It’s time for Timeless in travel retail says Phil Restall

Last September Beam Suntory appoointed Phil Restall as General Manager of Travel Retail. The appointment signalled what the drinks company called the transformation of the company’s global travel retail operating model, a shift designed to ensure the delivery of an exciting innovation pipeline – “a step-change in this important channel”. Bowmore Timeless 31 Year-Old, exclusive to travel retail, very much fits the innovation bill, as Restall told Martin Moodie.

The Moodie Davitt Report: Bowmore Timeless 31 Year-Old is a global travel retail exclusive. That’s quite a commitment to the channel at a time when it is going through so much pain globally. How do you see the timing of the launch and also the state of the travel retail sector?

Phil Restall: We’ve seen our launches and business go from strength to strength despite the challenging and turbulent times of the past year, thanks to a hardworking team and an ever-evolving portfolio.

We expect that with the vaccine roll-out and rigorous safety measures being taken, passengers will be eager to travel as soon as they can. We’ve seen this happening in the on-trade and in locations such as within China.

There has been a considerable increase in desire for differentiated products since the pandemic hit. Bowmore Timeless Series will attract those shoppers looking for unique findings, whilst also providing a great opportunity for retailers to bring some excitement and value to the channel.

The launch of Bowmore Timeless Series, as well as other innovative launches, supports our ambition to become the recognised industry leader for showcasing brands, strong customer relations, and driving mutually beneficial growth during the COVID-19 recovery period and beyond.

I guess travel retail is playing a dual role here – a sales opportunity in its own right but possibly more importantly an amplification of the Bowmore proposition and Timeless in particular?

Indeed. The Bowmore Timeless Series marks the launch of a new major global campaign celebrating the ‘The Art of Time’, paying homage to the legacy of the distillery, which is over 240 years old. It encapsulates the spirit of Bowmore, bringing together years of hard work that have led to the creation of one of the most celebrated whiskies in the world.

In this case the travel retail exclusive - Bowmore Timeless 31 Year-Old - offers a different age to the domestic one – Bowmore Timeless 27 Year-Old, thus amplifying the ‘differentiated product’ feature that duty free shoppers seek.

We believe that the unique and premium quality single malt of Bowmore Timeless 31 Year-Old is sure to transport drinkers to the shores of Islay wherever they are in the world.

What’s the roll-out plan in terms of timing and locations?

We’ll start activating in Asia imminently and we have activations planned in Taiwan and Dubai. We’ll also showcase the Bowmore Timeless Series across Hainan. Further activations will take place towards the summer in Germany and France, amongst others.

You mentioned Hainan, the travel retail hotspot of the moment. What’s your approach there?

Hainan represents a great opportunity in the short and long term to engage with our shoppers in a luxury and premium environment that will deliver unique brand experiences. I am personally really keen to visit Hainan and enjoy a good consumer immersion.

Can you tell us about the marketing support in travel retail that you will be putting in place for 31 Year-Old. What role will the Thomas Vanz work play?

Bowmore Timeless Series will be one of our biggest launches this year. We have plans both on and offline, including activations in key locations, on-shelf touchpoints and digital amplification.

Partnerships are a key driver for luxury whisky and so we collaborated with award-winning creator Thomas Vanz to celebrate the launch of the Timeless Series and pay homage to the artistic craft of creating Bowmore’s iconic whiskies.

Through the medium of film and artwork, Vanz has illustrated the power of time as expressed in the evolution of whisky. His style encourages the viewer to explore and immerse themselves in the story – the perfect match for Bowmore Timeless Series.

Spotlight Series - April 2021

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