Updating the real industry ‘Trinity’

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

Irish Trinity original_Small

It is late October 1986. Three young, successful retailers (above) are celebrating three accolades bestowed on a young, successful retail company at the Frontier Awards in Cannes.

Dubai Duty Free had won, respectively, Airport Duty Free Operator of the Year (1985) and Best Marketing Campaign by a Retailer (1986), while the man in the centre had been named Duty Free Personality of the Year (1986).

The celebratory picture of those young executives, who would come to be known as the ‘Irish Trinity’ – (left to right) George Horan, Colm McLoughlin and John Sutcliffe – has been published many times down the years.

George (now Deputy Managing Director) and Colm (Managing Director) have been synonymous with Dubai Duty Free ever since its creation in 1983 while John Sutcliffe, then Deputy General Manager, was to later carve out his own slice of Middle East retail history by driving the creation of Aer Rianta International-Middle East, now a business worth some US$850 million in managed turnover.

Roll on 23 years. Today Dubai Duty Free decided history needed updating and the original Irish Trinity came together to recreate that landmark photograph (below). The Moodie Report, not even a sparkle in its creator’s eye 23 years ago, was proud to capture the moment.

They held the same trophies, the same poses, even the same smiles. No reference was made to any change (or erosion) of hairstyle, or expansion of waistlines (in fact the phrase “You haven’t changed a bit” was heard more than once) and it was generally agreed that each had become sartorially more elegant over the past quarter century.

Irish Trinity 5_Small

Besides the poses and the ageless trophies, one other thing hadn’t changed.

Each remains a key and influential individual in the travel retail industry and synonymous with integrity, good humour and self-made success. The Irish Trinity of 1986 was clearly a very good and very durable vintage.

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