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I’ve arrived in Manila to work on a really exciting project – a special book celebrating Duty Free Philippine’s 25th anniversary.
Last night (above) I had a nice dinner with Duty Free Philippines Chief Operating Office Lorenzo ‘Enchong’ Formoso and his delightful family plus his colleague Debbie Ongsip and her husband.
After a day of work from my new Manila bureau (pictured below) overlooking the Pacific, it’s wall-to-wall meetings over the next three days as I begin putting together the compelling story of Duty Free Philippines’ history, which The Moodie Report will publish in May to coincide with the TFWA Asia Pacific show in Singapore.
En route to Manila I flew out of Heathrow Airport Terminal 4 and through Abu Dhabi International Airport Terminal 3. Both are excellent showcases for our industry.
Heathrow T4 is certainly a much more enjoyable consumer proposition to the aging T1 I flew through earlier in the week.
Security was fast and (yes, really) friendly and I was quickly into the commercial zone immediately beyond central security.
The food & beverage offer is pretty good and I love the landside Café Rouge and the Delaware-run Dining Street airside. As I do Caviar House & Prunier (a perennial favourite and done very nicely here).
Foreign exchange, an unglamorous but key sector, also shows well here (pictured are Amex landside and Travelex, much better than at T1) landside. The same can be said of WHSmith, more spacious, brighter and with a useful self-payment system to speed up waiting times and shorten queues for those who still prefer counter service.
World Duty Free enjoys a fantastic positioning here and it shows the retailer at its best.
The fragrances & cosmetics store to the right is very good indeed, absolutely gleaming and spotless. Big brands at the front such as Estée Lauder, YSL, Crème de la Mer, Lancôme and Dior are outstandingly merchandised, the sight lines are excellent and overall the whole shop really looks the part.
I chatted to a couple of the Lauder beauty assistants who were enthusiastic, knowledgeable and warm.
During a five minute wander through the store I was probably asked at least seven times if I required any assistance but every approach was low key and unpushy. It’s a fine balancing act but this store appears to have got it just right.
Note the Lauder signage below, both above the main duty free store and above the entrance to security. Then look at the same brand’s positioning in the heart of the adjacent, male dominated liquor, tobacco and confectionery outlet promoting women’s skincare line Advanced Night Repair.
From my recent trips to a number of airports around the world, it’s clear that Lauder is investing heavily in airport media to help communicate to travellers throughout the journey.
As with T1, it was odd to see the old World Duty Free branding (below) still in existence at one of the satellite stores.
There’s a great mix of speciality stores at T4. That includes World of Whiskies (pictured below), which to me expresses all that can be great abouit airport specialist retailing. It has a rich and appropriate ambience, a fantastic range of whiskies and consistently outstanding service.
Interestingly, one of the busiest terms of customers per sq ft (it has 500sq ft) during my brief tour was Cath Kidston, which offers a wide range of travel essentials and gifting products including luggage, clothing and craft favourites featuring the brand’s signature floral design.
So to the Middle East. Abu Dhabi International Airport Terminal 3 is one of my favourite airports. I love the rich and atmospheric mosaic design and the way the high-class commercial area has been delicately integrated into the terminal. The pictures of the DFS-dominated retail zone tell their own story of elegance and strength of brand line-up.
If you had to name the world’s top five airport travel retail panoromas, the view below would surely be included every time.
Is there anything more visually appealing in the airport world than the high-end cosmetics zone (below) in this department? And it doesn’t stop there. The confectionery offer (very important here) is colourful and vibrant; the liquor department anchored by a tasting bar is understatedly elegant, perfect for this region; and of course the two luxury boulevards contain some of the world’s great brands. I bought a couple of very good New Zealand wines from Craggy Range, receiving excellent service from Jerda and Xiaolei (pictured), both smart, personable and helpful.
[DFS has responded fast to the introduction of Chinese flights]
[The upscale ‘The Collection’ liquor store is a highlight of the DFS offer]
[Travellers check out the latest Diageo promotions, including the new Smirnoff Gold vodka line at the DFS bar]
[The DFS luxury zone features some of the world’s most prized brands]
The food and beverage offer was pretty standard in comparison, though I know Abu Dhabi Airports Company would like to add a good Indian offer to its current mix of Asian, Middle Eastern and western food. The pub was doing a thriving business in the early hours of a Saturday morning.