Where we come from

Global Blue has been a market leader in Globe Shopper services since it pioneered the concept of Tax Free Shopping over 37 years ago.

The concept of Tax Free Shopping was pioneered on Monday 4 August 1980, when passengers sailing from Trelleborg, Sweden, to Germany were told they could receive a full VAT refund in cash by presenting their purchases to customs. This was the birth of the modern Tax Free Shopping concept.

Throughout the 1980s, we expanded outside Sweden, launching first in neighbouring Scandinavian countries, then in other European countries including France, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and the United Kingdom.

The 1990s saw our European expansion accelerate rapidly, with operations opening in over 10 new markets across the continent, including Italy, Spain, Ireland, Denmark and Switzerland. As the European Union dropped borders between member states, our international refund network also began to serve travellers at their final departure from the EU.

The decade also saw the business expand beyond Europe’s borders for the first time. In 1993 we launched operations in Singapore, followed by other markets in Asia and the Americas, including Japan, South Korea and Argentina. By 1999 we were refunding eight million travellers per year.

The year 2000, a milestone for the business, saw the launch of Currency Choice, our Dynamic Currency Conversion service. This was our first complementary standalone product, which was quickly followed by a range of marketing and processing services aimed at maximising globe shopper interactions for our partners around the globe.

The 2000s also saw the business move its headquarters to Switzerland and accelerate its global expansion, with Tax Free Shopping and Currency Choice operations launched in 15+ markets throughout Europe and Asia. In 2009 we launched SHOP magazine, helping our merchant partners better engage with globe shoppers around the world.

In 2011, we launched our Intelligence division, allowing us to glean insights about our globe shopper customers. In the same year we also cemented our position as world leader in digital Tax Free Shopping with the launch of eTRS, the electronic refund system developed on behalf of the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore.

Over the past few years we have continued to grow quickly, launching Tax Free Shopping operations in a number of new markets, most recently Malaysia, the Bahamas and China. In 2016 we expanded our Dynamic Currency Conversion business with the acquisition of Dynamic Currency Conversion business Currency Select, allowing us to introduce Global Blue to new markets in Asia and the Middle East.