James started his career in travel retail back in 1990, with Allders International in the buying department, progressing through the ranks, before joining World Duty Free early in 1999 just before the duty free abolition as their Head of Category for Duty Free, Tax Free & Luxury.
James moved to the Whyte & Mackay Whisky Company as Global Sales Director in 2006 before a move to the Middle East, joining Aer Rianta International as the General Manager of Operations for their Middle East operation.
A family prompted move back to the UK in 2014 saw him joining the Cruise Retail specialists – Harding Retail as Buying Director, before assuming his current role as their Managing Director early in 2016.
James has overseen a comprehensive restructure of the business, and since becoming Managing Director, Harding has secured an array of high profile cruise contracts, including the high profile new cruise market entrants - Virgin Voyages and Ritz Cartlon. As a winner of several Frontier Awards over the years at different companies, James knows what it takes to win, and so was an obvious choice to become a judge himself.
John Rimmer has worked in the duty free and travel retail industry since 2000, when he joined trade journal Duty-Free News International as a reporter. Within three years he had been appointed editor of sister publication Travel Retailer International, before becoming editor of DFNI a year later.
In 2006 he relocated to Paris, where he joined retailer Aelia (part of the Lagardère group) as Deputy Director of Business Development, helping the company to develop its presence at airports beyond France. Four years later he returned to the UK to become Executive Director Business Development at leading trade publisher The Moodie Report.
In October 2012 John returned to Paris to join Tax Free World Association as Conference, Research and Corporate Affairs Director, tasked with strengthening the Association’s services to its members across the world.
In October 2017 John was appointed Managing Director of TFWA, responsible for the day-to-day running of the Association and its two major exhibitions, TFWA World Exhibition & Conference and TFWA Asia Pacific Exhibition & Conference.
John has moderated several industry conferences around the world, including the TFWA China’s Century Conference, the TFWA Asia Pacific Conference, the World Travel Market, the MEADFA Conference and the Trinity Forum.
John holds an MA in Modern and Medieval Languages from the University of Cambridge.
Julie Lassaigne became Secretary General of ETRC in February 2019. In this role, she leads the organisation and represents ETRC both externally and towards its members. Based in Brussels, Julie is a tiredless advocate for duty free and travel retail and is a regular speaker at industry events. She first joined ETRC in 2013 where she was responsible for managing some of the key challenges affecting the duty free and travel retail sector including product information to consumers, air passenger rights and transport security. Prior to ETRC, Julie gained extensive experience working for public affairs consultancies in Brussels with clients in the retail, aviation, food and sport sectors. A French national, Julie holds a Master in Political Science and Communication of the Institute of Political Science of Bordeaux.
Mark Gibney has worked in Travel Retail for 24 years having started with Alpha Retail after many years in department stores on UK High street. Moved to Gatwick Airport as Head of Retail and now working as Senior Account Manager at Heathrow airport managing the relationship with several large retailers including Dufry.
Raghav Rekhi has been with Mars Wrigley for over 20 years. He has been the global marketing & category director for Mars Wrigley International Travel Retail since 2018.
Raghav has worked across various regions and business units in his career with Mars. Prior to joining the Travel Retail team, Raghav was the Marketing Director of Mars Chocolate India and oversaw the launch of Indian operations in this capacity. Before moving to India, he was Marketing Director for the Middle East, Turkey and Africa where his portfolio included Mars’ chocolate and snacking brands as well as their world leading Petcare brands across a region spanning more than 30 countries.
Raghav has wide ranging international experience having lived in Asia, the Middle East, Europe and the United States. He is passionate about putting the traveler at the heart of the discussion to drive sustainable growth for his category and the travel retail industry.
Robert Marriott is a highly experienced retailer. He held the position of Regional Managing Director for a FTSE 100 UK food retail business from January 2010 to April 2017, running a multi-billion UK pound per year operation. The key responsibilities were full accountability for the profit and loss account, strategic planning, customer metrics and 25,000 colleagues performance and welfare.
Robert has over 30 years retail experience, starting as a sales colleague to being managing director.
His operational experience covers Retail Operations, People, Logistics, Commercial, Marketing, Project Management and Head Office functions. His career has been largely food retail based, operating in the UK and Western Europe.
He also managed a standalone multi million euro food business operating in Western European and a bespoke meat retail business in the UK at board level.
In 2019, he moved to Muscat in the Sultanate of Oman to take up the position of General Manager of Oman Sales and Services LLC which is a travel/duty free and gift shop retailer.
Robert is highly passionate about giving every colleague the opportunity to fulfill their full potential and removing barriers which stop advancement. In the UK, he chaired the women in business forum and recently supported the Omani Women’s day at Muscat Duty Free.
Robert commented “any successful business, especially a retail business is about people, we have to give exceptional service to all our customers at all times but this will only be achieved by having highly trained, engaged, motivated and happy colleagues. We always need to remember as leaders we need to build winning teams, where everyone feels truly valued and appreciated and fully understand the part they play in delivering industry leading success.”