Getting my KIX en route – thrifty sixth

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

Well if you ever plan to motor west
Just take my way, it’s the highway that’s the best
Get your kicks on Route 66

– Route 66, Bobby Troup

I’ve just opened my Interim Bureau at 32,991 feet, just north of Darbhanga, India. Housed I am happy to say, given that outside it’s -40 degrees below, in the cocoon-like safety of a Qatar Airways 777, some 3 hours 40 minutes out of Doha en route to Hong Kong.

It’s been a whistlestop visit to the Qatari capital and, of course, to Hamad International Airport. I flew in late Monday evening and departed in the wee small hours of Thursday.

I was there to report on the opening of Souq Al Matar, the latest in what has been an extraordinary stream of new projects courtesy of Qatar Duty Free and Hamad International Airport. You can read my extensive report via this link but I restate my view that this is arguably the most authentic realisation of the oft-cited, seldom delivered concept of Sense of Place in an airport worldwide.

The Souq Al Matar at Hamad International Airport

More of that experience in a subsequent blog, almost certainly written at a similar altitude given that I’m flying back to the Middle East – Dubai for Dubai Duty Free’s 40th anniversary celebrations – next Monday and then onto London three days later.

It’s been a hectic old schedule for a hectic old travel retail publisher in recent weeks, and this trip wasn’t rendered easier by a bout of food poisoning just before boarding for Doha. Did I listen to one of the oldest basic pre-flying tips – i.e. do not eat shellfish before a flight? Did I heck. As fate would have it, I’m only really starting to come right, three hours out of Hong Kong.

I know I am starting to come right because as we’re flying over Mymensingh, Bangladesh, I’ve just asked a very knowledgeable member of the Qatar Airways staff for a glass of the 2012 Sarget de Gruad Larose (61% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot with a prettifying dollop of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot making up the balance).

Sarget is the second wine of the great Bordeaux Château Gruaud Larose although ‘second wine’ seems verging on an insult given its thrillingly rich, berryish and almost chocolatety texture.

Given my travails over the past two days, my Sarget is accompanying a simple and safe toasted bagel with bacon and egg and right now it feels like a better combo than any three-star Michelin restaurant could ever propose.

This time last week I was just back from Kansai International Airport and its splendidly revamped Terminal 1 Airside Departures area, part of a hugely ambitous but equally complex development (reconstruction would be closer to the truth) of the airport.

As always, I was honoured to be guided through the project by those closest to it, in this case the Kansai Airports, Kansai Airports Retail & Services and Lagardère Travel Retail management. The main focus of my visit was the newly opened KIX Duty Free store, but I also got the chance both on a guided basis and as a freewheeling passenger to take in the extensive luxury, specialist retail and food & beverage offer.

Here are some of my favourite images. And yes, as always I supported our industry with a few purchases before my departure on December sixth. The KIX Duty Free range is expansive, the destination offer fantastic, and all at prices that appealed to my sense of thrift.

So, yes, I got my KIX en route. Thrifty sixth.

(Left to right) I am pictured with Kansai Airports Retail & Services Representative Director & President Fumio Owada and Kansai Airports Corporate EVP & CCO Non Aeronautical Stephane Geffroy, both justifiably proud as they guide me around the new-look T1 retail offer
Lagardère Travel Retail VP Merchandising North Asia Terry Chua and Lagardère Travel Retail Senior Merchandising Director – Japan Salina Kwok prepare to lead Martin Moodie on the media tour of the store. Terry is surely travel retail’s most dapper dresser. So if you think I look a little more sartorially elegant than usual it’s because I borrowed one of Terry’s ties.
Salina worked pretty much around the clock during the weeks leading up to the opening and was justifiably delighted to see how well things panned out on opening day
On the night of my arrival I enjoyed a splendid Japanese dinner with the indefatigable Lagardère Travel Retail Director of Merchandising (Spirits, Wines & Tobacco Asia) Pat Sim and The Choya CEO Shigehiro Kondo, a wise and kind soul who is also a brilliant businessman. 

Destination Kansai: Besides the KIX Duty Free offer, there is a fantastic array of Japanese food treats…
… to which I indeed did treat myself when buying as a passenger en route to Hong Kong. Even without Terry’s tie, the delightful Aiyoka remembered me and welcomed me warmly. If you visit KIX, you simply must try Malebranche Okoicha Langue de Chat (biscuit) Cha-no-Ka, a sublimely tasty combo of matcha tea and white chocolate from Kyoto that doesn’t so much melt in your mouth as deliquesce you into delirium.
And of course (like seemingly half the passengers, see video below) I did go bananas over Tokyo Banana (fluffy, soft sponge cakes oozing delectably with banana custard cream)

Owada-san shows me an exclusive from The Choya, especially developed for KIX Duty Free at T1. The Ninja version comes from the Choya distillery in Iga, considered the Ninja city.
International brands, too, have put their best foot forward to support KIX Duty Free. Here Owada-san holds up a Kansai-exclusive from L’Occitane en Provence.
Digital is very much to the fore in-store but I’m not sure Clé de Peau Beauté had me in mind when this superb technology was created
What’s a Moodie store visit if I don’t catch up with Mr Bones at Kiehl’s? That’s me on the left by the way, just to be clear.
A great Opening Ceremony that evening proved to be the perfect culmination for an historic opening day. Here Stephane Geffroy is shown delivering a heartfelt message of appreciation to his team, to brand partners and to Lagardère Travel Retail. “I wanted to say a big thank you to all of you because from the feedback we hear it’s a great success and actually a great success together. The project was a vision we had to really change how we do travel retail as opposed to how we how we did it before. You all supported us and believed in that and that’s just fantastic.”
Owada-san spoke with great warmth and no little emotion as he summed up the journey from original vision to opening day
You could just about bottle as an edt (eau de triumph) the collective happiness and pride from this great group shot of the Kansai Airports, Kansai Airports Retail & Services and Lagardère Travel Retail teams
Everyone simply says “J’adore”, when they meet the wonderful Catherine Sauvage , LVMH Beauty Travel Retail Asia Pacific Managing Director. Here she is pictured with me; Christian Dior Senior Retail Manager Travel Retail Department Yutaka Naka; and LVMH Beauty Travel Retail Director Japan Takeshi Nakanishi.
Estée Lauder Travel Retail President Commercial Worldwide Javier Simon spotted the origin of my tie straight away. How so? Because he had borrowed the same one from Terry Chua on an earlier occasion.
Alexander Carroll recently joined William Grant & Sons from Diageo to assume the key role of Regional Director GTR – APAC
Rémy Cointreau General Manager – Japan Xavier Talbot and The Choya CEO Shigehiro Kondo join me for a drink
With Pernod Ricard General Manager North Asia Travel Retail Simon van Moppes and VINCI Airports Director, Commercial Pierre Abignano

I had the pleasure of catching up over shall we say an interesting breakfast with Lagardère Travel Retail Group Chief Strategy and Development Officer – Global and COO-Asia Severine Lanthier and later with members of her local team

 

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