Show time in Orlando as DFASS/Shilla deal steals the headlines

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

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After a weekend of glorious Florida sunshine it’s a wet and humid day here in Orlando as the annual Duty Free Show of the Americas swings into action.

I suspect all the talk at the show will revolve around The Shilla Hotel’s acquisition of a 44% stake in DFASS for US$105 million with the option to buy a further 36% stake in five years time. That is some result for Benny Klepach (below), the Miami-based entrepreneur, who has built his company from scratch in 1987 to the world’s leading inflight concessionaire.

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Critically, certainly from Shilla’s perspective, DFASS enjoys a range of key distribution agreements with various high-end brand owners for liquor, cosmetics & perfumes and watches.  With Shilla entering the liquor & tobacco space at Incheon International Airport following its recent tender success, expect that relationship to be pivotal to this deal.

Meantime the show kicks off amid what is arguably the most troubled global climate I have seen in 28 years of commentating on this business. With the Russian business in meltdown worldwide (devalued Rouble, Ukraine crisis); the Brazilian Real in freefall (it hit a 12-year low last Thursday; the Japanese Yen trading -20% down against the Dollar; the Chinese government crackdown on corruption and luxury gift giving and – shall I continue? – the growing instability of much of the Middle East and a worryingly large chunk of Africa and you have what one senior brand executive last night described to me as “the perfect storm”.

It is tough out there. Very, very tough. South Korea is one of the few bright lights and today it reflected that light on Miami.

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[With Colm McLoughlin and Harry Diehl on the Hawk’s Landing Golf Course]

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[The closest I got to a birdie all day]

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[Former IAADFS President David Bernstein hosted his traditional Friday evening dinner for close friends. It was wonderful to see his wife Pat looking so healthy after recent major surgery.]

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[Three blooming roses: Loraine Motta, Breeda McLoughlin and Lui Ming Chang] 

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[José Luis Donagaray, Colm McLoughlin, Peter Sant and John Gallagher at the Opening Cocktail]


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