Getting ready to talk Trinity principles in Hong Kong

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

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I’ve arrived in Hong Kong, along with hundreds of other travel retail executives, for our annual Trinity Forum, organised in partnership with our friends at ACI and ACI Asia-Pacific.

The view from The Moodie Report’s Interim Bureau at the Intercontinental in Kowloon is stunning. The famed ‘fragrant harbour’ is right in front of me, the majesty of the Hong Kong skyline as thrilling as ever.

HK view

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I flew out of Heathrow T5, my second home, and was struck by the massive advertising campaign for the Rugby World Cup which starts in London next Friday. The multi-location campaign in the landside departures zones features ordinary club players extolling the virtues of rugby. A nice angle except for the excruciating ‘For 80 minutes it’s war’ catch line on one of the visuals (below).

It’s not war, thank you very much, it’s a game. War is an abomination and there’s way too much of it in our world.

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Staying with the Rugby theme, I popped into the temporary Rugby World Cup Official Store, which has just opened at T5. Oh dear, what a drab, uninspiring outlet, with a surprisingly mediocre range of merchandise. Where’s the theatre, the drama? Hey, one of the world’s biggest sporting competitions is coming to London and heck, the hosts might even win it (wash my mouth out with soap and water).

Maybe such an offer would do better on arrivals? It would certainly be nice to see Heathrow’s pretty dull Arrivals shop splashed in some World Cup colour.

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[The best airport advertising execution in the world? I think so. Heathrow T5]

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[Two of my top ten airport shops – Smythson and Paul Smith, Heathrow T5]

Today, on the eve of The Trinity Forum I took a tour of King Power Group HK’s revamped duty free offer at Macau Airport with the retailer’s head of duty free and travel retail Sunil Tuli.

King Power has run this business successfully for many years but to its horror discovered last time around that the airport operator planned to split the concession into a two-operator model. Today was my first chance to look at this nonsensical scenario (similar to Auckland Airport). Is consumer choice enhanced by having rival retailers? Is pricing keener? No and no. Then no again. Someone needs to produce an economic case study on such critical questions before further airports follow suit.

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Macau kp beauty Macau kp ext (2) Macau KP ext macau kp sunil 2 Macau shilla 2  Macau split concessions

[The panorama above shows just how close the two retailers’ stores are. An economic nonsense.]

In the glare of competition King Power has brightened up its offer impressively. I particularly liked the beauty area where the retailer has struck hard-won exclusivities with Lauder and with Chanel (Shilla/Sky, the other retailer, has similar exclusivities with the likes of L’Oreal, Shiseido, Dior and others). King Power’s was certainly the busier of the two stores today, with its high-end spirits business going particularly well. I also noticed an older Chinese woman buying an expensive Chopard watch with quite the largest wad of cash I have seen in a long time.

There’s a marked contrasts between the two retailers’ store designs but, the brand exclusivities aside, the offers inevitably mirror one another. How on earth does that make sense. Both retailers have done a good job but both are fighting for a fair share of a fast-dwindling pie. In the event of a sales downturn – and boy, does Macau Airport ever have a sales downturn – then the economic pressures on hard-pressed retailers mount to a dangerous stage. What usually happens next? That’s right, service levels are cut. That hasn’t happened here yet but the economic madness of the two-operator model will be to blame if it does.

Well, The Trinity Forum Opening Cocktail is just a few hours away. This afternoon we have speaker rehearsals, featuring almost certainly the most powerful line-up we have ever attracted. All the speeches are in. Bar one. And you know, of course, whose that is. I better start writing.

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