UKTRF AGM: Forum unanimously elects interim Nigel Keal as Chair, creates new position for regional airports

LONDON – The UK Travel Retail Forum has appointed Nigel Keal as Chairperson, in a vote held at its 24th Annual General Meeting held in Central London.

Since early 2022, Keal has been fulfilling the role on an interim basis while the incumbent, Rachel Bulford, took maternity leave. Rachel recently took the decision not to continue in her role as chair, and on Thursday, UKTRF’s Board of Directors unanimously put him forward for the permanent position, and members voted to endorse their decision in an unopposed election held at the Forum’s AGM.

Keal has three decades of experience in senior duty free and travel retail roles in commercial positions. 

During the AGM, members also voted to shake-up the Forum’s leadership by creating a new Directorship to represent regional airports – who make up a significant proportion of UKTRF’s 60-organisation strong membership base. Laura Page, Head of Commercial at Birmingham Airport, has been appointed to the Board in the newly created role. Page already leads the Forum’s sustainability sub-group and led the development of UKTRF’s ESG statement, which was published recently on the Forum’s relaunched website,

The AGM was held in Mayfair, Central London, with dozens of members from across the UK joining to hear updates on UKTRF’s many advocacy projects, including arrivals duty free, tax free shopping, sustainability and the Government-backed One Too Many campaign.

Julie Lassaigne, Secretary General of ETRC, joined the event from Brussels to give UKTRF members an update on the travel retail landscape in Europe and the association’s current priorities. Members also received a presentation of the latest ETRC Business Performance Index by Steve Hillam, Managing Director of the travel retail research specialists Pi Insight.

Commenting on his appointment and the AGM’s success, Keal said: “I’m delighted to have been elected as the Chair of UKTRF. Fulfilling the role on a temporary basis over the last sixteen months has been a great privilege, and I’m pleased both the Board and membership have put their faith in me for another year.”

“Post-Brexit, the travel retail landscape in the UK is incredibly unique. The role of organisations like UKTRF in helping businesses navigate the many commercial and regulatory challenges they face is more important than ever, and I’m proud that my time as interim Chair oversaw a significant period of growth for the Forum. As members heard yesterday at our in-person AGM, the UKTRF team has an ever-expanding range of advocacy projects, and we work hard to secure the best possible conditions for the travel retail channel.

“I look forward to another positive year for UKTRF and for our industry’s recovery.”

Thanking former UKTRF Chair Rachel Bulford, Director of Retail at Gatwick Airport, Keal added: “I would also like to thank my predecessor, Rachel Bulford for being an excellent UKTRF chair, Board member, and mentor to me during this transition.”