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  • Frank Welkerling

The growing importance of supporting small brands in Travel Retail.

Think of the words craft, artisan, small batch produced, locally sourced; and you instinctively think about brands that are more often than not created by independent producers, all lovingly made by hand. Brands that truly reflect something unique with exceptional quality and a look and feel that simply oozes ‘I want you in my life’... but more importantly, they are invariably locally made and representative of what is nurtured within the region.


As a seasoned traveller with a rich culinary background in my early career, including Executive Chef at Cunard Line in the mid 90s, the importance of quality produce with traceability, sustainability and provenance has always been a passion and today that passion lives on at Compass Supply Solutions. Our buying teams are always looking for distinctive brands with compelling stories, brands that help our business stand-out. Our growing portfolio of drinks is diverse, from the finest mixers by Artisan Drinks, made by mixologists and designed by artists, to small batch produced honey gin liqueurs made in the Cotswolds.


By supporting small brands brings soul into the consumers life and, more importantly, choice outside of the big commodity brands that are the mainstream staples of the modern and glitzy duty free. Yes, there are brand extensions, travel retail exclusives and celebrity partnerships, however the consumer will always gravitate to new experiences, particularly when looking for travel memories or a taste of something local to share their tales and stories with friends & family. One look at travel retail in Italy, Spain and France and it immediately feels small, local, craft and artisan. The finest olive oils, Grappa and Amarone. The balance of curating commodity yet supporting local is always evident.


Despite the challenges that will no doubt continue well into Q1 & Q2 and the big travel retail players prioritising global partnership agreements to sustain a degree of income, at Compass Supply Solutions, we will continue on our mission to champion small brands as part of our leading and diverse portfolio.


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