It is always good to showcase companies who have actually emerged stronger from COVID. Smaller, specialist retailers in particular, and German retailer Tripidi is a great example of a business agile enough to actually grow in size and is now beginning to enjoy the fruits of a Travel Retail recovery. I caught up recently with Jennifer Noelle, Tripidi’s Founder and Managing Partner.
Peter Marshall (PM): Jennifer, the airport and travel retail business sector is still undergoing some post COVID blues. Happily recovery is coming back, and the recent TFWA exhibition in Cannes gave us all ample evidence of that. fast. One factor, of course, that has arguably slowed an even faster recovery is the current Russia Ukraine war.
Yet, as a smaller travel retail operator, you have managed to weather the storm. What did you need to do to sustain the viability of your business?
Jennifer Noelle (JN): Well, there were clear changes in the passenger structure due to COVID, and sadly now the war, which made it necessary for us to adapt and change the product range. In the peak of the pandemic, for example, we added products to help fight COVID for passengers to travel safely by introducing masks, sanitizers, gloves, disinfection kits and so on. We also enlarged our stationery and gifting assortment – both with current suppliers as well as some new ones. Because of the lack of Asian travellers we had to reduce our household assortment.
Besides, COVID and the war, another huge issue mankind has to deal with nowadays is climate change. Since the very beginning of Tripidi, we focused on high quality, long lasting products. Further, we have enlarged the articles that help reduce plastic waste and make everyone`s travel – and of course life in general – more plastic-free, which helps to reduce waste.
So we offer a wide range of all kinds of to-go cups and bottles, bento boxes for lunch, reusable wrapping paper for buttered bread, bamboo toothbrushes, solid shampoo, deo, toothpaste etc. And we are very happy to see that a growing number of our customers are very interested in this assortment.
Importantly, we created an adapted version of the Tripidi Concept that also works without the Chinese travellers and is also very suitable for Schengen marketplaces.
Besides adapting to the new situation within the bricks and mortar stores, we additionally set up new sales channels – like e-commerce for the German market as well as WeChat livestream sessions to stay tuned to our Chinese customers. I am very pleased to say that both channels are now running successfully.
PM: So what percentage of your business do these two elements now constitute and how do you see their further business growth?
JN: Our main business will always be Travel Retail within airports or other tourist hubs. This will always contribute the largest part of the business’s revenue. Nevertheless, I see all digital commerce as a growing sales channel. And it’s not only a sales channel, but also a very good communication tool to learn about the needs and demands of our customers and to communicate effectively with them.