Latest posts by Martin Moodie (see all)
- How China Duty Free Group is leading the virtual-physical charge - September 25, 2021
- Tales of Shelleys, Sabrage and Sunilage from Hong Kong - September 20, 2021
- Funny where the time goes - September 16, 2021
5.45a.m at Moodie Davitt Asia HQ in Discovery Bay, Hong Kong and I’ve started what will be a long, long day as I often do by taking a morning coffee up on the roof and taking in the beauty of this place.
The air is sticky with 73% humidity, the sky heavy with dark cloud. The 6a.m ferry – the first of the day – is getting all warmed up and out in the bay a group of hardy rowers are putting in some early miles. There’s barely a sound across the bay other than a symphony of bird song in its way as beautiful as the timbre of the solo flute in Edvard Grieg’s sublime Morning Mood from Peer Gynt, which I often play at daybreak. I’ll take some artistic licence and call my own personal winged music Morning Moodie.
Since those long-ago first lockdown days in the UK – can you believe that’s nearly 13 months ago? – I’ve tried to keep as fit as possible to offset the mental strain (and by now sheer mental weariness) of running a business through crisis. I picked up an exercise bike free of charge on the local Discovery Bay Buy/Sell/Swap Facebook page that just might pre-date the Fred Flintstone era. Then again, some people say that I might too. A couple of dumb-bells (you can tell them as they aren’t wearing masks) and a HK$900 second-hand foldable treadmill with all its instructions in Chinese and Moodie’s Morning Gym is complete.
I position my Fred Flintstone-mobile near the edge of the roof so I can just breathe in the wonder of nature and ponder the day ahead.
A glance at various news websites on my cell phone offers plenty of gloom – hundreds of COVID-19 cases in India after more than 3 million mosty unmasked Hindu devotees bathed in the Ganges on Tuesday to celebrate the Kumbh Mela festival; Denmark stopping the use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid vaccine amid concerns about cases of blood clots; Japan’s highest daily case tally since 28 January; South Korea’s highest in over three months; and, from CNN, news that 1 in 5 (21%) Americans saying they will “likely never” get the vaccine. What was that about dumb-bells?
To cheer myself up, I catch up on the sport. Oops. Liverpool knocked out of the Champions League by Real Madrid. Better not call Qatar Duty Free Vice President Operations Thabet Musleh, a die-hard Reds supporter, as I had planned today.
In travel retail industry terms, the news (much of it from us) continues to be as mixed as a bag of licorice allsorts, some tasty and tempting, far too many sour and hard to digest.
This week’s news that Hong Kong is to open its borders to pre-tested Mainlanders without the need for quarantine is an encouraging breakthrough, though it will need the Mainland authorities to reciprocate before any real recovery of Hong Kong’s travel retail sector can begin. But it’s an important step, especially in the wake of Macau seeing some impressive spending figures over recent weeks after the reintroduction of the Individual Visit Scheme to the whole Mainland. More good news, too, as Hong Kong and Singapore get very close to recreating the Air Travel Bubble so frustratingly thwarted late last year.
We make a real effort to highlight positive news from our channel, a vital antidote to so much that is negative. Yesterday we covered China Duty Free Group’s impressive Q1 results, underpinned by its performance in the travel retail hotspot of Hainan. And a couple of nice stories from DFS in Macau (below) that would have seemed standard coverage 15 months ago but now stand out for their positivity among the industry malaise.
L’Oréal Travel Retail Asia Pacific and DFS Group partnered to host the ultra-premium ‘Black Bandage Discovery’ Helena Rubinstein VIP event at T Galleria by DFS in The Shoppes at Four Seasons Hotel this month. The event welcomed 100 DFS Group VIP members and reimagined the luxury beauty shopping journey through a series of exclusive, premium and personalised digital experiences. On the same day we wrote about DFS partnering with Swiss luxury watch manufacturer Franck Muller in the ‘Time To Go Crazy’ exhibition at T Galleria by DFS, Macau, Shoppes at Four Seasons.
Lovely stories both. How good would it be if we could bring you similar reports from around the globe and not just have our ‘Good News’ section largely confined to China? But a glance at the COVID-19 headlines from Japanese and Korean media, and those from countries such as Brazil, France, India, Ireland and Italy confirm just how tightly this damned virus has humanity in its grip. Amid all the talk about sector ‘recovery’, the reality is that any such curve is going to be country by country, route by route, step by step (alas in both directions). Inch by bloody inch.
Back to the day and night job. I’m blasting Peer Gynt out loud now in my study. The Morning Mood is, as ever these days, a mixed one.