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Over the years, through the course of my work, I have been fortunate enough to attend many great sporting events. The invitations, and corresponding hospitality, have included horse-racing at Ascot, arena polo at Hickstead, tennis at Wimbledon and several rugby union matches, among them the nerve-shredding 1999 Five Nations (as was) game in Paris, which Wales ultimately edged by 34 points to 33, and the spine-tingling 11-9 Six Nations victory over England in 2005. The latter was particularly memorable as it involved a) a trip to Cardiff on the Orient Express b) set up the first of Wales’ three Grand Slams in eight years and c) won me a shed-load of money on side bets, thanks to my faith in the form – and boot – of a certain Gavin Henson. Recalling THAT tackle on Matthew Tait can still bring a smile to my face on the most dismal of days.

Rebecca Mann and Rupert Firbank raise a glass to Lord’s Bicentenary

Earlier this month, I added cricket to my sporting portfolio, courtesy of Accolade Wines and Hardys (the official wine of England cricket), at a very special outfield dinner to celebrate the Bicentenary of Lord’s. The black-tie event included drinks and dancing in the Long Room, a very animated panel discussion about a certain South African-born player’s autobiography, and an HRB (Heritage Reserve Bin) Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 so delicious it defies description, although “ambrosial” comes close. It was quite a night.
Rain would have stopped play – but the party powered on

I will admit, however, to being slightly nervous beforehand, as my entire cricket knowledge could fit comfortably on the back of a stamp, and still leave plenty of room for ‘Calon Lân’. I barely know my googlies from my grubbers, I thought a Jaffa was an orange, and was convinced a dibbly-dobbly was complete and utter fabrication – so I was far from reassured by the advice of a certain Facebook Friend, who counselled: “Just remember the scrum-half is offside when the caddy hits a forehand slice to third base.” Thankfully salvation came in the form of an old school friend, who reassured me: “There’s booze there, you’ll be fine.”
Walking the walk: from the Long Room to the pitch

And so I was, although “booze” in no way, shape or form comes close to describing the cornucopia of fine wines that awaited guests that evening in the Tent of Dreams. Guided by the ever-dashing Accolade Wines Commercial Director Global Travel Retail Rupert Firbank, I Mannfully sampled them all (I’ve been mentored by Mr Moodie; ’nuff said).
Having a ball with Hardys wines

The Hardys wines were matched in quality by the calibre of my fellow dinner guests, who included several members of the UK World Duty Free Group team, and the effervescent P&O Buyer Charlotte Barton. But the evening’s entertainment began in earnest when cricket royalty and Ashes heroes Messrs Anderson (James), Collingwood (Paul), Hoggard (Matthew) and Jones (Simon) took to the stage, for a spot of wine-tasting and pontificating about Mr Pietersen’s recent revelations.

Hardys is the official wine of England cricket

Their observations were frank, funny and forthright, albeit peppered with quite a few words I can’t print here. Anderson noted briskly: “We’ve got cricket to play – and more important things to worry about than someone’s book. The issues that have been brought up? It’s sad really. You don’t achieve [the wins we’ve had] without guys pulling in the same direction. I can’t quite get my head around it.”

Collingwood echoed that opinion. “I don’t quite understand it,” he declared. “The last seven years have been one of the most successful eras of the England cricket team. Kevin Pietersen has done a lot for English cricket – and English cricket has done a lot for him. This is just one man’s opinion, against everybody else’s. I’m always very wary of guys bringing out books because they sound bitter.”

England’s dream team reunited

He added: “We’ve had three Ashes wins, one in Australia [and all the other wins]. Look at the positives. If you think the England dressing room was so divided, there’s no *censored* chance we’d have won any of those, I can tell you. I had some of the best times of my life, with a great group of lads, travelling around the world, all together, having fun and playing good cricket on the park.”

THAT HRB Cabernet Sauvignon 2007

Jones was a tad more forbearing: “When he came in to the team, he was a young lad, keen to impress. But guys change, they find their feet and they move on. Now, I’ve not been in that dressing room [of late], so these other guys know exactly what went on. But for Kevin to come out and say the things he has, there must be some truth behind it. The thing is, from a neutral point of view, there’s an argument for him, and there’s an argument against him…We’ll have to see what happens in the next few weeks. I’m sure Kevin’s the happiest man in the world at the moment because the press have done him a massive favour, Twitter has gone bonkers, and he’s selling books.”

No flannel from this panel in the Tent of Dreams

Hoggard, however, was much more critical. “I don’t think we will see Kevin Pietersen apologise,” he stated. “I think he is a very bitter man. I think he is getting a lot of his anger out in his book, which is a fantastic way to sell a book before Christmas…He’s [behaving] like a little kiddie in the school ground.”

Debate about the chronicles of Kevin was duly replaced by some good-natured banter about ball-shining, selection policies, and Andrew “Freddie” Flintoff’s prodigious drinking abilities, which had guests creased up (ahem) with laughter. Jones could easily carve out a second career as a stand-up.

Fast mover: Ashes hero Simon Jones meets The Moodie Report’s all-rounder

Emboldened by my afore-mentioned divine HRB Cab Sauv, after dinner I introduced myself to my fellow Welshman, and we chin-wagged at length as only the Taffia can. His wife hails from the same village as my mother; he happily signed my cricket ball (best table favour ever?!) for my still-green-with-envy, cricket-mad spouse; and we are now Twitter besties. Tidy.

The evening concluded in style, with music and dancing back in the Long Room, where it had all begun. Huge thanks to the Accolade team for their amazing hospitality, and a rare opportunity to experience the hidden treasures of Lord’s. Howzat for a peerless night out?

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I’m quite worried. The Moodie Report prides itself on being ahead of our rivals on virtually all the big news stories in travel retail. But this time it looks as though we have been well and truly scooped.

On Saturday we will launch the latest edition of ’Moodie Live’, our popular live-streaming coverage of key travel events, at the TFWA World Exhibition in Cannes.

But hey, it looks as though our colleagues at DFNI have beaten us to it…

The publication’s website today announced ‘The DFNI Blog – updates from TFWA Cannes 2014′, noting: “The DFNI team is in full force at the Tax Free World Association World Exhibition & Conference in Cannes this year. Read the latest updates from Gary Scattergood (GS), Kapila Gohel (KG) and Andrew Pentol (AP) as they meet and network with retailers, suppliers and colleagues from the global travel-retail industry.”

Good for them though they seem to have started very early. Competition is positive and imitation the finest form of flattery. But, more importantly, it will make a refreshing difference from replicating without verification damaging claims from The Bangkok Post and The Denver Post of recent days (see below). Maybe it’s what passes for journalism these days. In my days running DFNI I would have called it copying. And I would have called it irresponsible.



That’s not some cheap shot at a rival and in that context it’s worth noting that we generally have a better relationship with our media rivals than is widely suspected. Hey, even that equally gnarled (as I) old bulldog Douglas Archibald Newhouse and me, who have been known to have the odd Ali-Frazier-like spat in the past , generally try to have a drink together at trade shows and compare (certain) notes, especially on matters of journalistic ethics.


So what prompted me to write the Blog above? Straightforward really. I feel journalists have a duty of care to try to get the facts right and never to regurgitate damaging claims made elsewhere without a serious effort at verifying them. Speaking to the parties involved in the Denver and Bangkok instances, as I did (and therefore knowing that others didn’t), it quickly became clear that the newspapers concerned  were well wide of the mark on several key points.

That matters. If an application for an injunction has been rejected, that’s a pretty important detail to add to a story that says a losing bidder has requested a court to “issue an injunction to withdraw the contract”. If one was to actually contact the airport authority in question (or the court) as we did (as well as contacting both retailers cited in the dispute), one would learn very quickly that the application had been rebutted.

Similarly to write the following without input from either airport authority or retailer is simply unfair: “Thailand’s finance minister Prajin Juntong is considering to [sic] open up the duty-free market to more operators at five airports in the country stating that several operators, including many major department stores, have expressed an interest in running duty-free concessions at airports.

“King Power is the country’’s largest duty-free retailer operating at the sole concession at the airports overseen by the Airports of Thailand.

“Juntong aims to allow more duty-free retailers to operate at Suvarnabhumi, Don Mueang, Chiang Mai, Phuket and Hat Yai airports, according to the Bangkok Post. The contracts awarded by operator Airports of Thailand last 10 years and can be renewed for another four years.”

Note The Bangkok Post is first cited as far down as paragraph three. Perhaps DFNI should have checked, as we did, the actual status of the Thai contract and of the renewal. If they had, the article would have been taken down immediately from the website by any responsible Editor. I suspect King Power is not shaking in its boots.

Why do I care about what others write? Simple. Because, as mentioned, journalists have a responsibility to be accurate and fair. The first thing I learned in journalism school (actually from a tough Editor called Julian Fox) was that to repeat a libel is a libel. It is no defence that someone else said it first. I constantly repeat that mantra to my journalists, learning from our own lessons of the past. The key parties in both cited cases expressed astonishment to me that they had not been contacted by DFNI. Alas, that damages not only that title’s reputation but also besmirches trade journalism as a whole. Something I care about greatly.

Many stories about our industry appear in mainstream media, sometimes accurate, sometimes not. It’s perfectable permissable for a journalist to quote (with attribution) ‘reports’ but not, if they include content that is damaging to one or more parties, to simply repeat the material without attempting to verify it. There is no golden rule, it’s a case-by-case question of judgement.

The Twitter response (below) to our story from DFNI Editor Gary Scattergood, a nice young fellow, while amusing, was a bit disappointing (“Thought for the Day: People in interim glass bureaus (sic) should not throw stones”), only confirming my view that the ‘Twit’ in ‘Twitter’ too often comes to the fore in a world of changing journalistic values.

dfni500 DFNI Screen grab


One Response to “Opening a Cannes of worms”

  1. Carlos Gallego says:

    Bad times for journalism. Also.

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‘Been dreaming of this since a child
I’m on top of the world.’ – Imagine Dragons

I am writing from familiar turf. Or to be more precise, familiar air space. I’m 34,000 feet up in the sky, flying over the Siberian city of Novosibirsk, 3,140 miles and six-and-a-half hours away from London.


I’m on Cathay Pacific 251 out of Hong Kong heading home to the UK. I’ve been listening to the beautiful choral sounds of UK boys’ choir Libera (based on the Libera Me portion of the Requiem Mass) and uncannily as I begin this Blog they break into that most wonderful of songs  ‘Going Home’. I always associate this song, based on the Largo from Dvorak’s New World (No 9) Symphony, with the great Paul Robeson and it never fails to move me.


But where is home? I’m not so sure anymore. Christchurch the beautiful, earthquake-ravaged city of my youth? No more. London, my adopted town? Physically perhaps, spiritually no. Maybe up here in the sky is where I belong, a perennial stateless citizen of the world, moving across time Zones, lost forever in translation (and forever looking for Scarlett Johansson).


Maybe that’s the wrong movie. I gave a speech earlier this month at advertising specialist JCDecaux Airport’s annual seminar in London and jokingly likened myself to Mehran Karimi Nasser, the Iranian who lived at Charles de Gaulle for 18 years and who inspired the Tom Hanks movie’ The Terminal’. Maybe I am Nasser’s successor, Terminal Man 2. Or is it airplane man? Certainly I find myself having to double check that I have my belt and shoes on, so often am I forced to take them off.

Terminal_martinBut here’s the thing. When you wake up, as I invariably do, flying over somewhere like Novosibirsk, sleep deprived yet wired, and watch the onscreen map in front of you tracking your journey over places that you will never actually get any closer than 34,000 feet to, a sense of wonder kicks in. At least it does for me.

flightpath 2

It’s, I estimate, some 50 years since I first stepped onboard an aeroplane. They were pretty small steps as I was eight years old, flying out of Christchurch Airport to Wellington, which I can tell you back then was the really, really big smoke! What a magical day that was. Can you remember your first flight? Or the reaction of your kids when you first took them on one?

Well I’m long past youth; left early adulthood in my dust; hey, even middle age is somewhere back in my slipstream, goddamn it;  but to see that moving map and watch this plane working its way around the top of the world brings out that little kid again. Farwell Novosibirsk! Hello Chelyabinsk!

The past week encapsulates my life in travel retail. I flew to Asia last Saturday, amid final countdown to The Moodie Report’s annual Cannes Print Edition (think the collected works of Dostoyevsky – in length rather than artistic quality I hasten to add – then multiply by two and you’ll get the picture). I caught up with some key contacts and old friends, visited some remarkable retail operations, wrote around the clock for our Cannes issue and kept feeding anti-insomnia drugs to that damned website that never sleeps. Full on. And fantastic.

As I track across Siberia (here comes Severdobinsk!) I feel pretty reflective about it all. I talk a lot to many others in this industry who, like me, travel a lot. They, too, talk of this almost indefinable feeling of being in a cocoon, high in the sky, thousands of miles from their loved ones, flying to or back from an important schedule of meetings. No-one can touch you up here in the sky. No-one can reach you. This is what, maybe I should dub ‘travel retail-ness’.

The great Czech writer Milan Kundera wrote a wonderful book called The Unbearable Lightness of Being set during the Prague spring. I’m going to write a sequel set during my travel retail years. It’s the follow-up to my best seller ‘Free of Duty Free’ and it’s going to be called The Unbeatable Delightfulness of Boeing.trio

[A selfie with Sunil Tuli and Rakhita Jaywardena in Rakhita's King Power Traveler office in Hong Kong]

cruise trevor

[How's this for a working environment? Long-time industry executive Trevor Moore who is running the travel retail operation at the spectacular new Kai Tak Cruise Terminal on the grounds of Hong Kong's famous old airport. Look out for my report in this week's edition of The Moodie e-Zine.]

cruise terminal view

cruise vuiew

cruise nice

cruise montblanc

Cissy Cecilia and MM

[With Cissy Chan, left, and Cecilia Lam of Airport Authority Hong Kong's retail team after a nice lunch at the Regal Airport Hotel to discuss the authority's latest very exciting plans. Details on The Moodie Report.com soon.]

mm in office

[Room with a view: At the offices of DFS Co-Founder, the amazing Bob Miller]

hkia the peak 2

[Dining airside at Hong Kong International Airport's superb Peak Lookout restaurant, which I gave a 5-plane rating to on Airpinion.com]

hkia the peak 3


hkia the peak

HKIa lilq fab

[Apologies for the mediocre iPhone images but the real thing is fantastic. Does spirits and wine retailing get any better than DFS Group's offer at Hong Kong International Airport?]

HKIA liq

hkia mjui

[I love this Muji to Go store, airside at Hong Kong International Airport. It's always busy and has a really fun and eclectic mix. Every airport should have a Mjui.]

hr piano

[Don't shoot the piano player: Look, I love much about Heathrow Airport but this just won't do. Terminal 3's self-playing piano - which wasn't playing by the way - is about as welcoming as those trollies. Compare and contrast with Incheon International Airport below, also airside.]

incheon concert

One Response to “I’m on top of the world”

  1. Ed Aster says:

    Absolutely enjoyed this blog, I feel very much the same way about travel and flying. John and I just arrived in Hong Kong and the trip pitching FlyrBuyr has been a great success. Very good interest and much to organize and follow up.

    Many thanks again for your time and insights. Have a great Cannes.
    With best regards
    Ed Aster

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I’m at London Heathrow Airport T3, about to jump another long-haul flight. Desperately trying to buy an upgrade from my economy ticket as I need to work non-stop for the next few hours on our Cannes print issue which is looming menacingly over me like a modern- day guillotine.

I’ve had my compulsory Paul Smith fix, having bought yet another pair of the world’s greatest socks from one of the world’s greatest airport stores. The T3 version is a smaller cousin of those at T5 (currently closed for refurbishment) and T2 but it’s pretty damn good all the same. The service is always good (James and Julia chatted away to me today about the various Paul Smith airport stores and served me quickly and graciouslsy).



I also took the opportunity to conduct my first ‘Moodie Vintage View’ review of an airport wine offer, in this case run by World Duty Free Group. There’s some good wines in there alright but the presentation and merchandising could be better. The newer Heathrow terminals are an improvement but even here it’s clear that World Duty Free is giving a lot of intelligent thought to ranging and segmentation of the offer. Watch out for my review soon.

My flight beckons. No upgrades available so I’ll be writing those late Cannes features with the seat in front of me shoved back (together with my laptop) into my nostrils. Such is the loneliness of the long-distance writer when Cannes press week comes-a-calling.





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Well my friends are gone and my (last) hair is grey
I ache in the places where I used to play
- Leonard Cohen, Tower of Song

“Why haven’t you updated your Blog? Is something wrong?” – an e-mail from a concerned reader 7/10/2014

12 years ago I gave birth. An immaculate conception that created a monster. A little one but a monster all the same. Now it’s grown up to be a real life-size monster that frightens the life out of me every day, unpredictable, hyperactive, irrespressible.

It’s called The Moodie Report and, heck, it’s even got children! And you know what? It won’t stop breeding! The Moodie Blog, The Moodie Podcast, The Moodie View, The Moodie print edition, The Moodie e-Zine, The Moodie e-Newsletter, hey even some cousins such as the recently born My Wine Journey and it is rumoured to be with child again. It’s out of control. Please, someone, help!

Let me explain. In the travel retail publishing world, October is silly season. In the autumn of my mid-life, way back in the serenely calm days of running DFNI in the late 90s and early 21st century, things would get pretty busy around now as we put in long hours preparing our TFWA World Exhibition edition.

Looking back, those days seem akin to sitting on a sun lounger by the pool drinking ice-cold Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc (actually, make that by a pool filled with ice-cold Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc). The great, great Leonard Cohen (whatever else you do today, log onto Amazon and buy his new album Popular Problems, sit back and bask in the presence of genius), at the ripe old age of 74, once said at a UK concert: “It’s been a long time since I stood on the stage in London. It was about 14 or 15 years ago. I was 60 years old, just a kid with a crazy dream.”


I feel a bit like that. 2002, age 46, just a kid with a crazy dream. The Monster was about to climb out of his cage. Now it’s like this – Dear Abbie – I’m a father at nearly 60 and I can’t control my family!

In the travel retail publishing world 2014-style, at least in The Moodie Report version, things are a little different from the halcyon 90s. For a start we have to deal with one of the monster’s most disruptive children – The Trinity Forum – in mid-September (now a permanent timing for the event). I won’t even begin to bore you with details of how much work around-the-Big Ben-sized-clock that involves for the likes of Dermot Divot (sorry, Davitt, this is not a golf Blog), me and Sarah Genest. Writing intros, speeches, moderating notes long into the night and (just as often) on a piece of paper minutes before you go on stage (or, frequently, while you are on stage).

And the rest of the business doesn’t just stop because you’re up on stage trying to entertain, inform and stimulate 350 people, managing technical hitches and pretending to appear calm when your brain is on the verge of a rather messy stress explosion. There is also that worst-behaved monster’s child of all, The Moodie Report.com, to maintain day and night – big breaking stories at 05.30 in the morning that just make you want to cry when the pressure is at bursting point. How dare you go buy The Nuance Group Dufry! How dare World Duty Free Group be so inconsiderate as to announce it is seeking business alliances! Believe it or not, the stories that most excite me sometimes also draw a barrage of curses out of my inner soul that helps explain why I am surrounded by so many monstrous kids.

Since then it’s been a case of combining the day and night job with the not-so-small matter of trying to produce our biggest-ever Cannes Print Edition, a special ‘Category Insight’ fashion supplement (another young, already badly behaved child), and an amazing (though I say so myself, take a bow Dermot Davitt and John Rimmer, their work not mine) TFWA corporate publication, maybe the best client publication I have seen in travel retail.

I’m thinking of having Dermot and me fitted with a new GPS device that measures our written word count each day. I reckon at our current rate, either of us could have bashed out War & Peace in under a week. Tolstoy you had it easy!

When I retire, a prospect that starts to entice me inexorably, blissfully, magnetically, seductively like the Sirens’ song did entice Odysseus in Homer’s The Odyssey (by the way did you know that he played golf? Well he did, which gave rise to that old song, Homer on the Range), I am going to write a best-selling autobiography called Free of Duty at Last. It will be twice the size of Don Quixote (940 pages), involve just as much travel (no windmills though I will tilt at a few other things) and I shall knock it all out over a couple of bottles of Cloudy Bay, Matua, Giesen or Craggy Range Sauvignon Blanc (maybe two of each), making sure along the way it is embedded with video and podcasts.

book_cover_moodie_3_lowres2 revise

I have lost count of how many features this tyrant of a Print Editor called Davitt expects of me by next Tuesday. If I did stop to make the calculation I might just go in search of a family of lemmings and join them on their next day-trip out. Along the way, we’ll crank out another e-Zine, write and give a speech (yesterday at the JCDecaux airport advertising workshop), and ensure ‘the website that never sleeps’ doesn’t reach for the anti-insomnia drugs.

So, dear concerned reader (I knew I had one out there…) that is what happened to my Blog, another monstrous monster’s child. But here’s the thing. You know, I love each and every one of them. Monsters eh? Can’t live with ‘em, can’t live without ‘em. That’s why for me the Monsters’ Ball remains the only party in town.



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[Dermot 'Divot' and Martin Moodie preparing for Ryder Cup action]

I’ve escaped intact, exhilarated in fact from four days at the 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles near Edinburgh, despite being holed up with some of the most dangerous company in travel retail.

Courtesy of Dubai Duty Free Executive Vice Chairman Colm McLoughlin, I and my loyal lieutenant Dermot Davitt (the current holder of the Dubai Duty Free Golf World Cup) have been attending golf’s most famous and exciting event, meeting a surprising number of travel retail executives on the fairways and in the hospitality areas of the exquisite Gleneagles course in Perthshire.

In golf parlance, I teed off rather poorly when, in my excitement at what lay ahead, I clean forgot to pick up my suitcase from a perfect lie on the carousel at Edinburgh Airport, discovering as the cab pulled into my hotel (the excellent Fraser Suites) that it was an errant drive. Back we went, and back we came. Me cursing like Phil Mickleson at the post-Ryder Cup press conference, my driver a very happy man indeed.

Delighted to have finally reached my hotel, I was a little taken aback to see the room set-up. I was sharing a junior suite with Dermot (who had arrived a day earlier), though only in the knowledge that the original double bed arrangement would be changed to two singles. It had been. Right next to one another.

Strategically moving my suitcase and a large bedside table and lamp between the two beds (I had no barbed wire), I settled in for what would be an eventful few days.

Let me explain the context to the above comments. I am perfectly happy to share a room with Dermot ‘Divot’ who is as straight as a Rory McIlroy drive but we’ve got ‘previous’ you see.

Way back in 2010 we were both stranded in New York for many days after the volcanic eruption of Mount Eyjafjallajokull in Iceland caused global aviation crisis from the resultant ash fall-out.

On that occasion Dermot and I became modern-day reincarnations of Steve Martin and John Candy in the classic 80s film comedy Planes, Trains and Automobiles – in which a businessman (Steve Martin) struggles to travel home across America for Thanksgiving amid a total airline shutdown, with an obnoxious slob of a shower ring salesman (played by the brilliant, sadly departed Candy) his only companion.


[Planes, Trains & Automobiles - the original]


[And now the remake...]

Naturally at the time we argued who should play who, but I won as my three tufts of hair were the same silver as Steve Martin’s and anyway I share his name. Be afraid, very, very afraid next time Dermot tries to sell you a shower ring…

But on that occasion, at least, unlike the original heroes we did not have to share a bed (giving rise to the film’s immortal line, “Pillows? Those aren’t pillows!”). This time was different. Almost.

Needless to say, Colm and Breeda McLoughlin and their brilliant entourage of friends (including ex-Abu Dhabi Duty Free boss Mohamed Mounib and wife Karen and several pals of Colm and Breeda) took great delight in ribbing me about my choice of room partner for one of the great sporting events on the planet. Next time I’ll opt for Europe’s Lee Westwood. He’s bound to snore less and won’t keep me up drinking until post tee-time the next morning.

pho9to revise

[Left to right: Karen Mounib, Dermot 'Divot', Mohamed Mounib, Colm McLoughlin, Martin Moodie and Breeda McLoughlin]

ph4oto[Caption suggestions welcomed]

But to be (briefly) serious, what an occasion. Put Perthshire (the region surrounding Gleneagles) on your bucket list of places to go before you die. No matter if your game is as bad as mine play this beautiful course. Not “a good walk spoiled” as Mark Twain said of golf but a great walk enhanced by the sheer pleasure of being there.

Make Edinburgh right up there in your top ten cities you simply must visit. It’s both ancient and modern, understated and visually exquisite. It’s a place where you can walk for hours and just soak it in, inhabited by some of the warmest (even in winter time) people on the planet.





[Bunker mentality: Sergio Garcia prepares to get up and down from one of Gleneagles' many sand traps]

And then there was the golf. Crowds 20 deep craning their necks to gain a sight of these modern-day gladiators. The teenage prodigy McIlroy, grown not just to be a man but a sporting god. The American wunderkinds, those two tough as teak Texans Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth. The towering, flowering, never rambling Rose called Justin. The pride of the Welsh valleys called Jamie Donaldson. The unbreakable Northern Irish spirit that was Graeme McDowell. The crazed, self-administering Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) volcanic eruption of a man that was Ian Poulter after holing an impossible and crucial chip. And so many more.

photo zoom

[Martin Moodie points the way towards the golfing god that is Rory McIlroy at the beginning of the final day's singles]

A privilege to witness it.  A privilege to be in the company of great people like the McLoughlins, the Mounibs and their wonderful UAE friends. And a privilege to spend quality time with a golfing legend. No not Rory McIlroy. The Dubai Duty Free Golf World Cup champion John Candy, I mean Dermot Divot.


[Above and below: Getting up close and personal with the American supporters]



[Within minutes of the result, triumphant European supporters were sporting celebratory t-shirts]

One Response to “Planes, Trains & Automobiles – the Ryder Cup Return”

  1. Johan Schölvinck says:

    Hi Martin and Dermot,

    Great reading, your Ryder Cup adventure!

    While watching the BBC in NL and contemplating the near-inclusion in the Ryder Cup team of our Dutch golfing hero Joost Luiten (who did win the Welsh Open as a consolation), while celebrating the European win and seeing the best ever commercial for European cohesion take place, and now reading about your adventures, I can’t think but:

    -You two certainly formed a Fourball in the hotel, albeit not a King Pair (cricket). A Foursome was apparently not granted by Paul McGinley since you two were with four Scottish-Arab team members
    -The word ‘whisky’ was not mentioned in your blog, but I did see a Guinness and Marlborough white chardonnay on the bar picture, so what happened on the course and how did you fill up the Ryder Cup?
    -Martin, you are unwrapping nice girls in American flags, please tell me what happened as next step?

    So where does your next sporting blog come from? Ireland-New Zealand is not one of the upcoming rugby union autumn internationals…and you two are in different pools in the cricket world cup in Oz/NZ in Feb/March…hmmm…

    I fear I have to invite you over for some hockey match where the Dutch are involved and buy you a beer and a wine!

    Thanks for the nice blog, as ever,

    Johan Schölvinck

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I used to think Cannes was tough – but that was before I did London Fashion Week. Reader, after just three days racing around the whole of south east London, beset by serious hair and outfit angst, suddenly the prospect of five days on the Riviera is looking positively restful. It’s taken me a fortnight to recover sufficiently to even Blog.

And so it begins…the Toni & Guy team in action backstage at the Marchesa show

The master Mark Hampton backstage at Sophia Webster

Model No 1 heads to make-up after Hampton’s hands finish their work

True blue: Hampton’s interpretation of cyber-punk meets jungle

Shoe heaven at Sophia Webster

The actual James Read applying his best-selling self tan

Make no mistake – London Fashion Week is WILD. I was privileged enough to be invited backstage at four shows (and sit front of house at one), to watch Toni & Guy HairMeetWardrobe Global Hair Ambassador Mark Hampton and his talented team style the hair of hundreds of models at the Marchesa, Sophia Webster, Matthew Williamson and Vivienne Westwood shows.

It was genuinely fascinating. These people can work magic, with no hair request impossible. From silly o’clock in the morning (the call time for Sophia Webster was 6.30am on a Sunday) to mighty late at night, Hampton and his hairdressers created a range of different looks that included “pre-festival Boho chic” at Marchesa to “cyber-punk meets jungle” at Sophia Webster. I adored the latter’s bright cobalt dreadlocks, but my personal favourite was the gorgeous, glossy Marie Helvin-inspired curls at Matthew Williamson.

Backstage at Matthew Williamson, channelling Marie Helvin

The pre-show Matthew Williamson catwalk at One Great George Street

Glossy curls complement the clothes on the runway at Matthew Williamson

Believe me, in hair terms, there is nothing the Toni & Guy crew cannot do. And they do it in cramped, inhospitable spaces, teaming with hot lights, stressed-out make-up artists, spray-tan tents, shrieking people with clipboards, and the occasional sobbing model. For the uninitiated it’s hard to convey the atmosphere backstage but it’s a heady mix of panic, adrenaline, skill, speed and fear. In that respect it’s the fashion world’s equivalent of press day, except they do it repeatedly, multiple times on consecutive days, racing from one location to the next and starting from scratch each time. That Hampton did it all with a smile on his face – and managed to film videos and deliver mini-presentations to the press WHILE STYLING – is nothing short of miraculous. When I’m passing pages on press day I’m barely civil to myself.

But then Hampton is a bit of a star – and a very savvy signing by Toni & Guy. The inked, handsome Welshman could arguably grace the runways himself, but is far more than just a pretty face. He studied at Vidal Sassoon, honing his craft before assisting Guido Palau, one of the world’s greatest session stylists, for almost seven years. He oozes talent, charisma and a wicked sense of humour, effortlessly de-mystifying trends and how best to use a styling product.

The afternoon shift: backstage at Vivienne Westwood

Some tools of the trade on display

But Hampton doesn’t just follow trends; he creates them. At the Toni & Guy HairMeetWardrobe Global Style Hub event during LFW, Hampton previewed the four key looks he has devised for Spring/Summer 2015: City Sunlight, Floating Gardens, Worldwide Vibe and Contemplation. And in a feat I, as a child of the 80s, still can’t quite believe, he even demonstrated how to make a scrunchie look cool (in my very own hair! Swoon…)

Toni & Guy’s collaboration with Hampton, and indeed the brand’s ongoing partnership with London Fashion Week, does a sterling job of underlining its fashion credentials and British heritage, elements that translate into a key point of difference for the travel retail channel. Earlier this year Unilever International Global Travel Retail Business Manager Rosalyn Frayna told The Moodie Report: “Being involved with London Fashion Week solidifies the ‘Britishness’ of the brand. The fact that it’s a British brand in London Fashion Week makes it a product that has a unique quality in travel retail.”

At the Style Hub Hampton shows the fash pack how to wear a scrunchie

Hair by Hampton: The Moodie Report’s Rebecca Mann rocks a rad new look

Hair care remains a fledgling category in the channel, but Toni & Guy has made good initial progress, with further expansion expected. Other hair brands, such Moroccanoil, and even the mighty L’Oréal group, are also eyeing the channel with interest.

But back to London Fashion Week. I conclude this Blog with the key lessons I learned during my debut tour of duty:
- Do not, under any circumstances, attempt to participate without the Google Maps app, a London A-Z, and a pair of flats for those awkward between-show sprints.
- Sprints aside, it’s illegal to not wear vertiginous heels.
- Wear any colour you like – so long as it’s black.
- There is no such thing as too much make-up.
- Carry Berocca, plasters, painkillers, breath mints, sunglasses, Red Bull and (optional) vodka miniatures (don’t judge).
- Act nonchalant backstage, even if the models are naked/crying hysterically/both.
- Do NOT touch the shoes.
- Do not be too proud to sit on the floor next to the toilets if your iPhone is dying and the only free plug point in the entire building is located there.
- Welshmen rock (like that’s news).
- So do scrunchies.

Remember, you heard it here first. I’m off to practise my back-combing.

One Response to “Hairing around London Fashion Week with Toni & Guy”

  1. Nice Blog Rebecca but I take issue with this statement: “It’s the fashion world’s equivalent of press day, except they do it repeatedly, multiple times on consecutive days, racing from one location to the next and starting from scratch each time.”

    My average press day is every day, usually starting at 6am and never ending before 11pm, often ‘racing from one location to the next’ (flying from city to city) and ‘starting from scratch each time’ (the many various Moodie Report Interim Bureaux down the years have housed plenty of Moodie tantrums when the wi-fi won’t work). All this to room service, morning, noon and night and a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc for company.

    Whereas this lot get “naked models” (alright the odd one sobs a bit) and are constantly pampered in terms not only of catering but attention as they indeed pamper others so brilliantly themselves.

    But hey, I’m probably not the Toni & Guy target market. Because while you say: “Believe me, in hair terms, there is nothing the Toni & Guy crew cannot do” – actually there is. They can’t do mine.

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Welcome to The Moodie Blog’s first roving bureau. I’m writing this from the Fraser Suites in beautiful Edinburgh but I’ll be updating it from Gleneagles, about an hour from here.

No, there’s not a lot of travel retail business going on at Gleneagles – but there’s a lot of travel retail executives there.


That’s because a small golf tournament kicked off there today. You might have heard about it. It’s called the Ryder Cup. I’m here courtesy of Colm McLoughlin of Dubai Duty Free who has kindly invited me and my partner in publishing crime Dermot Davitt (current holder of the Dubai Duty Free Gold World Cup championship and henceforth referred to as Dermot Divot).

I arrived a day later than the rest due to the needs of The Moodie e-Zine but I’m making up for lost time fast.


Left to right; Martin Moodie, Dermot Divot and Michael McGinley

Last night we had drinks at a private function hosted by Michael McGinley, a prominent Dubai-based supplier to the duty free industry and brother to European team captain Paul McGinley. Michael is no mean golfer himself (he plays off 1) but was pipped to the Dubai Duty Free Golf World Cup last year by 1 point by none other than the aforementioned Dermot Divot. So you can imagine the banter last night.

An early night was called for after the function ended. But in the company of Colm and Divot, the call was not heeded. Divot is dangerous. Last night he was flying as all good Divots do. Always beware of the three most dangerous words in the English language when uttered by him – “Fancy a nightcap?”

As it happened I did. Then came the next four most dangerous words in the Divot vocabulary, “One for the road?”

That could have been fine. Alas, let’s just say that one (both drink and road) was not the final number.


Dermot Divot and Colm McLoughlin



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I’m exhausted. Mentally. Physically. Every which way. Running an event such as The Trinity Forum simply takes it all out of you. Besides the intensity of the preparation, it’s the pressure-cooker atmosphere of managing the introductions, the time-keeping, the speeches, the speakers, the room, the audience, the question and answer sessions and much more besides that really drains you.

I’m my own harshest critic and I always relive every moment of every session, thinking what could have been done different or better. I hate the slightest audio-visual glitch, or any other shortcoming.  My co-moderator Dermot Davitt (utterly brilliant over the past few days) is similarly perfectionist and was equally tired at the end of it all.

Hats off to my whole amazing team, in fact, from brilliant staff such as Rebecca Earley, Rebecca Mann, Sinead Moodie, Helen Pawson, Jon Elphick, Ray Heath, Gavin Lipsith, Connie Magner, Bob Wilby and Ed Lake who didn’t get to even see the event but contributed so much, to the excellent on-site team of Victoria Bowskill, Melody Ng, Matt Willey, Sarah Genest, Dermot Davitt and Claire Wates. In addition to the Forum itself, the publications below (plus a major opening video) were all produced in the preceding fortnight, some against all the odds.

Trinity projects

That feeling was eased significantly by the superb staff at the Ever Rich Duty Free-run Huan Yu VIP Terminal (below), who made our entry and exit into/from Taipei as seamless, efficient and friendly as you would fine anywhere in the world. The Trinity Forum-themed buggy was just typical of the little touches that Ever Rich Duty Free and Taoyuan Airport specialise in.


Le Clos VIP 4

Le Clos Taipei vip 1

Le Clos taipei vip 3


Le Clos Taipei VIP

Tiredness aside though, we’re feeling a quiet sense of satisfaction at a job well done. Last night I flew to Dubai with Dermot (he then went on to Dublin, me to London) and it must be said that we partook of a celebratory glass or three of the excellent Voyager Sauvignon Blanc Semillon from Australia’s Margaret River onboard Emirates maybe interrupted by the odd (never drink even numbers) of Moët & Chandon Champagne, as we pored over events of the past few days.

The only real verdict that matters of course is that of the consumer – in this case our delegates, host, sponsors and speakers. Given that we had to switch both the date and venue for this year’s Trinity, we were delighted at the overall attendence (around 345 delegates) and, more importantly, the quality of attendant. 16 of the world’s leading travel retailers were present,  as were most of its top food & beverage operators; 45 airports (including last-minute additions from Incheon and Indonesia); and many great brands.

Delegates rightly expect a number of benefits from industry conferences: great networking; good content married to efficient programme management; real insight and learnings; top-class facilities and hospitality.

It has to be said that our Taiwan hosts and event sponsors – Taoyuan Airport, Ever Rich Duty Free and Tasa Meng – excelled themselves. What wonderful, warm and gracious people they were. My personal highlight was giving The Moodie Report’s first-ever Humanitarian The Moodie Report Humanitarian Award for Outstanding Commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility in travel retail to Ever Rich Duty Free Chairman Simon Chiang (below) at the Gala Dinner on Thursday night.

trinity simon and mm

I have written many times about Mr Chiang’s leadership in giving back to the community. From the Chairman down to the newest sales advisor or the warehouse worker, the Ever Rich team are wholly committed to making society a better place. I know many rich men, some of whom regularly write cheques to good causes. I know few, who immerse themselves in the cause of humanity than Mr Chiang.

I noted on Thursday night: “Ever Rich’s combination of personal and corporate commitment has led to remarkable results across communities at home and abroad; in support for the young, the old, the disadvantaged, the dispossessed, the desperate. It has led to a wholehearted commitment to promoting the country’s heritage, history, commerce, crafts, culture, tastes and traditions, not least at Taoyuan Airport.

“That generosity of spirit is driven by the vision of one man, the generosity of one man – a remarkable, humble man who started three charity foundations in memory of his father – another man who always thought of others first despite hailing from a small and poor rural part of Taiwan – and has carried his care for the community around him throughout his buisness life.”

When he came on stage to receive the award, Mr Chiang was as humble as ever, saying “We must do more. We must keep doing more for others.” It was very moving and several tears were shed by his team and business associates as he accepted a long standing ovation.

The following evening our excellent partners at ACI and Asia Pacific and my team were invited to a private dinner at Ever Rich’s magnificent headquarters in Neihu. We took along with us as our guest Maritime Mercantile International (MMI) and Emirates Leisure Retail Group CEO Andrew Day, one of the star speakers of The Trinity Forum. Mr and Mrs Chiang and son and daughter Kevin and Michelle treated us magnificently, with some outstanding food and wines (Chateau Lafite-Rothschild, Chateau Margaux, Chateau Mouton-Rothschild) but more importantly the warmth of the family welcome. An unforgettable night.

er mm and simon

[Simon Chiang presents Martin Moodie with a beautiful Taiwanese tapestry on Friday evening]


[From left: Maritime Mercantile International and Emirates Leisure Retail Group CEO Andrew Day, Martin Moodie, Victoria Bowskill, Matt Willey and Dermot Davitt of The Moodie Report]


photo1During our stopover at Dubai International T3 we stopped off to look at one of the Le Clos stores run there by MMI – surely the best wines and premium spirits shops in travel retail. We spoke at length with sales advisor Sandy (pictured) whose knowledge of and passion for wine was deeply impressive. As we were about to depart the store for our flights, he asked if we were Messrs Moodie and Davitt. It turned out that Andrew Day had left a bottle of nice Feltham Road (excellent New Zealand Pinot Noir from Central Otago) for each of us. What a classy touch.

Le Clos MM

Le Clos 5

Le Clos 3

Le Clos 2

Le Clos (2)Thank you Andrew. Thank you Taipei. Thank you Taoyuan Airport and its partners Ever Rich Duty Free and Tasa Meng for being such gracious hosts. Now it’s back to the day job and a few short weeks to prepare our major edition of the year, our Cannes print issue. Time to take a deep breath and then it’s all on again.

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There are plenty of party animals in travel retail and, I daresay, the occasional spot of monkey business, so the choice of venue for the Travel Retail Consortium’s (TRC) annual Business Lunch last week – London Zoo – was nothing short of inspired.

London Zoo was an inspired venue for the TRC 2014 Business Lunch

As usual, the day proved to be a splendid affair, with TRC members joined by selected retailers and media guests, all of whom enjoyed a slap-up lunch and some excellent networking opportunities.

The day began with bubbles in front of the wallaby enclosure

The event – blessed by glorious sunshine – began with an al fresco Taittinger Champagne reception in front of the wallaby enclosure (not your average Friday, eh?) before moving into the Mappin Pavilion for the main event. A delicious meal was complemented by some rather fine vintages – Accolade Wines’ Flagstone Music Room Cabernet Sauvignon proved especially popular, and will be a regular feature from now on chez Mann (Rupert Firbank, you should be in sales. Oh, wait).

The entire event was imbued with an innovative animal theme

This year’s guest speaker was comedian, writer, musician and philanthropist Tony Hawks – a favourite author of my long suffering spouse, who can quote huge chunks of Round Ireland With A Fridge and was almost inspired to take up the game after reading Playing The Moldovans At Tennis.

The party table gets ready to rock…

Hawks began by explaining that he was not, in fact, the grandmaster of skateboarding Tony Hawk (though he does endeavour to respond to all skateboarding queries in his own inimitable style, despite a complete dearth of knowledge on the subject). The theme of his speech was “betting” – a central tenet of his best-selling books (reader note: bet high if Hawks ever asks you to guess how many times he can bounce a golf ball on a club).

The golf club interlude was followed swiftly by a skit with a guitar (Hawks reached number four in the UK in 1988 with Stutter Rap and number one in Australia). His speech – and singing – was peppered with killer one-liners, and was entertaining indeed.

…fuelled by a bottle or three of this rather splendid beverage

But there is a serious side to Hawks and his work. After visiting Moldova he came up with the idea of starting a care centre for needy children in Chisinau, donating half the royalties from his book into a fund for the project.

This altruism dovetails perfectly with the TRC’s commitment to raising funds for charity. Accordingly, the London Zoo lunch incorporated a charity raffle which raised well over £700 on the day. That sum will be added to other monies raised by TRC throughout the year, and presented to nominated charity The Beacon Centre in Guildford, which provides much-needed care and services (including palliative care), for people diagnosed with life-changing, progressive illnesses.

In addition, in keeping with the lunch’s animal theme, TRC Chairman Richard Thorpe announced that an additional donation would be made to the Manchester Dogs’ Home, which was set ablaze last week in a suspected arson attack that killed more than 60 animals.

Guest speaker Tony Hawks (centre) flanked by TRC Chairman Richard Thorpe and The Moodie Report’s Rebecca Mann

Huge thanks to Richard and indeed the entire TRC for their excellent hospitality, and congratulations on a memorable lunch imbued with a generous touch of animal magic.

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