Will Nuance-Watson’s bold Changi bid bear fruit?

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

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If you’re into symbolism it doesn’t get much better than this picture.

I snapped it during the opening of Nuance-Watson Singapore’s elegant new perfumes & cosmetics mega-store at Changi Airport’s recently opened Terminal 3 last Friday.

Pictured is The Nuance Group President and CEO Roberto Graziani being handed a mandarin orange by one of the Chinese performers who entertained guests at the opening.

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To the Chinese, the gift of an orange symbolises the bestowal of wealth upon the recipient (the orange represents a gold ingot).

No wonder Roberto looks pleased. Nuance-Watson has staked much on the success of T3, necessarily so given the intense competition during the tender process last year. As has been well documented, the Swiss-Hong Kong joint venture headed rival bids from DFS Group, Aelia, Hotel Lotte and Aldeasa, committing some S$400.6 million (currently US$285 million) in guarantees over the 38-month term of the contract.

That’s a lot of money, especially given the added overhead that comes with running four terminals (including the Budget Terminal) instead of three.

Roberto Graziani was at pains to tell me last week that the company would still make money on the contract. Anyone who knows the Italian is aware that he is an honest man, one not given to hyperbole nor PR excess. Nor he is interested in bids that bring headlines but damage to the bottom line.

“Sometimes you can make a mistake in bidding too high to retain a concession but I can assure you this was not the case here,” he told me. “We were confident and we are now even more confident that we can achieve good results.”

Despite a difficult physical layout – unlike the completely open T2 mega-store this one is funneled from a big wide entrance into a narrow, pointed and closed end – the T3 store does impress. It’s full of innovation and creativity, as well as a host of big name and emergent brands.

It won’t be easy but barring external disasters and with decent passenger growth, oranges will not be the only fruit that Roberto Graziani bears during Nuance-Watson’s term at T3.

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