Home away from home in Hong Kong and reflections on the Singapore show

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

It is just after sunrise and the view over a mirror-still Discovery Bay is as serene as it is beautiful. Far in the distance the skyscrapers of Kowloon and Hong Kong poke through the early morning mist while to my left the sun is tucked discreetly behind cloud cover like an actor in the wings ready to burst on stage.

It’s not my usual view of Discovery Bay, though. As mentioned in my last Blog, I’m staying at the Auberge Hotel until my wife Yu Lim tests negative from the COVID she caught in Singapore. I can see our apartment but two red lines on a testing kit have been ensuring I cannot actually enter it since my return from France on Monday.

Home on the hill, just an expanse of water and two red lines away

The good news is that this morning her COVID test shows a solitary line (I asked her if she was positive she was negative; she replied negatively to my attempted humour but positively, I mean negatively, in terms of prognosis), meaning I have a welcome two days with her and in the comfort of our own home before a Thursday trip to Macau, a Friday flight to Singapore, then on to Doha and London for an approximate six-week overseas trip combining work and family matters.

It has been a hectic year on the travel schedule, especially with the successful Hainan and Singapore exhibitions and our Smile Raising Charity Dinner falling in such quick succession, capped, as I wrote, by a whistlestop trip to Cannes and Grasse for the big Coty launch of recent days.

With my wife Yu Lim Lee (right) and Maitreyi Karanth. Maitreyi is a Hong Kong-based comedian, actor, producer, poet, humanitarian, and the tour de force behind Women in Travel Retail+’s chosen charity for 2023, the Koma Karanth Foundation. You can read her astonishing life story here.
My business partner Dermot Davitt and me pictured with Smile Train Senior Vice President and Regional Director, Asia Mamta Carrol who presented The Moodie Davitt Report with a special award for our support for the cleft charity down the years
Mukesh Valiram topped an intense bidding contest for a unique, travel retail-exclusive copy of Miller’s Tale, the rip-roaring biography of DFS Group Co-founder Robert (Bob) Warren Miller written by me. This is the only copy to be co-signed by both subject and author.

With (from left) Yu Lim Lee, Lilith Yu (floral artist and model) and her fiancee Gary Leong of Foreo
My Hainan connections have grown encouragingly in strength and warmth over the past few years. Pictured right to left are Lu Tianqin, Head of the Duty Free TV Channel at Hainan Hinews, our strategic partner in the island province; Zhang Yimei, The Moodie Davitt Report’s new Hainan-based Chief China Representative and  former Deputy General Manager at Hainan Tourism Investment Duty Free Co (HTDF) in Sanya; and Hainan Provincial Bureau of International Economic Development Deputy Director General Gong Qijun.
A truly uplifting moment as Hainan Provincial Bureau of International Economic Development (IEDB) Global Media Officer Ruslan Tulenov thanks me for my support over the years in unique fashion
The irrepressible, incomparable Barry Geoghegan, Founder of Duty Free Global, did a brilliant job as auctioneer

The Monday conference was notable for what I rank among the best on-stage interviews I have seen during my 36 years covering this sector. It was an exchange between TFWA Managing Director John Rimmer and Singapore’s former Minister for Information and the Arts; Minister for Health; Minister for Trade & Industry; and Minister for Foreign Affairs George Yeo.

His Foreign Affairs perspective provided riveting listening, particularly his take on China – a balanced and positive view which, as he noted, you simply won’t see reflected in most western mainstream media, pre-occupied as they are with painting China as an economic and potential military aggressor. Rimmer knew precisely what buttons to push and Yeo responded with magnificent clarity and candidness.

George Yeo and John Rimmer on stage during a compelling session

Have no doubt about China’s bright economic future, Yeo said, nor its ability to avoid being drawn into conflict. He concluded: “At the end of the pandemic, the league table in the world has changed dramatically. I just want to leave you with one thought. China has been the least damaged economy during COVID. China will account for 35% of global growth this year alone.”

Riveting. And to close, here are some of my favourite images of a welcome return to Singapore.

How very good to see Lacoste Travel Retail Director Asia Pacific Erin Lillis at the show after her inspirational battle against illness over recent months. She is pictured here with CVH Spirits Commercial Director Luke Maga and APTRA President & King Power Group (HK) CEO Sunil Tuli at the APTRA Exchange event on the Sunday.
Birthday boys: Sunday was also the dual birthday of Luke Maga and Dermot Davitt and APTRA marked the occasion in style.
Good to see Tasa Meng General Manager Gary Chau back in shape too after some recent surgery. He is looking fitter and younger than ever.
With Delhi Duty Free Services CEO Ashish Chopra, who is leading the Indian travel retailer with such dynamic and innovative spirit
Two more well-known faces from Indian travel retail, Mumbai Travel Retail Private Limited (MTRPL) Chief Executive Officer Avishek Bambil Das and Flemingo CEO Atul Ahuja. MTRPL is a joint venture between Adani Airports Holdings and Flemingo Group, created in 2021.
Maestrani Schweizer Schokoladen Sales Manager International Christoph Ruscnd and Senior Key Account Manager Business Development Faozia Math Ly Roun meet Lu Tianqin, Head of the Duty Free TV Channel at Hainan Hinews
Ruslan Tulenov, Rakhita Jayawardena (a great pioneer of inflight retail), Yu Lim Lee and Gary Leong enjoy a nice glass and good company at the TFWA Asia Pacific Opening Cocktail
There are few nicer individuals in travel retail than Choya CEO & President Shigehiro Kondo, pictured here with me and Yu Lim Lee
Two flying Kiwis and two pioneers’ stories: Richard Hanson is Owner and Managing Director of Aotea Gifts New Zealand, the renowned destination merchandise retailer founded by his father Peter Hanson who sadly passed in 2019. Peter was a pioneer of the travel retail business in New Zealand and so Richard was very keen to read a copy of Miller’s Tale, the biography of Bob Miller, a man who has given so much to our industry and who remains a committed (and sizable) shareholder of DFS to this day.
Dermot Davitt and I catch up with Watson Chen of Taiwanese company Blackball, a renowned Taiwanese producer of high-quality desserts and bubble milk tea. The company has launched a pioneering new product called BAL into travel retail. BAL produces an amazing array of bursting boba and fruit and tea dry toppings using molecular gastronomy techniques to present a wide range of fruit and food flavours. It showcased its latest initiative in Singapore, claiming to be the world’s first brand to inject classic spirits, delicious cocktails and even Champagne into its bursting boba. A brilliant concept for Gen Z consumers.
With Michelle Chiang of the great family firm that is Ever Rich Duty Free in Taiwan
I caught up with La Prairie Vice President Global Travel Retail and Asia Pacific Noelle Goris (left) and La Prairie Managing Director for Australia and New Zealand Rosi Fernandez on the Swiss luxury skincare brand’s typically refined exhibition stand
Shiseido Travel Retail returned to the TFWA Asia Pacific show after four years. Hannah Tan-Gillies and I enjoyed a stimulating conversation with Shiseido Travel Retail Global Communications Senior Director Linda Lee (left) and Shiseido Travel Retail Vice President Asia Pacific Travel Retail Evelyne Ly Wainer (second from right)
Nice to spend some time with Pernod Ricard Global Travel Retail’s dynamic Vice President of Marketing Liya Zhang
Two of the nicest people in the global travel retail community, Patricia (Pat) Sim from Changi Airport Group and Pedro Castro of Dufry
Simon van Moppes of Pernod Ricard Global Travel Retail leads a well-deserved toast to the division’s Chairman & CEO Mohit Lal, who is to retire later this year
With Free Duty (Sky Connection) Chief Executive Officer and Mohit Lal
Thank you Mohit for all you have done for the travel retail industry
Now here’s a picture that tells a story. French wine company Peuch & Besse has enjoyed great success with its Wines of Golf Legends concept (winner of The QDF Factor 2021), a unique collaboration between some of the world’s most illustrious golfers and an array of outstanding winemakers. The original collection includes a fine Spanish wine in association with one of the country’s all-time greats, José María Olazábal. And soon a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc will be added to the line-up, this time in partnership with Kiwi golfing ace Michael Campbell, winner of the 2005 US Open. With proud Spaniard Pedro Castro of Dufry and myself as a rare flying Kiwi on hand, it was the perfect photo opportunity for Peuch & Besse Managing Director Sylvain Combe (second from left). Pernod Ricard Global Travel Retail’s Simon van Moppes joined in the fun.
Watchmaking house Fiyta is one of China’s most-respected and innovative brands, having grown into a household name across the country during the 36 years since its founding. Since 2003, the brand has provided high-quality timepieces to Chinese astronauts and become one of the world’s three major space watch brands. I enjoyed a fascinating conversation (captured in video below) with Fiyta International Business General Manager Jobs Wang (pictured above left with his colleagues).

Time to bring out the Cloudy Bay and Brancott Estate: With (left) Donatienne de Fontaines-Guillaume, TFWA Vice-President Commercial and Moët Hennessy Travel Retail Managing Director EMEA & Americas; and Charlotte Turner, Pernod Ricard Global Travel Retail Communications and S&R Manager
(Left) With that dynamite serial entrepreneur, Au Coeur du Luxe Founder & President Laurence Ouaknine; (Right) With Vertu
‘Explore, Experience, Expand’ – What more appropriate a backdrop could you have for a chat with Pravat Kumar Paikray, Vice-President Commercial Development at Bangalore International Airport Limited which is doing such a great job of bringing all those elements to bear in exciting style at Kempegowda International Airport Bengaluru in India.
My colleague Hannah Tan-Gillies, our dynamic Brands Director, and I had the pleasure of meeting The Estée Lauder Companies Travel Retail Asia Pacific team 
The Changi Airport Group management always give generously of their hard-pressed time to meet the media in Singapore and this year’s gathering at Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer in Marina Bay Sands was one of the most celebratory gatherings yet. Not surprisingly given the way Changi Airport has bounced back from the grim days of the pandemic.
But will Changi Airport Group’s outstanding Director Corporate and Marketing Communications Dennis Yim bounce back from this super-sized dessert?
What a great job Dicky Cheung, General Manager of the Retail Department at Shanghai Hong Kong Airport Management Co, is doing at Shanghai Hongqiao Airport. Shanghai Hong Kong Airport Management Co is a joint venture between Shanghai Airport Authority and Airport Authority Hong Kong. Look out for my on location report next month.
One of the nice things about top trade shows such as TFWA Asia Pacific is the chance encounters you have. Here I pose for a joint selfie with Hyundai Department Store Duty Free Cosmetics & Perfume Assistant Manager and Buyer Hee Sung Yu.
One of my favourite shots of the week with two people who are doing a lot to help the underprivileged. Pictured left is APTRA President and King Power Group (HK) CEO Sunil Tuli and centre Maitreyi Karanth, Founder of the Koma Karanth Foundation mentioned above. Sunil plans a 12-day, 5,400-metre ascent to Mount Everest Base Camp starting on 1 September. In the process he intends to raise at least US$35,000. The Moodie Davitt Report has donated US$2,500 towards the effort. Maitreyi is shown below in a very different setting, delivering a brilliantly outrageous stand-up gig at Comedy Marsala in Singapore later that night.
With Zhang Yimei and Samy Redjeb and Raphael Cheng from Bluebell China
One of the undoubted standouts of the week was L’Oréal Travel Retail Asia Pacific’s exhilirating return to the show. And what a presence the French beauty powerhouse had. Here L’Oréal Travel Retail Asia Pacific Managing Director Tao Zhang and L’Oréal Travel Retail President Vincent Boinay welcome guests to the stand.
Presenting Vincent Boinay with a copy of Miller’s Tale, the biography of DFS Co-founder Robert (Bob) Miller that I wrote
What a way to close out the show. One World Duty Free Founder & Chief Executive Officer Keira Zhang (fourth from left) invited The Moodie Davitt Report to celebrate our 21st anniversary with a small group of friends at the wonderful 35A Scotts private club. The club includes a whisky museum that showcases one of the world’s largest whisky collections. You can read the story of One World Duty Free, a genuinely credible and ambitious travel retail player, here.
With Lilith Yu and Gary Leong outside 35A Scotts
I know of few people in our industry who work as hard, as patiently and as stoically as TFWA Exhibitions Director Myriem Chalabi, an unsung heroine of our business. A suitable note to close on.