‘A Brand New World – A Challenging Future’

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

TFWA’s huge ‘Brand the World, Challenge the Future’ advertisement adorns the Palais directly opposite The Moodie Report’s temporary French Riviera headquarters at the annual TFWA World Exhibition.

Perhaps they should change the slogan to ‘A Brand New World – A Challenging Future’, such are the arguably unprecedented pressures facing the travel retail sector amid the greatest global financial crisis since the 1930s Great Depression.

I’ve been here for two days now and already it’s clear there’s a sombre mood around the place. This is my 21st year in Cannes and I’ve seen a few shows take place under the shadows of various crises. The atmosphere back in 1999, post the abolition of intra-EU duty free, was none too jolly and of course the 2001 event took place just weeks after the tragedy of 9/11.

But this is different. This is global, unprecedented and unpredictable. It’s hitting – or is about to hit – all product sectors, virtually all markets. The world is caught up in a bewildering set of events of which only one dynamic now seems a given – widespread recession.

What began as a steady slowdown in growth of year-on-year passenger numbers is now increasingly moving into negative comparative figures (Changi, Hong Kong, BAA airports in recent weeks, for example). The job losses are spreading rapidly from their starting point of the financial community into the service and manufacturing sectors. Jobless people don’t usually travel.

I’ve been running businesses through several of the crises mentioned above. It’s the first real test since I launched The Moode Report in late 2002. Like every business out there I am now having to review costs and strategy. Like any employer I’m conscious of my responsibilities to my team (17 of them), their mortgages and family lives. Prudence, not panic, is required. In fact it’s mandatory.

Brighter days will come – they always do. The key for all of us is to ensure we’re around to greet them. The weather forecast for the next few days here is brightening. Let’s hope it’s a symbol for the trading outlook. [Picture: Minox DC 8011]

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