September 29 2020  |  Retailers

Top Brands International open to opportunities

By Hibah Noor

After six months of strict lockdown in Panama, Top Brands International President Danny Yohoros is gradually seeing light at the end of the dark tunnel caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. By his own admission – and like many others in the travel retail industry – life has been tough for the operator, which has a presence across the Americas and the Caribbean, in Panama, the United States, Belize, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Colombia, Chile, Paraguay, Bahamas, Cuba, St. Thomas, Tortola, French Guiana and Uruguay, employing more than 1,000 people worldwide.

“It was an unpredictable year and something that nobody would imagine in the whole world,” he tells Americas Duty Free. “We had been growing outstanding numbers and we expected 2020 to be a record year. We never imagined that in the third month of the year, all of our operations would have been shut down. This has been the biggest challenge I have ever encountered, but thank God we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s the most challenging six months I have ever had, [working on] how to maintain operations, and making sure our staff were well protected, but at the same time understanding that even though the stores were closed, we needed to give them support in many ways, not only financially. We managed to do so; finance-wise, we were very solid, so it gave us a good timeline to get through this situation.”

While the company’s sales figures for 2020 are not on target due to the crisis, operations are starting to reopen in the different countries, and – outside of airports which has been the most affected – Yohoros has seen a good recovery in terms of border stores in South America. “People feel more comfortable and they have come back," he says. “Not in the proportion we used to have before, but it’s giving us a good benchmark for the recovery that could come. We see that in Latin America, there will be a lot of unemployment, a lot of restructuring of companies, and of course this will affect consumption in the region. So we will have to be even more creative than before on how to address our customers and deal more directly with them in order to achieve similar numbers to what we used to have.”

Investment in Paraguay

In January 2020, the business landscape was very different. Top Brands International had just won a 10-year contract at Paraguay’s main airport in a bid that strengthened the company’s presence in South America. The win at Silvio Pettirossi International Airport in Asuncion came just months after Top Brands acquired Neutral Duty Free, the largest duty free chain in Uruguay.

These artistic renderings give an idea of what the look will be for Top Brand’s Luryx Duty Free story at the Silvio Pettirossi International Airport in Asunción

Top Brands had started renovating its store at Silvio Pettirossi International Airport before the pandemic but put the work on hold because of the crisis. In September, the company restarted construction and expects to have the store open by the first quarter of 2021. “We will be a year delayed, but we’re doing it slowly and properly,” says Yohoros, who confirmed the company’s US$5 million investment in the project.

The Departures shop will span over 1,000 square meters. “It’s going to be a massive store,” he enthuses, noting that Top Brands is the only operator at the airport.

The delayed project meant that many areas of the store could be redesigned, including using different display units and furniture, allowing the customer to do more self-service. “We have a very good architect [Argentine architect Monica Ariaudo] with a lot of experience who has designed the store. We signed a very long contract. The first few years are going to be very challenging but we’re in it for the long term.”

For a full report on Top Brands International, look out for our Americas Duty Free Virtual Travel Retail Expo in October.

Brand News

October 29 2020

L’Oréal produces first plastic…

​French beauty group L’Oréal, together with its partners LanzaTech and Total, have premiered the world’s first sustainable…

By Mary Jane Pittilla

October 29 2020

Quintessential Brands scoops Gin…

​Quintessential Brands has been recognized by one of the top global drinks industry competitions, the International Spirits…

By Mary Jane Pittilla

October 29 2020

Dufry announces changes to executive…

Jose Antonio Gea, Deputy Group CEO of leading operator Dufry, will step down from his position of Deputy CEO and member of…

By Mary Jane Pittilla

October 26 2020

BLOOM Gin provides support to Women…

BLOOM Gin is giving budding female entrepreneurs the chance to win a share of £25,000, turning their passion projects into…

By Laura Shirk

October 21 2020

J. Cortès lights up cigar category…

​Cigar brand J. Cortès has introduced three new Corona terroir tubes

By Mary Jane Pittilla

October 20 2020

Jim Beam announces TR exclusive…

​Jim Beam Bourbon has announced the launch of Lineage – a batched premium expression exclusive to global travel retail

By Laura Shirk

October 19 2020

Beam Suntory launches first ever…

Beam Suntory has launched the first-ever world blended whisky, Suntory World Whisky ‘Ao’, exclusive to global travel retail

By Wendy Morley

October 19 2020

AHC to introduce new skincare products…

​Unilever-owned premium skincare brand AHC is to enhance its travel retail offerings with several new products that have…

By Mary Jane Pittilla

October 16 2020

DFD launches Writing & Arts category…

Duty Free Dynamics, major regional distributor within the Americas’ travel retail channel, is pleased to announce the debut…

By Laura Shirk

Copyright 2020 DutyFree Magazine. All rights reserved. Privacy Policy Sitemap