The return of Lady B

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This writer’s week was considerably brightened by the news that one of travel retail’s most stylish Prodigals is returning to the fold. Fellow Cymraes Bethan Williams, who left the channel in 2007 for a domestic role within Bobbi Brown UK, has been appointed Vice President Global Market Development for Jo Malone, effective 15 July. It’s not a specialist travel retail role per se, but Williams’s remit is to lead the development of Jo Malone’s business across all regions and sales channels, and that includes travel retail.

Bethan Williams: back in travel retail

Bring out the bunting. Williams (affectionately known as Lady B – don’t ask) is simply one of a kind. Chic, classy, savvy, beautiful and very, very bright, she is blessed with exceptional business acumen, superhuman energy, legendary motivational skills – and a wardrobe to die for. The Taffia has simply not been the same without her.

During her years in the channel before Bobbi Brown (which included various positions within Estée Lauder Travel Retailing, plus successful stints with World Duty Free in Europe and the US) Williams exemplified the industry’s ‘work hard, play hard’ credo. The press trip she organised to the Millennium Stadium to see Wales beat England en route to a Grand Slam was, on every level, indescribable; her travel retail leaving party was the stuff of legends; and remember ladies, what happened in Zuma, stays in Zuma.

As ever, Williams’s timing is impeccable: things are happening – and how – at Jo Malone. The latest fragrance, Wild Bluebell, heralds a radical change of direction for the brand, following the appointment last year of James Gager as Senior Vice President, Group Creative Director. Gager, described by the group as a “game-changer”, is on a mission to reinvigorate the brand, and to enable it to communicate in different ways. This will suit Ms Williams’s MO down to the ground. To echo a certain Welsh woman’s catchphrase: “TEAM, it is all coming together.”

Croeso Nôl Bethan. See you for some Champagne in Cannes?

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