Entering Paradise

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


The Moodie Report is in South Korea, beginning with a long overdue visit to one of the industry’s most acclaimed downtown duty free retailers, Paradise Duty Free, in Busan, right on the south coast (above).

As I write, it’s midnight local time and the waves of the Pacific are crashing in on the beach outside my room at the magnificent Paradise Hotel. It’s a beautiful view. Busan is the largest port city in the Republic of Korea and also the country’s second-largest city after Seoul.

Paradise Duty Free (pictured below) runs over 7,000sq m of retail space here over four floors. This includes an enviable roll-call of luxury brands, including Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Cartier and Tiffany. Many brand executives rate it as one of the world’s best duty free stores.


We’ll bring you our impressions later in the week as we move up to Seoul and then to Incheon for the ‘World’s Best Airports Forum’, hosted by Incheon International Airport Corporation.

If Incheon is constantly rated the world’s best airport – for example in the recent ACI ASQ ratings – London Heathrow is now challenging in many critics’ eyes for the ranking as world’s worst. The T5 fiasco has hardly helped, of course, and these are difficult days for airport operator BAA and its lead shareholder Ferrovial, which may yet face a break-up of its UK airport portfolio.

Yesterday I travelled out of Terminal 1, via the excellent Asiana Airlines. BAA’s retail offer is generally exempt from the criticisms that its airports constantly attract but I was struck by how built up the main World Duty Free store in T1 has become.


Retailers often talk about ‘sight lines’ – but in this store as the photos show it is practically impossible to look across to other sections, such is the height of the various floor units. Look where they finish relative to the very low ceiling. If anything the picture above understates the feeling of being penned in that you get when walking the perfumes & cosmetics department.


It’s very cluttered to say the least – yet right across the way is a much smaller, upscale beauty store (below) dedicated to some of the biggest brands, which is both easy on the eye and easy to shop. Very nice indeed. I know where I’d do my shopping.


After that I had plenty of time to browse the 166 page Asiana Duty Free brochure during the ten-hour flight to Incheon. While not as chic as that published by its rival, Korean Air, it’s still a weighty and impressive publication that underlines the extraordinary spending power and taste for shopping of Korean nationals.

More on Korea coming soon. It’s time to try to defy the jet lag and catch some sleep to the wonderful lullaby of the waves of the Pacific Ocean.

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