Cruise-ship retailer Harding Retail has announced two major new contracts with Carnival UK and Thomson Cruises.

The contracts with Carnival UK include both P&O and Cunard fleets.
The announcement follows a major company rebranding with a revised name, fresh logo and new website. Harding Retail, previously known as Harding Brothers, says the decision reflects ‘a much more customer-focused retail approach, driven by the rapidly changing nature of passenger expectations onboard cruiseships’.

Commenting on the new contracts, Harding Retail Chief Executive Neil Harding said: "We are extremely pleased to continue our successful partnerships with Carnival UK and Thomson Cruises and we look forward to developing our business in the future. Regarding our new branding, we have historically been known as Harding Brothers since it was founded in 1930. In today’s environment we felt the name no longer accurately reflected or did justice to what we are as a company – which is first and foremost a retailer. Yes, our specialism is cruiseships – which is an unusual environment – but the retailing principles are the same. Harding Retail quite simply encapsulates all that we stand for in a concise and professional way."

The name and logo change is just one element of a far greater emphasis by the company on passenger profiling and market research in order to provide the optimum retail offer for passengers, underpinned by exceptional service.

Explains Harding Retail Marketing Director Richard Antrum added: "The world cruising market is showing strong growth and is attracting a wider range of passenger profiles than ever before, including singles, couples and families of all ages and all demographics.  This is a global phenomenon and includes the UK where one in eight holidays now booked through travel agents is a cruise, compared to one in twenty five holidays booked ten years ago. This presents a tremendous retail sales opportunity."

For Harding Retail, putting the customer at the centre has never been more important.

"We are now putting processes into place that are enabling us to much better understand the purchasing patterns by passengers in our shops," noted Harding Retail Managing Director Harold Gittelmon.

Service levels are seen as crucial and Harding Retail is committed to employing high performance sales teams, all of whom undertake a dedicated sales and service training programme. "Our sales colleagues at sea are critical to our success, so finding the right people is crucial. Harding Retail has become a leader in onboard cruiseship retailing. It would be easy to stand still, but the market is not standing still. Harding Retail is not just moving with it, but ensuring that we stay ahead of the game," added Gittelmon.