Passing The Moodie Blog baton to The Enniskerry Globetrotter

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

The World Rovers (Dr Brendan O’Regan’s legacy) – composed over an Irish whiskey (or three) in 2007

[To the tune of ‘The Wild Rover’ – Traditional]

Well they’ve been the world rovers for manys the year
And they’ve made lots of money from whiskey and beer
They keep on expanding and building great stores
Those great pioneers of a great Irish cause

Chorus: And it’s hey, ho, forever – a great tale of folklore
Here come the Irish, to a duty free store

The Moodie Blog has now been running since September 2006, 16 years of being “up close and personal in travel retail” as our tagline says. Goodness knows how many posts I have written down those years but every time I delve into the archive it brings back fond memories and mixed emotions of my time doing a job that has never been anything less than a privilege. Many happy times along the way, some people (too many) lost along the way. A life and career cycle. A journey. Nearly a third of my life.

I try to bring a personal perspective to my Blog – whether it be humorous, poignant or, if necessary, critical – to my experiences and those of others. The approach seems to have struck a chord with the industry and as I reach into the twilight of my career I find the Blog a refreshing alternative to the more structured disciplines of our mainstream reporting and commentating.

My first post on The Moodie Blog, more than 16 years ago. Click on the image to read.

Through those years, we have been blessed by the support of some outstanding individuals and companies. The Moodie Blog was first sponsored (and for many years) by Mars brand M&M’s, courtesy of industry veteran Stuart Bull, who served the company with such distinction for over four decades (and with whom I am glad to say I am still in regular contact). The initials, of course, were just right and the spirit of the company (though a giant whale shark to our minnow) married with our then young and bold vision. And I loved the fun that was implicit in the M&M’s brand and its various characters.

Stuart Bull, the man from Mars (the company not the planet), receives a special award from Martin Moodie in 2017 for his immense contribution to the travel retail industry

Stuart, arguably the only man in travel retail to wear louder ties than Dubai Duty Free Executive Vice Chairman and CEO Colm McLoughlin, was a big believer in the Blog and its willingness to be less anodyne than much of the industry media content of the time.

Thomas Bodenmann and Victorinox brought a cutting-edge quality to The Moodie Blog

Thomas Bodenmann, then Director Global Travel Retail/Duty Free at Swiss company Victorinox, was next to take up the baton (I always liked to think that the producer of the world-famous  Swiss Army Knife recognised our cutting-edge qualities).

To my great delight, especially considering how much I enjoy their great product, Bowmore Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky took over in 2021 and for the latter part of last year the dynamic entrepreneurial spirit of Graeme Stewart at UK company Enviro-Point entered the scene.

Today I am delighted to announce our new long-term sponsor, Duty Free Global. Actually, I prefer the term ‘partner’. For the man behind the agreement walks, talks and acts partnership in every breath he takes, every deal he strikes and every action he executes.

That man is Barry Geoghegan, Founder & CEO of Duty Free Global, a company specialised in the representation of fine wines & spirits in travel retail. But ‘representation’ sells Barry and Duty Free Global short.

The company introduces, champions and celebrates brands – many of them hitherto comparatively unknown in the channel – in travel retail. Barry, an aficionado of wine (for which he has an almost unrivalled knowledge) and spirits, is an evangelist for the joint category and the channel is all the better for it.

Since joining the travel retail sector in 2010 at the TFWA Asia Pacific show in Singapore, I reckon he has generated more air miles than half the industry combined, such is his recognition of the importance of personal relationships and his passion for them. The Enniskerry Globetrotter.

So gather you round boys while I sing the tale
Of the great Irish effort in travel retail
McLoughlin, Maloney, Sutcliffe and more
O’Regan and Skelly – those great names of yore

Chorus: And it’s hey, ho, forever – a great tale of folklore
Here come the Irish, to a duty free store

He is a true World Rover to borrow from the title of a book we published in 2007 that described the seminal influence of many outstanding Irishmen and women who had roamed the travel retail globe over the previous six decades. One of them was, of course, Barry’s Dad Michael (‘Mick’), part of the original Aer Rianta team that went to Dubai in 1983 to help the local government establish what would become Dubai Duty Free.

Like father, like son: Click on the images above or below to read Mick Geoghegan’s remarkable story and turn to page 90

It started in Shannon with modest intent
A little kiosk saw the first money spent
Brendan O’Regan and young Kitty Downes
The great pioneers from a great Irish town

Chorus: And it’s hey, ho, forever – a great tale of folklore
Here come the Irish, to a duty free store

Then came Chuck Feeney, a legend no less
His mother was Irish, he co-built DFS
He made many millions out of duty free stores
But gave it away to the peace-loving cause

Chorus: And it’s hey, ho, forever – a great tale of folklore
Here come the Irish, to a duty free store

The Duty Free Global portfolio (see below) reflects Barry’s approach to life and to business. It offers excitement, points of difference and – not least – story telling. But it’s also commercial. Barry can spot a winner. And he has been instrumental in creating many winners in the channel.

Barry Geoghegan: A true World Rover

In late 2022, we asked the industry to support us in deciding our annual People of the Year. Barry’s name came up more than any other. It seems appropriate to repeat the words we used in the announcement.

Barry’s bloodline in the duty free industry runs deep. His father Michael (Mick), now sadly passed, was one of the Aer Rianta delegation that came out to Dubai in 1983 to advise the government on setting up what would become Dubai Duty Free, one of travel retail’s greatest and most enduring success stories. Michael Geoghegan was also the first Aer Rianta International employee, and like Barry, a great character in our industry.

Barry – whose passion for travel retail is matched by his love of wine, a category he understands intimately – has been a powerful voice of positivity for our sector through the pandemic.

While other brands, distributors and retailers were shedding people and contracts, he was taking on new resource, expertise and brand partners, all underpinned by a firm belief that travel retail would rebound once pandemic restrictions began to ease. That faith is now being richly rewarded.

He has championed the industry in other ways too, including through his company’s unwavering support of industry events, from TFWA’s exhibitions and seminars to our own Virtual Travel Retail Expo and conferences such as The Trinity Forum.

But it is perhaps in other less public ways that Barry has displayed his great humanity and his ability to bring people together. He is always there to offer advice, support and encouragement to others in the business – especially but not limited to newcomers and those from his native Ireland.

He is also a force for ensuring people stay connected, through WhatsApp groups or in person, helping to ensure that our sector remains what it always has been at its best – a people business.

A people business indeed. I am particularly proud therefore to welcome Duty Free Global as the latest sponsor of a column that by name and nature is both very personal to me and all about people. And heck, who knows, Barry may have spotted another winner. He truly is part of our industry founder’s legacy. Those lyrics I composed way back in 2007, only one year into this Blog, may need updating. I just need to find a rhyme with Geoghegan. Perhaps I can find the answer back in 1947.

Then in the 80s in the great Middle East
The Irish created a new shopping feast
A man called McLoughlin he built it with glee
And soon it was famous – Dubai Duty Free

Chorus: And it’s hey, ho, forever – a great tale of folklore
Here come the Irish, to a duty free store

Later that decade in the age of Glasnost
The Irish built Moscow at very great cost
The land of the Kremlin, the Bolshoi and more
Now gave the world a great duty free store

Chorus: And it’s hey, ho, forever – a great tale of folklore
Here come the Irish, to a duty free store

With warm hearts and spirit and plenty of banter
Out to the world came bold Aer Rianta
The men and the women all answered the call
From Kiev to Thailand to old Montreal

Chorus: And it’s hey, ho, forever – a great tale of folklore
Here come the Irish, to a duty free store

Out in Bahrain a great force it was born
As Sutcliffe’s boys took the region by storm
From Muscat to Doha, Beirut to Bahrain
The ARI men were the industry’s gain

Chorus: And it’s hey, ho, forever – a great tale of folklore
Here come the Irish, to a duty free store

So they’ll stay the world rovers for many more years
And they’ll keep selling perfume, whiskies and beers
They’ll never stop working and they’ll never fail
So here’s to the Irish in travel retail

Chorus: And it’s hey, ho, forever – a great tale of folklore
Here come the Irish, to a duty free store]

Well they built a great business and they built it with pride
Their impact was massive, and it was worldwide
They are the soul of the words ‘duty free’
So let us salute Brendan’s legacy

Chorus: And it’s hey, ho, forever – a great tale of folklore
Here come the Irish, to a duty free store

Above and below: Duty Free Global represents an eclectic array of fine wines & spirits

  • Lovely piece Martin. Lots of great memories flooding back as I read it here in Manila. It was a great adventure indeed and you and Dermot and your team , and all the media in our industry , did so well in helping to expand and grow our fantastic industry worldwide.

    Personally , I had many great adventures as one of the pioneers in the industry in Eastern Europe and especially the Middle East Region, but in my retirement what I recall most , and indeed miss most is the great characters I had the pleasure to work with and meet along the way.

    Well done young Barry Geoghegan. You remind me so much of your Dad and my good friend Michael.

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