Latest posts by Martin Moodie (see all)
- Sipping a botanical journey across Vietnam and talking Trinity in Ho Chi Minh City - February 24, 2024
- Sounding out Sanya sensations and hitting the high notes in Haikou - February 20, 2024
- Zooming into and out of Zayed International - February 14, 2024
Given that I began my life the victim of a fountain pen-scrawled typo, I suppose it was inevitable that an obsession with words would dominate my subsequent existence.
It’s amazing what you find when you clear out your possessions accumulated over a lifetime.
In my case, as the image below confirms, quite a long lifetime. As for the typo (courtesy of a no doubt well-meaning nurse at Burwood Hospital in Christchurch, New Zealand), it was the first but far from the last miscueing of my name. To this day – and despite the wonders of spellcheck – whenever we advertise a job, we’re sure to attract applicants who make the same error.
My final Blog of the year comes from London, where I’ve hunkered down for a couple of days to sort everything I left behind when making what at the time seemed like a temporary move to Hong Kong in late July 2020.
Three and a half years on, that move has the ring of permanence around it, so happily and fruitfully have I settled in the Special Administrative Region.
At this twilight stage in my career it feels to me like everything was meant to lead to this final chapter, one that may hopefully run for a little while yet.
That feeling is confirmed by looking over my old school reports and assessments – pretty much hopeless at everything except English, history and debating (always an argumentative sod) in which I excelled – university papers, first journalistic articles and then the early evidence of my move from New Zealand to England on 23 April 1987.
Articles for drinks title Impact International ensued and some (oh what joy this gave me) for its sister title Wine Spectator, for which I travelled back to my homeland in the southern summer of 1987/1988 to prepare the US magazine’s first extensive coverage of the then-fledgling New Zealand industry.
So many memories. Including a cover story in October 1988 for Impact International featuring an interview with Bernard Arnault as he fought for control of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton.
Arnault was then a fearless 39-year-old entrepreneur, who earlier that year had joined forces with British liquor company Guinness to take a 24 percent stake in the French luxury goods firm.
Perversely in hindsight, LVMH had been created in September 1987 through the merger of leathergoods house Louis Vuitton with Cognac-to-Champagne group Moët Hennessy as a mutually defensive move against potential takeovers.
Arnault’s foe was a formidable one, the 76-year-old patrician Henry Racamier, originally a steel magnate and husband of Odile Vuitton, the great-granddaughter of Louis Vuitton, who had founded the house in 1854. I interviewed Racamier too, racing around Paris on the back of a Vespa owned by independent French photographer Michel Setboun.
Michel got shots of Arnault and Racamier, while I chatted to them both, and later, scarcely believing our luck, we stopped to celebrate it with a glass or three of good French red. I was hooked.
In early 1989 came the fateful call from one Doug Newhouse, the man I consider the pioneer of real travel retail journalism. He, too, had been at Impact International but had left for a hopeful start-up called Duty-Free News International launched by Vivian Raven (who sadly passed in 2016) and Julian Fox.
“Hello mate, we really like what you are doing. Off the record, we’d love you to join us as we’re growing fast. Fancy a chat?”
That chat – accompanied by I recall (almost) around seven pints of warm British ale – led to me jumping ship and joining what became universally known as DFNI, which rose to become the market leader in the early 1990s, a position it would retain for a decade and a half.
From Review Editor, I became Liquor Editor, then assumed editorship of the now-defunct Travel Retailer International (working alongside current Travel Retail Business Co-owner Nigel Hardy) before on 1 March 1992, my 36th birthday, becoming Editor of DFNI. This time my name was spelled right.
In 1996, Messrs Raven and Fox, seeing the projected (and ultimately realised) 1999 abolition of intra-European Union duty free as a fundamental threat to their business, sold DFNI to Euromoney. I was key to the succession plan, becoming a Managing Director for the first time in my career.
During the ensuing five years, I hired one Dermot Davitt as a graduate trainee (eventually fast-tracking him to become my successor as Editor), working alongside other stellar talent including Rebecca Mann, John Rimmer, (the tragically departed) Alex Smith, Toby Fox, Claire Wates, Mandy Sime, Michelle Lovett (now Michelle Davitt) and Bob Wilby. I learned (just about) how to run a business under the wise and expert tutelage of Richard Jell (now in his 70s our Publishing Consultant and still my mentor).
Euromoney and me were a marriage made in hell and in early 2002, as is now history, I embarked on this crazy journey called (initially) The Moodie Report.
Along the way, Dermot Davitt rejoined me (we became The Moodie Davitt Report in 2015) along with a bunch of other talented people who have been part of this amazing journey. I have told the story of the intervening years previously and will no doubt return to tell it in more detail as this career twilight eventually fades into darkness.
For now though, there is light aplenty, the clear-out is done, the clutter eliminated. A 67-year journey from Baby Moody to a twilight senior, but at least one with his name spelled correctly. ✈