Thomas Falcy talks about Travel Retail

Thomas Falcy talks about Travel Retail

Our success story started in ‘87 in the heart of the fashion capital Antwerp, Belgium with the iconic crinkled nylon bags.
Today Kipling’s well-known bags and accessories are available around the world in 436 stores in 80 countries and can be found in more than 7500 shops including the best department-stores, and and 310 TR locations worldwide.
These locations are well balanced between our different regions and cover airports (45%), Cruise and Ferries (35%), Downtown DF (14%), Border stores (5%), Diplomatic & military stores (1%).
Kipling as a brand has changed and reinvented itself.
With its casual vibe, they attracting the millennials and empower people you to go their own way.
We design handbags, Luggage, Backpacks and Accessories that inspire mobility and lighten your life.

We asked Thomas Falcy, Sales Director – EMEA Distributors & Global Travel Retail, about the future of Travel Retail and the part of Kipling in it.

How is the travel retail business nowadays?

Travel is more and more integrated to our way of life. Thus, TR is getting more important in terms of business but also in an omnichannel brand visibility strategy and tomorrow probably in an omnichannel sales process.
Millennials represent a strong share of passengers (+50% and growing), so it’s crucial for brands to adapt their offer and communication.

Airports are a fantastic platform to showcase and recruit new consumers.
People travel for work, leisure and ultimately go on a trip to discover the world. And we have exactly what it takes to find the perfect bag companion.

Our TR business grew significantly over the past couple of years and while we are strengthening our business base we are also building our ambitious future.


How is the change of the brand affecting the travel retail business?

Kipling’s TR approach is completely in line with the new brand Creative Vision. TR seems to be the perfect playground to express Kipling Live Light. It’s all about being casual, in movement, juggling while targeting our collections to a younger consumer, who travels more and more in a global world.

This brand changes and the new Creative Vision are also making of Kipling an inclusive brand and that’s what we need in an airport environment. Try to picture the PAX mix in an airport: genders, age groups, nationalities. Such large diversity, being inclusive is a must. We need to address our collection to the largest number of passengers.

So in that sense, we are now completely unleashing Kipling potential in Travel Retail.


What is your focus this year?

This is year is about setting the foundation of our Global TR business. We are aligning our strategy globally in order to be more consistent and relevant during the consumer journey. Travellers are global and so are the consumers.
Concretely, this means that we are aligning our product offer in TR with Asia, EMEA and Americas.

We will, of course, keep some local specificities. We developed our GTR strategy to be globally consistent and locally relevant.

We also see the importance of exclusive products/ranges. We developed 12 exclusive TR SKUs as part of our core TR range, mainly backpacks and totes for now. We are working on exclusive products for some countries and airports (i.e. London airports and Rio de Janeiro airports). This is exactly how the locally relevant approach is key to us.


What is the future for travel retail?

As mentioned, we are now building our GTR business. It will take a few seasons before being fully aligned, then we will have to ensure our TR assortment lives well and allow us to grow as we want. Also, we are considering opportunities to open Kipling mono-brand stores in Asia (we already have 6 in China mainland, HK and Singapore).

In addition, we are looking for new channel opportunities such as inflight, where Kipling would be perfectly relevant.
From a global perspective, we have strong ambition to keep growing in this sector. There are regional specificities that will require local strategy adjustments but our ambition is to grow a strong and consistent presence of Kipling in Travel Retail worldwide and ultimately to offer our customer a unique Kipling experience during their journey.

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About Kipling

We empower you to go your own way. That’s why we’ve merged thoughtful designs with casual coolness.

We design bags to inspire mobility and lighten your life. #LiveLight

How did it all start?

Our tale is one of great passion and creativity (plus the odd stroke of luck!) that goes back to the spring of '87. That was the year when three young designers pals in Antwerp stumbled upon a happy accident on a loom and discoverd crinkled nylon fabric... and voila, the idea for Kipling was born. Having hit upon a winning formula they wasted no time in creating the affordable, sporty and functional bags and lifestyle essentials that have gone on to become wardrobe favourites for women in 65 countries across the world.

Kipling collaborations

Since 2006, our spirit of playful adventure has led us to collaborate with some of the most exciting young designers around. These fashion-forward special collections have seen us work with fresh global talent including Cathy Pill (Belgium), El Delgado Buil (Spain), Gloria Coelho (Brazil), Girls from Omsk (Belgium) Helena Christensen (Denmark) and Peter Pilotto (UK). Who’ll be next? Keep your eyes peeled!

VF Corporation (NYSE: VFC) is a global leader in the design, manufacture, marketing and distribution of branded lifestyle apparel, footwear and accessories. The company’s largest brands are The North Face®, Vans®, Timberland®, Wrangler®, Lee®and Nautica®. For more information, visit

Did you know?

Kipling is sold in 67 countries

Every 2 seconds a Kipling bag is sold

35 million women have bought Kipling since 1987

VF Europe - Kipling Division
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