Getting ahead of myself on the road to Riyadh

The following two tabs change content below.
Martin Moodie
Martin Moodie is the Founder & Chairman of The Moodie Report.

“Where are you flying to today, Sir?”

The polite inquiry from the courteous female check-in attendant behind the China Eastern desk at Hong Kong International Airport this morning at 5.30am was the umpteenth of its nature I have answered down the years.

“To Shanghai Pudong and then on to Riyadh,” I replied in an early morning, sleep-deprived monotone, robotically handing over my passport.

The attendant gazed at her screen, simultaneously making a few keystrokes before furrowing her brows in a bemused expression.

“Mr Moodie,” she said in the tone one usually reserves for an elderly and slightly confused grandparent. “Your flight is not until tomorrow. The 20th.”

“What’s today?” I replied in a manner suggesting I was indeed perfectly cast in the doddering grandparental role.

“The 19th.”

And indeed it was. I suppose after all the travel I’ve done in recent weeks and all that lies ahead – May, June and July pretty much full-on – I could be excused for thinking there is no day that I don’t have to be at the airport.

But today was an exception. Having arrived back from the TFWA Asia Pacific show on Friday I had confused my departure date to the ACI Asia-Pacific & Middle East/ACI World Annual General Assembly, Conference and Exhibition (WAGA) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

A magnificent panorama from my Interim Bureau at the Marina Bay Sands, official hotel to TFWA Asia Pacific 

Such things happen, especially amid a fraught schedule. But having risen at 4am on less than five hours sleep, I admit to having whispered a quiet curse or two as I trudged wearily out of the airport and towards the taxi ranks.

Having decided that proclaiming “Honey, I’m home” as I burst through the door would not be the wisest (nor safest) way to greet my long-suffering wife, I messaged in advance to inform her that she would be the unexpected beneficiary of my company for a while yet. In deference to my dear late Mum’s genes (personally I prefer Levi’s), that delightfully evocative word ‘eejit’ comes to mind.

So the trip to Pudong and Riyadh can wait almost another day while I continue keeping ‘the website that never sleeps’ company.

There certainly wasn’t much sleep available last week during an enjoyably full-on TFWA event. Full credit to the Association for running such an outstanding conference and exhibition, one where the mood was more buoyant than at any time since those far-off, halcyon pre-pandemic days of 2019.

While I regather my equilibrium and study my self-imposed lesson on how to differentiate between Sundays and Mondays, here are some of my favourite images of the week.

Lovely shots from the interview I and my colleague Lara Netherlands (second from right in photo above) conducted with dynamic Korean handbag brand Vunque, founded by the remarkable Jeong Hey Seok, pictured second from left. Left of her is Sung Lee, President of brand representative Majeria Co and far right is Majeria Co Global Business Senior Manager Chae-Woon Yi {Photos: Alexander Roux, Moodie Davitt STUDIO}.

I also had the privilege of interviewing the leadership of Atelier Rebul, a remarkable Turkish house that specialises in perfumes, home fragrances, oils, diffusers and candles as well as skin and bodycare. The company traces its roots back to 1895 and that heritage oozed from every inch of a simply magnificent stand. Pictured with me are Co-CEOs Kerim Müderrisoglu (right) and Nüket Filiba {Photos: Alexander Roux, Moodie Davitt STUDIO}.

Atelier Rebul announced its expansion into global travel retail at the show, a channel in which it is in very good hands in the form of youthful industry veteran Catherine Bonelli

Hong Kong-based Global Drinks Ltd unveiled Misaka, a premium, travel retail-exclusive Japanese whisky range. Here I am showing chatting with Global Drinks Managing Director Harry Kartasis for a film dedicated to the launch while my colleagues Alexander Roux (Moodie Davitt STUDIO) and Lara Netherlands get up close and personal with the range.
The show offered me a welcome reunion with two of the most-respected executives in the global beauty business, Global SK-II CEO Sue Kyung Lee and P&G President, Skin and Personal Care Markus Strobel
I always enjoy catching up with Kevin Chiang, the bright and dynamic Ever Rich Duty Free President
Staying with Taiwan, here I am snapped with Tasa Meng General Manager Gary Chau
Diageo Global Travel Managing Director Andrew Cowan is playing an outstanding leadership role in our industry. The company recently underlined its commitment to the channel by again signing as a Platinum Partner for this year’s Trinity Forum, set to take place on 5-6 November in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
Going Dutch: The Moodie Davitt Report’s Lara Netherlands meets Jonathan Associates Founder and Managing Director Jonathan Holland on the Duty Free Global stand. Don’t be followed by the family names, however, Lara is a South African and Jonathan a passionately patriotic Englishman.
Passing the torch: L’Oréal Travel Retail Asia Pacific Managing Director Tao Zhang (above) bids a fond farewell to the channel. As reported, the hugely admirable Ms Zhang is being replaced by Jesús Abia (pictured centre below with me and Lagardère Travel Retail VP Merchandising North Asia Terry Chua) on 1 July.

My long-time friend Franco Gabriele founded Alfa Brands in November 1993, to fill a void he perceived in the travel retail channel for personalised and attentive brand representation. What an impressive success story he has carved out with the US company over the ensuing years.
With The Trinity Forum coming to Ho Chi Minh City (5-6 November) this year, it was a special honour to meet the management teams from Vietnam Airlines, led by Executive Vice President Trinh Hong Quang (third from right) and inflight duty-free concessionaire Travel to Buy Chairman David Chou (far right)
Penfolds Global Travel hosted a sumptuous dinner on the Monday night anchored by the great Australian wine house’s now impressively international portfolio. Global Travel Director Michael Jackson and colleagues (including brand owner Treasury Wine Estates Managing Director Tom King) treated guests to a global tour of the various Penfolds treasures, from Australia to France to the USA and China.
With (left to right) Antares Cheng, King Power Group (HK) CEO and APTRA President Sunil Tuli and Gebr. Heinemann Co-CEO Max Heinemann
With The Moodie Davitt Report Asia Pacific Content Strategist Lara Netherlands and Lagardère Travel Retail CEO North Asia Keith Tam
Going green: Visiting the beautifully alluring Swarovski stand and its outstanding travel retail leadership is enough to put a sparkle in anyone’s day. I am pictured with Head of Global Travel Retail Andreea Marginean (right) and Director of Sales – Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan Travel Retail Karen Tse.
Four family-owned companies toast the spirit of entrepreneurship

On Wednesday night I had the opportunity to dine with the founders of three great entrepreneurial family companies, all of whom I have interviewed over recent times. Pictured to my left are Andrey and Oxana Zubko, proprietors of Biosota Organics, an Australian company specialising in MGO 2100+ other Manuka honey variations. In the apiculture world, Manuka honey MGO 2100+ is the liquid gold standard. You can read their story here.

On my right is Fabrizio Canal, Founder of Italian gourmet food & drinks specialist Food Accademia (you can see my interview with him here), who brings a world of magical Italian flavours to travel retail.

To his right are Toni Martello and her partner (and soon to be husband) Rob. Toni (Maria Antonietta) is Founder and Executive Director at Azzurra One Enterprise, a much-respected travel retail staffing, promotional and marketing services agency in Sydney, Australia.

Remarkably, this year marks the 42nd anniversary since she created Azzurra One, initially employing two staff to sell cigarettes at Sydney Airport, later adding wines & spirits, wellness and confectionery products to the portfolio. You can read that extraordinary story here.

Andrey and Oxana were our gracious hosts on an unforgettable evening at C’est la Vie in Marina Bay Sands. C’est la vie, of course, translates as ‘That’s life’ and this unforgettable evening was certainly bursting with life.

Not one but two flying Kiwis: I caught up with Rhys Julian, General Manager & Co-Owner of New Zealand gin Strange Nature, which surely boasts one of the most striking bottles in duty free (the juice, Sauvignon Blanc-based, is pretty special too). Strange Nature is the sponsor of The Moodie Davitt Report’s Image of the Day column.
We Kiwis are everywhere: Auckland Airport Head of Retail Lucy Thomas and her colleagues are putting the finishing touches to the much-anticipated duty-tender due to launch this month. Click here for my recent interview with her. As reported, the company has invited “globally recognised, proven duty‑free operators” to register their interest in the RFP for a duty‑free licence commencing in the second half of 2025.
The show also gave me the chance to chat with the KOSÉ Travel Retail leadership, including President Shu Shibue (second left) and (second right) Director Marketing Division Hiroto Kitaki 
With Victorinox Head of Global Travel Retail & Fragrance Sales Gloria Dix (second right) and her associates at the Welcome Cocktail
The Moodie Davitt Report team gathered for a pre-show dinner at Lumbre, an excellent Spanish tapas restaurant in Chijmes on Saturday evening. Pictured left to right representing the unrivalled diversity, inclusion and talent in travel retail media (eight nationalities alone in this shot) are Senior Reporter Ameesha Raizada; President Dermot Davitt; Asia Pacific Content Strategist Lara Netherlands; Moodie Davitt STUDIO Production Manager Chen Ming (‘Mao’); Moodie Davitt STUDIO Director, Editor and Videographer Alexander Roux; Founder & Chairman Martin Moodie; Publisher Irene Revilla; Vice President Sales & Events Sarah Genest; and Brands Director Hannah Tan. They were later joined by Chief China Representative Zhang Yimei and International Account Manager Aran Turner.
Was there ever a more richly deserved promotion in our sector than that of Ramesh Cidamibi, long-time COO at Dubai Duty Free and now the retailer’s new leader as Managing Director? Ramesh is among travel retail’s brightest minds and will be an outstanding torchbearer for the legacy created by his predecessor Colm McLoughlin.
The Moodie Davitt Report editorial team was out in full force at the Welcome Cocktail. (Left to right) President and Editorial Director Dermot Davitt; me; Asia Pacific Content Strategist Lara Netherlands; Brands Director Hannah Tan and Senior Reporter Ameesha Raizada
I am pictured left with Gruppo Vinicolo (Santa Margherita) Export Director Giacomo Marzotto and right with Fiyta watches International Business General Manager Jobs Wang
Noida Chief Commercial Officer Prashant Gaurav Gupta (right) is another very busy airport executive. His team has issued and awarded several tenders over recent months (including the duty-free and other retail award to a consortium of Heinemann Asia Pacific and BWC Forwarders Private Limited the day after this photo was taken) with more in the pipeline for the much-anticipated airport set to open late this year. With us is Azzurra One Enterprise Founder and Executive Director Toni Martello.

Leave a Comment