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Heinemann Takes B Corp-Style Approach in Travel Retail and Taps L'Oréal

Published October 12, 2023
Published October 12, 2023
Kevin Rozario

Travel retailer Gebr. Heinemann has stepped up its sustainability drive by signing up L’Oréal Travel Retail to its "Future Friendly" concept—a green retail offer designed to appeal to environmentally conscious travelers.

With L’Oréal onboard—it is the biggest beauty group in travel retail—Future Friendly has the possibility to scale up quickly. BeautyMatter understands that Heinemann is in discussions with other big beauty players to join its green initiative, which was a pioneer in travel retail on launch and followed by Dufry a few months later.

This first big brand collaboration, described as “broad and long-term,” was announced on the L’Oréal stand at the 38th TFWA World Exhibition & Conference, the global annual event for the duty-free and travel retail channel. It took place from October 1–5 in Cannes, France.

Heinemann has taken the initiative in the channel to be a sustainability gatekeeper, a bit like a much smaller scale B Corp, with four sustainability goals in place: packaging must be recyclable, recycled, refillable, and plastic-free. The company will act to ensure these common environmental goals in its Future Friendly range.

The retailer and the beauty house already have a “decades-long” business partnership, which will now move to a new level. Competitors are likely to follow, if only because of the fear of missing out on a closer partnership with the influential Hamburg-based global travel retailer.

The company just won the operator award for Global Travel Retail Green Champion at the inaugural Global Drinks Intel Awards, earlier in the week, and last year, opened its N-hub (Nordic hub) distribution center for the Nordics, which helps to save 300,000 transportation kilometers every year.

Guido Tappeser, Chief Commercial Officer at L’Oréal Travel Retail, expects the higher-level cooperation with Heinemann will set new standards for the industry. He said, “It is important for two main reasons: first, it is testament to our trust in a modern partnership of two companies with a history of more than 100 years; and second, we want to spread this initiative across travel retail to inspire all our partners to become part of this important journey.”

He added, “Sustainability is not a nice-to-have; it’s now a fundamental in the way we do business. Post-COVID consumers are demanding more sustainable products.” Tappeser said that L’Oréal Travel Retail would start with transparency on ingredients via its website as well as innovation around packaging and refillable products.

Part of the Heinemann’s mission statement is “to make a sustainable impact on the travel retail industry for travelers.” Saskia Möller, Director Compliance and Corporate Responsibility at Heinemann, said, “As a retailer in the middle of the value chain, we can do that when we work together.”

Both Green and Profitable

Britta Hoffmann, Heinemann’s Director of Purchasing Perfume and Cosmetics, added, “We will work more closely on the broad integration of L’Oréal products into Future Friendly, on reducing CO2 emissions through improved order management, on reducing returns, and also on joint social projects. Our business can be both green and profitable.”

The global roll out of approved L’Oréal products within the Future Friendly concept will begin in 2025 and will be “a vast offer.”

At the stand, Hoffmann told me that the Future Friendly concept is only for brands that can justify joining it. She said, “We have current definitions that we are currently reworking. Only brands and suppliers who meet the criteria will be in. But ultimately we would like every brand to be there in the end.”

Earlier in the week during the conference, TFWA President Erik Juul-Mortensen highlighted the importance of sustainable practices to appeal to a new generation of traveler. He said, “We all talk about sustainability, and some companies are doing brilliant work to ensure their products are manufactured, packaged and retailed with minimal environmental impact, while also supporting the communities involved. Yet in stores we see isolated displays showcasing products that are labelled as sustainable. What does that say to our customers? That 1% of our offer is sustainable and the rest is not? No, we need to be more ambitious, setting key targets within our product assortment and communicate those targets and milestones more boldly to our customers.”

It looks like Gebr. Heinemann is taking the lead on major brand partnerships and widening the sustainable presentation of products, but expect other retailers to follow quickly.


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