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On Friday 23 July, our industry bade farewell to one of its longest-serving and most respected and popular retailers – Aldeasa US President Rod Wiltshire (pictured second from right above), who is taking well-earned retirement from full-time work (though he will remain an advisor/consultant to the Autogrill-owned company).
Rod worked with Alpha/Aldeasa for 15 years, having previously been with Ocean Trading for 20 years (with what he describes light-heartedly as “a parole of 10 years” in between with House of Fraser and Selfridges).
That’s a working career of 45 years, most of it in our sector, though there must be something special in the Florida air as Rod does not look a day over 50 (mind you, as the photos below show, he has changed a little over the years…).
He tells me how happy those years have been. Now Rod is off to enjoy other elements of his life with his wife Beryl, including getting his golf handicap down to 15 (some concerted work may be required – Rod is one of the few industry golfers that I may just about be all-square with after 18 holes of match play).
Aldeasa, he says, has been extremely supportive in his retirement process and he expresses his appreciation for the company’s support in his transition to the next chapter of his life.
Rod also pays tribute to his Alpha/Aldeasa team, noting: “As with any success, on whatever scale, it can only be achieved by great teamwork and I had a great team in Orlando and am eternally grateful for their professionalism and all their hard work and support during my time in the US.
“They created a genuine partnership with our suppliers which, I believe, had a major positive impact on the Orlando operations.”
Those words typify Rod’s generosity of spirit, a trait reflected many times down the years in the personal donations he made to various causes, notably one that he discovered long before the travel retail community did – cleft charity The Smile Train.
On a personal note, Rod’s words of encouragement and support to me during my current illness hit the right note to a rare degree, leaving me in no doubt that I would come through this test.
Several readers have asked whether we planned to acknowledge Rod’s huge contribution to the business and we do it with the utmost pleasure. He’s been a fantastic, professional servant to our business and a thoroughly decent and fine man.
Rod can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Just don’t expect an answer when he’s out working on that golf handicap.