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Peter Marshall (PM): Daniel, welcome to Let’s kick off this conversation by taking a brief look at how the business has changed over the years.

Daniel Levin (DL): It’s hard to believe. We started with a one page catalogue, working out of home. Of course I don’t remember those days as I was only an infant! But just thinking about it, it’s amazing to see the progress over the years. The days that inflatable pillows were the trend and no one heard of memory foam travel pillows. Today we have multiple brands with hundreds of items – Travel Blue, Lexingham, Anomeo and Z-Zoom at hundreds of thousands of locations around the world, supported by 19 offices and a big team of people.

PM: How, then, has the business performed over the last 12 months?

DL:  The last 12 months have been quite eventful. We are still feeling the effects of COVID19, but we’ve also seen a boom in travellers, airports are full and demand is sky-rocketing. Thankfully we were well prepared and could supply our customers. On a global level it was interesting to see how different countries dealt with COVID and its effects. Some opened up and people started travelling as soon as possible, while other countries focused more on domestic travel. The situation keeps improving and I can’t wait to see how the year progresses and continues to improve.

PM: As the business knows, you’ve now taken over at the helm of Travel Blue from Avi last year. Are you now developing a new strategy for creating additional brands beyond Travel Blue, Lexingham, Anomeo and Z-Zoom?

DL: We’re always looking for opportunities. Even during COVID we invested a lot, opened new markets and actually expanded the business. We’ve expanded the South Korean market, for example, with a wonderful team of people.

We also get requests from clients to provide them with additional solutions. In short, it’s hard for us to stand still.

One of the most important steps we’ve taken in the last year is the launch of the ‘Our Blue Way’ initiative. Making this change possible is a wonderful feeling, as using recycled and recyclable materials moves us closer to a sustainable world. 50% of our products sold in 2023 will be from recycled or recyclable materials. I’ve decided to shoulder the extra costs in order to make this situation the new normal.

PM:  Just developing the point about where your future growth is going to come from, are stand alone stores the logical next step for you – especially given the broad range of products and brands you now have in your portfolio?

DL: We are more focused on working with our partners closer and designing a shop-in-shop concept specially for them. We have found this approach to be very successful. Locations like Beijing, Shanghai, Lisbon and Bangkok are good examples, and there are many more.

Our clients trust us to do the best, and we prove this with our figures. The more information we get, the better the service we can provide. We’ve seen increases of around 20% – 30%.

PM:  It’s worth reminding our readers that sustainability is something that has actually been a key focus of your business since you started in 1987. And, of course, as you’ve just mentioned, you’ve introduced your brand new initiative: Our Blue Way. It’s really a big step change for the business. Tell us more.

DL: Yes, sustainability has always been close to my heart. It’s not only in the items that we provide, but in the day-to-day, too. Our generations have inherited a certain situation from previous generations – for better and for worse – and it’s up to us to fix certain things. Our Blue Way is a really big step and we are all very excited about it.

But it doesn’t stop there. Our Blue Way, as I said, focuses on making the use of recycled and recyclable material the new normal. We are offering consumers and buyers more options for sustainable items without compromising quality and feel and without an increase in cost. Sustainability is a passion. We’ve actually been using recycled cardboard and soy-based ink in our packaging for over 20 years, reducing the amount of plastic as much as possible and using PET. When designing our packaging, we aim to reduce the size for a few reasons: less materials creates less waste, and reduced shipping size reduces the overall carbon footprint.

PM: Interestingly, sustainably-rooted products often carry with them a price premium. But this is not the case with yours, is it? How has the trade reacted?

DL: The trade has really welcomed Our Blue Way with open arms. In many cases people are willing to do more for things they believe in. But what they need is an opportunity, an opportunity to give or to make a difference. Again, we are absorbing the price premium in order to make this the ‘new normal’ and make it so there is no resistance to joining Our Blue Way.

PM: Everywhere you turn in Travel Retail, we are surrounded by change. Travel Blue, as market leader, is a customer-driven business and you have adapted to change by keeping step – even ahead – of others in what is becoming an increasingly competitive marketplace. What motivates you to drive this business?

DL: I think it’s the way I grew up. Growing into a family business, seeing the interactions, the progress and absorbing the values. What we do, we do because we believe in it. We respect our customers  and work hard on giving them great service and a great product. As a family business, we see how people are everything and we treat customers the way we would want to be treated.

PM: TFWA Singapore is just ahead of us. What can the trade expect to see on your stand?

DL:  Firstly, they will see us face-to-face, which is very exciting. We will share with them Our Blue Way and how they can take part in this opportunity. We will also be presenting Lexingham, our mobile accessories brand.

PM: Finally Daniel, if there are three things you would like to say to the trade, what would they be?

DL:  We, as a trade, have the chance to positively affect the world in a noticeable way. Creating awareness, offering solutions and running our companies in a more sustainable way is the best way forward for us all.


Peter Marshall

Founder: Arts
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