LAX contract the icing on the cake after a perfect week for DFS

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

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Seven days since my last stop here, I’m back at the Tom Bradley International Terminal at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), en route from Hawaii back to London.

A week is a long time in travel retail and since I was last here, DFS has successfully retained its duty free concession in the face of white-hot competition from a bidding line-up stacked with some of the industry’s biggest names.

That news, which we revealed yesterday, was some way to cap off a big, emotional week for DFS, which for the past few days has been celebrating the 50th anniversary of its Hawaiian operation.

Whereas DFS was the challenger at Hong Kong International Airport, where it stunningly took all three core category concessions on offer last month, in LAX it was cast in the role of defender. But as they say, the best form of defence is attack and I understand from the DFS management team that they put in a profoundly ambitious qualitative bid, supported by aggressive but commercially viable numbers.

That was, I also understand, the commercial cocktail in Hong Kong, and reports elsewhere that DFS bid highest financially in all three categories there are likely to be wide of the mark. DFS rated top in all three bids on a combination of the technical and financial criteria – a very different scenario. It put massive emphasis on creativity and quality of environment and offer.

It’s been a fabulous week in a fabulous place. From a journalistic point of view, it couldn’t get much better. I met an industry legend, DFS Co-Founder Bob Miller; I was privileged to be on hand at the 50th anniversay celebrations of one of DFS’s two original operations (the other is Hong Kong – wow, hasn’t the circle been squared?); I was on hand at the changing of the management guard as Philippe Schaus was named to take over from Ed Brennan (a very emotional moment, by the way, for all the DFS management) and as Michael Schriver received a richly deserved promotion to Chief Operating Officer.

Last night I had a farewell dinner with David Charles, who is doing an incredible job in Hawaii for DFS, along with his colleagues Michael Schriver, Christian Strang, Andrew Ford and Craig McKenna. It was a brilliant night and the mood was, understandably buoyant about recent success and poignant when it came to Ed Brennan’s departure.

Collectively, the events of the past few weeks have been as significant as anything that has happened over the retailer’s 52-year history.

They’ve certainly kept me busy both on the publishing and travel front. Time to slow down with a glass or two of Sauvignon Blanc on the long flight home to London and to think about forthcoming assignements in this industry that is never less than enthralling. That’s my boarding announcement – time to get back on the travel retail road.

Footnote: Note something in common between most of the photos above and below at LAX? Not for the first time during my various sojourns around the world this year I noted heavy pan-concourse advertising by Estée Lauder, reaching out to the consumer at every stage of their journey through the airport. Cumulatively, it is very powerful.

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