Gebr Heinemann

Shaping a new travel retail market

Gebr Heinemann management said the company is “setting the course to shape a different travel retail market and to define its role in this new market”. At the centre of these efforts, it said, is the drive to create “new, future-proof models of marketplace collaboration and to build an even more magical shopping experience.” In short, that means adapting to new consumer thinking and demands. CEO Max Heinemann said: “Our consumers will drive us towards a new marketplace. If we look at the singular boxes that we rent from landlords and we look at traditional ways of partnerships or the Trinity, it’s not enough. We are in the age of sharing and it is about the consumer full stop. And that is the potential that we need to unlock, the travel community. We have to broaden our perspectives and build bridges to new ideas outside of our industry that are surpassing us.” The company said it will invest further in new technologies as well as the physical marketplace. With its innovation hub GHARAGE, launched in March 2020, Heinemann is working on several projects to diversify its retail and service offering to meet the omnichannel needs of younger and new target groups in particular.

“If our partners want the most valuable product they need to understand that true and successful collaboration means giving space to trial and error and that true innovation needs contractual room to flourish.”

– Max Heinemann

GHARAGE: A hub to explore and adapt to emerging consumer demands, notably among younger people

One example is the current testing of KOALA, a digital payment provider, allowing customers to scan and pay for items with their smartphone and leave the shop via a fast lane. In addition, GHARAGE is currently identifying and establishing promising “new business models, new brands and memorable experiences that build a bridge to the company’s core business”. Max Heinemann said: “GHARAGE looks at social impacts and changes within the world, especially of travel. It reaches out to ideas and invites them into our industry and our marketplaces to really bring some change forward and unlock the potential. It will help us identify where to invest in future as well. “This bridge-building element is something we want to carry over to all of our partnerships with brands and landlords. So we aim for a clear, active form of co-creation of this industry.” On how others can play their part, he added: “We will find potential partners that are clearly more focused on the end consumer and really raising the potential of making everyone happy on their journey. We will have others where there is no change unfortunately and we will see how we address that. But we have more good partnerships than bad ones.

“We will not be standing still.” Executive Board members (from left) Raoul Spanger, Stephan Ernst, Dirk Schneider and Max Heinemann

“There is a clear level of transparency on which we can start our conversation. We will need to have different business models within the airport marketplace in future, different partnerships, to cater to a type of consumer who is not our core. So we cannot look at boxes, we must look at it like a marketplace. Can we create a marketplace of pure excitement, or choice, and we’ll see who takes our hand? “We will not be standing still, because we have a lot of ground to take and a lot of potential as well to tap into. We have been an industry that was somewhat comfortable in the sense that it was always going only in one direction and now we have all experienced a very, very different scenario. “We want to get up and running again. We cannot wait for lockdowns to end. We cannot wait for people travelling and we cannot wait to be there for every individual travel journey.” He concluded: “We are reshaping the travel retail ecosystem with the aid of increasingly sophisticated technology. It’s about the entire offer – the big picture of how we engage with travellers and how we see the balance between offline and online, physical and digital. We are looking to the future and we are well prepared for it. The group, the family shareholders and all employees are fully committed to the future of travel retail. Gebr Heinemann has a long and successful history ahead of it.”

Template for a new retailing identity: The stores at Berlin Brandenburg Airport


The Moodie Davitt eZine Issue 297 | 21 June 2021

The Moodie Davitt eZine is published 15 times per year by The Moodie Davitt Report (Moodie International Ltd). © All material is copyright and cannot be reproduced without the permission of the Publisher. To find out more visit and to subscribe, please e-mail

Share this article: