The Travel Retail Consortium (TRC) was pleased to host our first ‘TRC at Sea’ UK customer event last month in Christchurch, Dorset as we returned to physical events and raised £5K for our new charity: Family Holiday Charity.

The ‘TRC At Sea’ seminar was held on 21 September, 2023 and as our first in-person TRC gathering post-pandemic, we were delighted to see so many of our members present. The return to a physical annual event allowed everyone to catch up with long-standing connections and exchange market conditions, updates and news. 

Newly appointed Chair, Sharon Edwards said: “True to our heritage, TRC events are business events with a social side and this year’s gathering was no exception. A big difference this time around, was not only the fact we were able to host our first in-person event since 2019, but also that we focused on a specific part of travel retail – namely all sea-related areas, so cruise, ferry and ports distribution.

“And we were over the moon with how many people attended (80). We welcomed industry guests from major travel retailers including Dufry, Lagardere and Harding+ as well as the likes of Condor Ferries, P&O and supplier group B&S,” she said.

This year’s event was held during the day (1-5pm) with several brands showcasing their latest ranges, ideal for cruise and ferry channels. 12 category members took part in the brand showcase, these included: Accolade Wines, Aurora World, Coti Vision, Go Travel, Champagne Taittinger, Edinburgh Gin, Heineken, Imperial Brands, Kurate International, Remy Cointreau, Sekonda and Skross.

The evening kicked off with a champagne reception courtesy of TRC member Champagne Taittinger, which was followed by welcome speeches – firstly from the TRC’s outgoing Acting Chairman, Martyn Westbury who handed the baton over to new Chair, Sharon Edwards who also introduced Mags Rivett from the TRC’s new charity, Family Holiday Charity. She went on to explain how the charity helps financially challenged families go on memory-making UK holidays.  

Then guests enjoyed a delicious dinner, which was followed by an enlightening and insightful speech by plastics expert, Alessandro Dulli of Polymateria, who provided details on how there is real potential for companies converting PET plastics to achieve zero plastic waste over the next few years.

The event is an opportunity to raise funds for the TRC’s nominated charity which for 2023/24 is the Family Holiday Charity and helps families that are going through difficult situations to get time away together – often for the first time ever – to build happy memories, confidence and hope for the future. TRC is aiming to raise £6,000 for the charity and is already well on the way with £5,000 donated so far.

TRC at Sea attendees raised £2.4K charitable donations on the evening of the event, which has now been matched by the TRC, achieving a total of £4.8K. This sum will presented to the Family Holiday Charity at the end of October.

Andy McNicholas, Deputy General Manager Lagardère Travel Retail UK and Ireland said:
“I was pleased to put some faces to names, and meet colleagues I had not seen for many years. The brands on display were exciting, and the event allowed me a hands-on experience with the items on show, and to ask any questions face to face to gain knowledge. I enjoyed the fact that we all contributed to the Family Holiday Charity in the evening, and we raised over £2K for this great cause. I was also enlightened by the talk on the proposed manufacturing changes to convert PET bottles to enable them to biodegrade in a fraction of the time currently, to help the planet. All in all it was a great event. Thank you.”

Roos Boomsma-Plaat, Senior Sales Manager from B&S said: “It was nice to see how all brand owners enthusiastically showcased their products. As an official distributor of these prestigious brands, I found the presentations to be a valuable opportunity to gain insights into the industry’s latest trends, product offerings and strategies. The TRC at Sea event provided an ideal platform for connecting with both suppliers and customers. Throughout the event, there were numerous opportunities to exchange ideas and insight.”

Ian Platt of Baxter Storey said: “My first TRC event was a very pleasant experience, I thank Richard Van Bosse of Heineken for inviting me. The atmosphere was upbeat, and it was evident that there were a lot of people from different companies and suppliers who used this as an opportunity to catch up and exchange news. The supplier stands were interesting to walk round with the Taittinger, Accolade Wines and Remy Martin stands attracting the greater interest, probably as a result of the tastings they were holding.”

“At the evening dinner, guests on my table were very welcoming to a new person in the group and it was a very pleasant affair with a sumptuous meal and wines with a short presentation by the charity – Family Holiday – and a raffle to raise funds for them. An enlightening presentation on the sustainability challenges of plastics and an intriguing solution for all to consider was excellent. After a nightcap to round off the day, off to bed in a lovely hotel.”

Julie Hawkins and Fiona Bingham from Coti Vision said: “As new members of the TRC, we were delighted to be able to join the TRC At Sea event in Christchurch. The importance of networking can never be understated so to be able to showcase our chains to this exciting industry and meet with active TRC members was a real pleasure.  The atmosphere was friendly and supportive, and we were welcomed by a truly harmonious group of people who made us feel like we were networking with friends. Along with an evening of delicious catering, plentiful wine and interesting dialogue, as well as a fascinating and thought-provoking talk on the very real potential for zero plastic waste, we were genuinely thrilled to be there, and we offer our sincere compliments to the organisers.”

Sophie Jefferson of Harding+ said: “My first Travel Retail Consortium event was a fantastic opportunity to connect with people within my industry. I would like to give a special mention to the guest speakers Mags Rivett from the Family Holiday Charity and Alessandro Dulli from Polymateria, on giving such insightful talks. A big thank you to Sarah-Jayne Etherington from Go Travel and TRC for the invitation.”

We hope as many members as possible can join us for our next customer event in 2024.