SB meets… Jenny Shipton, Pernod Ricard GTR

9th November, 2017 by Amy Hopkins

Following a global restructure, Pernod Ricard GTR’s brand director for Scotch Whisky, Jenny Shipton, talks business strategy, key brands and innovation.

Jenny Shipton, marketing director for Pernod Ricard Global Travel Retail EMEA

How has Pernod Ricard’s GTR business performed over the last 12 months?

GTR is the number two business for Pernod Ricard in terms of profit and strategic focus. It is a key platform for brand and commercial value within the business. It is also a shop window for 3.1 billion travellers a year, which is forecast to grow substantially – so it’s a very unique channel for us. I think in the last few years Pernod Ricard has really woken up to the potential of the channel in terms of creating value and really driving our business. We’ve got a very unique opportunity to engage with our consumer, so it’s been elevated to a big focus for the business. In the last year we have had modest growth, but that’s really been driven by several brands and several categories, especially the whiskies.

What will your key focus points be in the near future?

It is absolutely around footfall. We have talked about it numerous times because such a small proportion – well, 30% – of consumers who go into duty-free stores. That’s still 70% who don’t. So if we can get an extra 1% of people into stores, that’s going to equate to millions of dollars in terms of extra revenues.

Being in store is just one touch point, and there are so many different touch points where we can engage with consumers before they even get to an airport: when they are booking, when they are investigating locations, when they are travelling to an airport, as well as when they are in the airport and when they leave as well. It’s about using each one of those effectively and contacting someone, a relevant consumer, multiple times, to get our message through and to change their mindset. That’s going to be key going forward.

And will technology and a use of data be important to your strategy?

Absolutely, it has to be, because this goes back to consumer engagement. We need to make sure that we talk to relevant consumers, targeted consumers, with relevant messages – the right message at the right time and the right place. And especially as we get more millennials coming through, people are connected all the time, and we need to make sure that we are using that media to best target them and best communicate with them.

Have geopolitical tensions – for instance, terrorism – had an impact on your business?

What we can see is that passenger numbers are increasing, and are forecast to have significant growth over the next 10 years. And you have lots of people coming from developing and emerging markets. So passenger numbers are increasing, but what we are seeing is people travelling to different places. So some places have tended to see a decrease in passenger numbers, whereas others have benefited. So a slightly changing landscape, but passenger numbers are increasing.

I think that despite all of those tensions, the picture of travel retail still has a pretty bright future, because you have got so many more people coming in, and when they are travelling, a lot of people see shopping as their number one objective. Despite all of those challenges I still think there are plenty of opportunities.

Is Pernod Ricard GTR preparing for the possibility of the re-establishment of duty-free between the UK and Europe after Brexit?

I think it’s something that we are aware of but we are not doing anything in particular [with regards to it]. It’s just business as usual really. Up until now, there have been no big changes in our business that you can attribute to Brexit.

In terms of brands, will any be receiving an additional push?

We have just had a big restructure of our global travel retail business, and that has huge benefits for everybody – from a customer point of view and a Pernod Ricard point of view, because we have an incredible portfolio of brands, but the new GTR organisation is allowing us to really start addressing the global consumer to make sure that we have global messages, global campaigns, global activations that can actually start using our global network. And that’s something that in the past we perhaps didn’t do as well as we could have done.

Does Pernod Ricard have a gap in its GTR portfolio right now?

Pernod Ricard really does cover all categories. We have an unrivalled portfolio in terms of whiskies – blended whiskies, malts, Irish whiskey. Just looking at the spectrum of brands, it’s a pretty incredibly portfolio that we have. So I don’t think we have any gaps at the moment.

Looking forward, which markets will be a priority for you?

It depends on the brands, but we are very excited about Ballantine’s 15 Year Old single malt – that’s a real innovation for us. I think what you’ll see at Pernod Ricard GTR is that this year we have a smaller amount of new product, but a really strong group of new products coming through. In terms of Chivas, we have Ultimate Cask Collection, and the first one went incredibly well. We have Ballantine’s 40 Year Old, which is a pretty amazing product, and Royal Salute has had some fantastic NPDs coming down the line. So lots of limited editions.

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