Flying Foxes defy gravity by staying up

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

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What an appropriate moment to post this Blog from Suvarnabhumi, ‘the airport of smiles’, on a holiday weekend in the UK that witnessed a sporting triumph for (and plenty of smiles from) the airport’s master commercial concessionaire King Power International Group.

Yesterday, UK football team Leicester City Football Club, owned by an offshoot of King Power (Group Chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha is its Chairman and Senior Executive Vice President Susan Whelan CEO, pictured below), capped a remarkable late-season rally by thrashing Queen’s Park Rangers 5-1.

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Leicester are known affectionately as ‘the Foxes’. And boy, these foxes ran like they were being chased by a pack of rabid, starved hounds over their last nine games, winning seven and drawing one, miraculously escaping the relegation that had seemed almost certain when they were bottom of the table and seven points adrift from safety at the beginning of April.

Certain to some, that is. The Moodie Report’s Foxes followers, yours truly and Leicester-born Helen Pawson, were never in doubt that the team would stay up – even when Helen was assured by former England star Michael Owen that relegation beckoned (I guess he’ll be owen the Foxes an apology).

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[You’ll be owen us an apology then Michael…]

Retained premiership status spells good news for the store below, the Suvarnabhumi Airport sports boutique dedicated largely to Foxes items (to celebrate the team being in the pink I bought Helen the chic cap second from left below).

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The Suvarnabhumi retail offer is generally very good, particularly in core duty free and destination merchandise. King Power has always demonstrated a strong commitment to all layers of society and I like the OTOP (one Tambon, one product – a national scheme to recognise and reward local entrepreneurship) stores very much.

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[Shopping and cuisine, both targeted at the Chinese]

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[A lovely photo of a lovely, truly tasteful shop]

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[Flowers for those orchid moments when you arrive home…]

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[O dear, memories are not quite made of this]

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I bought two lovely notebooks for my children from the delightful Supatra (below) and I loved her final courtesy, “Thank you for shopping with us.” There was something about the “us”, and the warmth with which she said it, that indicated she felt part of something bigger, a family company, which of course King Power is. Note the cause – sales of products in the store encourage villagers to diversify away from opium crops and make legitimate incomes instead.

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This is the area where I feel the travel retail industry badly misses a trick. I see so much good being done by airports, retailers, food & drinks sellers, and brands around the world. Collectively our sector does amazing things for the world. The industry’s various associations tend, understandably perhaps, to focus on largely defensive efforts to ward off threats. How good it would be to see more positive PR on the merits of the channel.

Food & beverage (a terrible industry term which I am going to henceforth rename ‘food & drink’ – what consumer ever talks about ‘beverage’?), as with so many international airports, falls well short of the shopping offer though. The selection of pictures below of the Suvarnabhumi and Phuket airport offers tells its own story. And it’s nowhere near as impressive as that of the flying Foxes, a story that is set to run and run.

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[Above and below: Phuket Airport – nice duty free shop, shame about the food]

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