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When executive retirements are announced they usually have a certain weary familiarity, which seldom do justice to the individual concerned’s contribution to a company or sector.
So it was nice to see the genuine warmth and effusiveness with which JTI Regional President Martin Braddock paid tribute to Eddie Touma (pictured above), the tobacco house’s Worldwide Duty Free Vice President, who is retiring after nearly 30 years with the company.
“I want to thank Eddie for his outstanding contribution over the past three decades,” said Braddock. “Eddie’s leadership has been key in transforming our worldwide duty free business into a modern and customer-focused organisation. He leaves behind him a very capable team which will ensure a continued excellent service to our customers and consumers.”
Eddie also leaves (well hopefully he won’t) a legacy of very real friendships in the channel that transcend business. In The Moodie Report’s opinion, he has been one of the true gentlemen of travel retail, as well as a driving force behind one of its very best concepts – the JTI Smokers’ Lounge, which adroitly addresses smokers’ needs as well as non-smokers’ sensitivities.
Eddie deserves a rich and fulfilling next chapter in his life – though we suspect complete retirement won’t be on the Touma agenda.
And JTI, for reasons known to many in the trade that need not be articulated here, deserves high praise too for the acutely sensitive way in which they have handled the difficult matter of Eddie’s succession, which for now is in the temporary hands of another excellent industry veteran, David Francis, the long-time Gallaher executive who headed the company’s travel retail business prior to its acquisition by JTI.
In such a corporate era, it’s good to see the human touch so in evidence by a leading multi-national.