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I’m in beautiful and historic St Petersburg, Russia’s second-largest city, for what promises to be a memorable day for The Nuance Group.
As I write in the early hours of the morning, final touches are being added before the formal opening of Nuance’s new retail offer at St Petersburg Pulkovo Airport.
Nuance won the duty free concession at Pulkovo last year, and soft opened a few months ago in over 3,000sq m of retail space in the new passenger terminal.
After winning the business, Nuance acquired 80% of Lenrianta LLC, the long-time leading travel retailer at St Petersburg Pulkovo Airport, started by Aer Rianta International during its halcyon days in Russia.
Last night at a dinner at the W Hotel hosted by Nuance CEO Europe and Global Chief Commercial Officer Andrea Belardini (third left below) and long-time Lenrianta LLC Director General Anatoly Shashin (second from left), together with other senior members of the Nuance team, myself and Kevin Rozario of Travel Retail Business, we drank a vodka (or two) in honour of the grand occasion.
With Anatoly choosing the vodka, we knew we were in good hands and the traditional toast of ‘Nah zdahrohvye’ rang out loud and frequently through the evening.
The Nuance management are very excited about the quality and potential of what they have created here and anticipation levels are running high for today’s big occasion.
As always in my hectic work life, this, sadly, is a whistlestop tour to one of the world’s great cities. I flew in yesterday, writing all the way for our Singapore show issue print edition, led by the amazing, indefatigable Dermot Davitt, which closes today (the fine vodka last night ensured I was able to keep writing until the early hours) and flying back out this afternoon.
[Most Editors by the way would be getting stressed to the point of explosion by the fact that I had not turned in any of my remaining seven features two days ago. Not Dermot. Known for being so laid back he’s horizontal, he knows that somewhere, somehow I’ll be good for it. Right Dermot? Take a deep breath; pretend you’re playing the final hole of the Dubai Duty Free Golf World Cup. Don’t worry about a thing, I’m on my seventh strong coffee and the copy is flowing like the River Liffey. Dark and murky.]
Yesterday I walked out of my hotel on the streets, took a couple of photos (below) and raced back inside to keep the copy flowing to London before dinner. That is not the way to treat a city of this majesty.
I keep saying I will return at leisure to all these magnificent places I have had the honour to visit once I retire, free of duty at last. In this case, I just know I will keep that promise.