From Br’ansk, with a little help from Benedetti, to Bangkok

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

Thai flight path

Sunday

This Blog starts in The Moodie Report’s latest Interim Bureau onboard Thai Airways 911 from London to Bangkok. I’m 35,000ft above Russia, just east of Minsk and heading towards Br’ansk (I wonder why the apostrophe in the word?). As I write, I’m listening to the exquisite violin artistry of Nicola Benedetti, exploring her Scottish roots in ‘Homecoming – A Scottish Fantasy’.

Well I know the All Blacks beat the Scots (just) at rugby on Saturday but as a deep, deep descendant of a Glaswegian on my father’s side (in the 19th century the name, just before its owner of the time emigrated to Canada, was changed from Modie to Moodie for some reason; surely thereby hangs a tale, probably of the murky variety), I’ve long been a fan of most things Scottish, most notably the bagpipes. Never was the beauty of the latter better captured than in Mark Knopfler’s ‘Piper to the End’, a song to listen to before you die.

Scottish fantasy

Similarly, if you know anyone Scottish or with Scottish ancestry Ms Benedetti’s album would make the most sublime gift. There are few more beautiful pieces of classical music in the world than Bruch’s Scottish Fantasy, for imagine. You can almost feel yourself skipping through the fields of heather as you listen to it and I promise that’s not just the (excellent) Montagny Premier Cru 2010 (served, pictured, by the graceful and gracious Naiyana) talking.

Thai Wine

Listen to her (Nicola Benedetti not Naiyana, that is) play, with her feather-soft touch, ‘Ae Fond Kiss’, swan-like in its beauty, and you’ll know what I mean.

heathrow t2 panorama

But I digress. I flew out of The Queen’s Terminal (T2) at Heathrow, a place that (apart from the half-marathon like distances to the gate) I could grow to love. I have heard some criticisms about the predictability of its retail line-up but on balance I really like the commercial offer as well as the big wide vistas (see above). Yes, most of the names are familiar but the executions are consistently excellent.

heathrow t2 dixons

You have to have a top-class consumer technology and accessories offer at any airport these days and I still think Dixons Travel (above) is best-in-class. My battle-weary Lumix recently bit the dust and I sought expert advice on what to replace it with. Surprise, surprise, once I had explained my needs, the excellent sales assistant Amar pointed me at exactly the same camera (albeit a more recent model), pointing out its merits (for me) over several higher-priced competitors. The clarity of the shots on this page I hope bear testament to his recommendation.

heathrow t2 jo malone

heathrow t2 collector

Besides Dixons I also shopped at World Duty Free’s main store (above) and Moneycorp foreign exchange. The former is a lovely new shop (though I think they should pull the gondola heights down in the drinks section) with particularly nice deft touches in beauty and ultra-premium spirits.

My recent comments on the point of sale service at T3 drew commendable concern from World Duty Free Group and I’m pleased to note no such concerns this time.

I bought a single bottle of wine as a gift, was asked if Bangkok was my final destination and, when I asked if I could take two or maybe three bottles in, was told immediately, “No, the total allowance for wines and spirits is one litre.” My server (Nubradian?) even checked with his colleagues to ensure he was right. This should be the norm of course but still around the travel retail planet too many staff do not know about the correct allowances.

Foreign exchange doesn’t get too many mentions in the media but Moneycorp (below) deserves a citation here as a role model for currency business at airports. Instead of the familiarly cold, behind glass, environment one associates with airport foreign exchange, this is bright, open and staffed by engaging individuals. I think my server tonight (Liban) was a trainee but I liked the way he immediately sought (and got) advice from his friendly colleague (Chalton) when he was confused (speed is key to foreign exchange operations) and that my transaction was swiftly dealt with.

heathrow t2 moneycorp

Anyway, enough, I am now over the Caspian Sea, north of Baku and it’s time to rest. I’m headed to the Thai capital for the 25th anniversary celebrations of King Power International Group, a mighty landmark in the history of one of Asia’s, and the world’s, great travel retailers. 25 years, a quarter of a century. Gosh, it makes me feel old. I have actually been in the industry longer than that (by two years), though it has to be said that I haven’t aged nearly so well.

I have always been an advocate of chronicling industry history for it’s all too easy to take success stories for granted. Behind them, inevitably, lie great tales of blood, sweat and more than a few tears; tales of great human endeavour; of leaders who dared to challenge the norm, who inspired, who brought others of like mind along with them on the journey.

King Power’s is just such a tale (as is that of its leader Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha) and I’m honoured to be part of its richly deserved celebrations tomorrow.

Monday

I’ve arrived in Bangkok and just returned to my new interim Bureau, the Pullman Bangkok King Power, after an enjoyable and illuminating visit to the King Power Srivaree Complex today. Due to the well-publicised political turmoil here, business was very tough earlier in the year.

KP MM LCFC

[Come on the Foxes! At the Leicester City Football Club boutique in the King Power Srivaree Complex today] 

KP MM and DN

[The industry’s two most experienced journalists, Doug Newhouse, with whom I spent a pleasant taxi ride comparing journalistic lives, to the left and me to the right, with the fantastically welcoming King Power team]

It’s good to see it now recovering so strongly and today it was absolutely packed with Chinese group tourists who are pouring in there at the rate of between 6,000 and 10,000 a day. The scenes within the L’Oréal Paris boutique were particularly noteworthy, the unrivalled consumer feeding frenzy there underlining the fact that it’s not just about luxury in appealing to the great Chinese tourism wave.

I’ll let the pictures tell the story, not just about the level of business but the level of retail quality.

KP Loreal Paris crowds

KP entrance

KP confection crowds

Kp Crowds

KP Xmas tree

KP Lauder

KP Panorama

KP Lauder

KP Watch

Kp Watch interior

Kp Tiffany

Kp Swarovski

 

 

 

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