The smiling face of King Kreol

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Martin Moodie
Martin Moodie is the Founder & Chairman of The Moodie Report.
Martin Moodie

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What a pleasure to attend the annual Kreol Group’s partner night in Dubai last Sunday.

Kreol is one of the unsung success stories of travel retail. Founded and owned by the charismatic and effervescent Lal Arakulath, Kreol Travel Retail handles a host of products, some developed in-house, many others on behalf of brand principles, in the Middle East and  Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia & Africa

The company’s diverse portfolio of brands straddles confectionery, food & beverage, liquor, consumer technology, toys, gifts and perfumes & cosmetics.

Lal welcomed brand principles and retailers to a day workshop followed by a great outdoor evening of drinks and food served up at the splendid Dubai Duty Free-owned Jumeirah Creekside Hotel.

I doubt I have ever seen Lal without a broad smile on his face. In fact he may qualify as travel retail’s most effervescent character. But don’t let that fool you into thinking that his is not a big and serious business. His influence, success and popularity were all reflected in the heavy attendance at his event, which drew many of the key travel retailers from the regions that Kreol covers.

Unsung? Let’s change that. I am going to sing it. Look out for my interview with Lal, which will appear in our edition that coincides with TFWA’s Singapore show in May. It’s a story, in fact a case study, of hard work, of overcoming adversity, and of entrepreneuralism, enthusiasm and business and personal integrity. All told with a smile on his face of course. He truly is King Kreol.

(Left to right) Patrick Dorais, Al Nassma Chocolate; Iain Forrest, Dufry; Martin Moodie, The Moodie Davitt Report; Lal Arakkulath and his son Kreol.
(Left to right) John Reynolds, Chalhoub Group; Edgar D’Cruz, Dubai Duty Free; Martin Moodie;
Anthony Morais, Dubai Duty Free; and Patrick Dorais, Al Nassma Chocolate
Andrew Laing and Scott Laing of fast-growing Scotch whisky house Hunter Laing and Lal Arakkulath.
Like father like son: Kreol and Lal Arakulath are all smiles as they toast a successful event.

I flew out of DXB (the new branding for Dubai International) the next day, and as usual was impressed by the diversity, depth and excellence of the commercial offering, from retail to food and beverage.

I was happy to see in the Dubai Duty Free-run bookstore in Concourse D a book by a certain Colleen Morgan on the best-sellers’ stand. Colleen is our Rhodes-based Associate Editor and the book is called ‘Throw me a Smile’. It tells the story of her daughter Lucy’s brave battle against a rare childhood cancer, which started back in 2001. I published the book in 2014 and I am delighted so say it has sold very well at Dubai Duty Free, helped greatly by the retailer’s support.


They are a wonderfully friendly team at Dubai Duty Free. Joan Suyao and Myra Garcia (above) were charming and knowledegable, while I was greeted like an old friend by Assistant Supervisor Murugiah Wignarajah (below), a Sri Lankan who has worked for Dubai Duty Free for 21 years and who always stops me to say hello when he spots me in-store.

Now it is back to England for the balance of what is turning out to an unusually mild February. Then it is back on the road for a full month: Hong Kong, Hainan, South Korea, Iceland and Orlando, Switzerland, Germany and goodness knows where else during the in-between days. Those interim bureaux are going to be busy.

With Murugiah Wignarajah in the Dubai Duty Free-run Paul Smith boutique.

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