Moving to the Marina

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

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The view from The Moodie Report’s Marina Bay Sands bureau is stunning and the facilities below my 40th floor room are something pretty special too.

What an amazing city state this is, and what a great choice of location for the relocated TFWA Asia Pacific show. Give me this view over that from, say, the Pan Pacific any day.

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Like most of Asia’s travel retail industry, it seems, I’ve arrived in Singapore for one of the key events on the calendar.

After years of turning up at the same venue, everyone is intrigued as to how the Marina Bay Sands Expo & Convention Centre will fare as a venue. First impressions are pretty favourable – the hotel itself epitomises modern Singapore: sleek, spectacular, vast and vibrant. The sprawling style won’t be to everyone’s taste but in terms of keeping delegates together on (an admittedly immense) site, it does the job.

The conference hall was cavernous, as big a classroom set-up as you would encounter outside a Moonie wedding ceremony, and boy was it packed for an excellent opening conference that surely attracted a record crowd.

Things kicked off in style on Sunday night with the Opening Cocktail at Raffles, a fun if sweltering affair organised in trademark slick fashion by TFWA.

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[What is Stuart Bull telling the TFWA film crew?]

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Industry attention is of course also tuned into Singapore for other reasons as the heat is turned up on the core category tenders currently out to bid at Singapore Changi Airport.

There DFS will be defending its liquor & tobacco concession and Nuance-Watson the perfume & cosmetics contract. Both have done a top-class job in Singapore. Both know they will face intense competition, not least from one another, with a glittering field of international retailers expected to take part.

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[DFS Group’s liquor & tobacco Arrivals duty free store to the left; Nuance-Watson’s perfumes & cosmetics outlet to the right]

Given DFS’s wholly unexpected clean sweep at Hong Kong International Airport last year, this contest has extra edge. For Nuance-Watson it’s really a must-win after the bitter disappointment of Hong Kong. Nuance President Roberto Graziani promises a double-barrelled effort at both concessions but whether Changi Airport Group would put both commercial eggs in one basket remains to be seen.

Given that context, it’s been interesting to watch the DFS offer take shape at Hong Kong International Airport in recent months. I’ve flown through there several times this year and each time progress on this vast retail project has moved up a notch. Some of the hoardings are still in place but things are moving on at pace.

Liquor & tobacco seems to be the area where most progess has been made and there are a number of DFS innovations in place. Note the Lan Kwai Fong cocktail bar and complimentary wine tasting device below. It’s going to be a few months before the whole vast store network is transformed across all three core categories. And while that transformation takes place, another contract saga will be playing out at Hong Kong’s rival airport, Changi. In this business the drama never lets up.Lan Kwai 1

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HKIA liquor 1

HKIA liquor 2

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hki beauty exterio

 

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