition bottle has gone on sale at selected Spanish airports.

Ushuaïa, located in Playa d'en Bossa, Ibiza, is one of the most popular nightclubs in the world and famous for its world-class DJs, elaborate stage shows, and luxurious amenities. Winning numerous awards, including Best Global Club at the International Dance Music Awards, Ushuaïa has hosted some of the biggest names in electronic music, including David Guetta, Calvin Harris and Armin van Buuren.

The exclusive Belvedere Ushuaïa limited edition bottle aims to capture the essence of the Ushuaïa experience. Consequently, Moët Hennessy Travel Retail Europe created a high-energy and disruptive experience at Dufry’s Ibiza Duty Free store at Ibiza airport to support the launch. With a décor inspired by the bottle’s design, the space features regular DJ spots and any traveller buying a bottle is offered a Belvedere Red Cocktail in a special VIP area. Thanks to a QR code allowing access to the nightclub’s playlist, travellers can even continue the party at home.

Staying with white spirits, Bacardi Global Travel Retail has just unveiled a new travel retail-exclusive expression of Bombay Sapphire. Bombay Sapphire Premier Cru has been developed by Alessandro Garneri, the gin’s newly appointed master of botanicals, and features late-harvest juniper berries from Tuscany sourced from a single, sustainable supplier. With its pine-fresh intensity making it ideal for Martini cocktails, this small-batch gin, a permanent expression, has a high-strength 47% abv and is currently on sale at World Duty Free in UK airports at £34.09 – more than an 82% premium to standard Bombay Sapphire at £18.69.

“Our ambition with this latest innovation is to build on Bombay Sapphire’s position as the top-selling premium gin in the channel, bringing excitement to the category, delighting travellers and delivering greater profitability for retailers,” commented Ignacio Vazquez, Bacardi Global Travel Retail head of marketing.

As the second half of 2023 gets underway, the travel retail spirits market is buzzing with new leadership, intriguing product releases, and a renewed sense of optimism.

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