In the spotlight: Andrew Ford, DFS
Back in 1998 Andrew Ford made the brave transition from a senior role at liquor supplier Allied Domecq to leadership of the TFWA executive team in Paris. After seven years as CEO he made another quantum leap to become Vice President – Global Business Development at DFS Group Ltd based in Hong Kong. With duty free outlets in airports and downtown locations all over the world, DFS is a force to be reckoned with. Working for such an enterprise and with his broad experience as supplier, trade association and now retailer, Ford has unique insight to the duty free & travel retail world. Here he offers some insight to his world.
Your career path has been rather unorthodox. Can you tell us a little about how it all started and how you became involved in duty free?
As a Brand Director with Allied Domecq my areas of responsibility ranged from sales to marketing with an increasing focus on duty free. My first visit to Cannes was a real eye-opening experience! From there I moved to TFWA which involved general management of a fantastic team of people in Paris. It was a great role with so much opportunity to lead an association and to add value to the industry. The appointment at DFS was a natural evolution – back to Asia, a retailer and a focus on defending our position and developing DFS in various markets.
DFS has proved itself to be innovative and entrepreneurial. What is your role in its current development? I am charged with leading the development of new markets for DFS and with helping to manage its industry associations.
Which aspect of your current job do you enjoy most?
I get a real buzz out of visualising a potential deal and helping to bring it to fruition.
Of which career achievements are you most proud?
Taking on TFWA operations (I still miss it!); leading the creation and development of both APTRA and MEDFA; expanding DFS horizons to include the Middle East and India. Overall, I am pleased with the way I have been able to develop relationships with people from so many different cultures, religions and backgrounds.
What do you believe should be the role of APTRA in the development of the duty free & travel retail industry in Asia Pacific?
I believe APTRA has a great opportunity to broaden the boundaries of duty free in Asia, thereby developing improved tourism-related retail, jobs and training, and generating more income for economies. APTRA can increase awareness of the contribution that the travel retail industry makes to economies and can help influence the ways in which this contribution could increase.
What are your priorities for APTRA – and retailers within it – in the foreseeable future?
APTRA should continue to work towards giving prominence to duty free in the Asia and Pacific region, helping growth in value, in tourism, in airport development etc.
With your roots in Europe and now a busy life in Asia, you must travel constantly. Could you give us some flavour of how you spend your leisure time?
Tina and I enjoy weekends at home in Hong Kong, and also we like to visit new places in Japan, Europe and Bhutan, among others.