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Beauty Shows Its Resilience at the TFWA Tax-Free Show

Published October 18, 2022
Published October 18, 2022

In early October, Tax Free World Association’s World Exhibition was back on form after a very pared-down show last year, and no event at all in 2020. Most striking was the support shown by beauty players for the number-one show in the  duty-free and travel retail arena, held annually in Cannes, France.

Total exhibitor numbers this year remained significantly down: 387 against 505 in 2019. However, breaking down the different categories—from wines and spirits to fashion and accessories—it was clear that fragrances and cosmetics led the pack. Beauty exhibitors ranging from Chanel and L’Occitane to Molton Brown and Rituals numbered 134, just four short of 2019, but their share of total exhibitors jumped from 27% in 2019 to 35% this year.

While there was evidence of scaling back of exhibition space among some larger beauty houses, others expanded. The show organizer also scaled back the event by half a day. However, in general, the beauty category has remained core for travel retailers as they emerge from the fog of COVID.

Visitor levels buoyant

Though overall exhibitor numbers were down, visitors to the show held up nicely. Just under 6,000 turned up by the middle of the last day, which compares well with the record 7,215 visitors at the equivalent point in 2019. More than 2,000 of these attendees were representatives from duty-free retailers and landlords.

Commenting on the revival of the show, TFWA President Erik Juul-Mortensen said: “In this, the 75th anniversary of the duty-free industry, we’re very happy with the outcome here this week, in terms of exhibitors, square meters of stand space, delegates and buyers in attendance. [There has been] a real mood of confidence. By the time we are back in Cannes next year I’m convinced we will be flying at full height once again.”

Importantly, Juul-Mortensen also commented on the finances of the association which have been blighted by two years of COVID. He said: “Thanks to our prudence in the past, our finances are in a strong position. We are well placed to continue supporting the industry going forward to next year and beyond.”

Four-year Singapore deal 

One indicator of that strength is the signing of a four-year deal to continue holding its Asia show, TFWA Asia Pacific, in Singapore in May 2023 until at least 2026. The agreement is with Singapore Alliance Partners, which includes Marina Bay Sands, the hotel where the event is held, and the Singapore Tourism Board.
STB’s Executive Director, Exhibitions & Conferences, Poh Chi Chuan, said in Cannes: “We are heartened by the strong rebound in both business events and leisure visitors to Singapore [which is] an ideal venue to support the continued growth of the global travel retail industry.”

Last year’s show in Singapore was cancelled and replaced by an all-digital conference format, and this year it was more of a networking event than exhibition. The show has not been helped by beauty players like Shiseido and L’Oréal in the travel retail channel being wooed away to the duty-free island of Hainan for the China International Consumer Products Expo (CICPE).

The inaugural CICPE 2021 event took place in the month of May—when TFWA’s Singapore exhibition traditionally happens—and covered a huge 80,000 square meters. This year’s expo was originally planned for April but had to be pushed back to July due to COVID outbreaks in mainland China and in Hainan.


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