INTERNATIONAL. The Moodie Davitt Report has launched a new column dedicated to recognising people in our industry – frontline, back office, logistics, management and more – for their commitment and achievements.

The Travel Retail Superstars column is a key component of the first-ever Travel Retail Superstars Awards & Knowledge Programme, the most comprehensive employee recognition platform yet seen in the travel retail channel. See below for details.

If you want to nominate a team member, or team, for inclusion in this column, please email Mark Lane at or Martin Moodie at Details of the Awards programme will be revealed soon.

25 June

Travel Retail Superstars 19: Chris Hunter and Bryan Levy, Vino Volo

Gregg Paradies, President and CEO of Paradies Lagardère, often posts on LinkedIn with praise for his front line workers in airports. They have all played a part in helping the travel retail and F&B company overcome the tough challenges of the last 18 months in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pictured left to right are Chris Hunter, Gregg Paradies, Bryan Levy and John Jamison, Paradies Lagardère EVP & CFO

On this occasion, Gregg was on a visit to Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport, where he called in on Paradies Lagardère-owned restaurant and wine bar Vino Volo to chat with the brand’s Senior Wine Associate Chris Hunter and Wine Associate Bryan Levy.

He said: “It was great to visit Detroit and see smiling travellers who were thrilled that Vino Volo has reopened in DTW. I am very proud of Chris and Bryan, our infectious Vino Volo leaders! Brian, congratulations on your 10th anniversary with our company!”

The Vino Volo brand now encompasses restaurants in 37 North American airports.


Travel Retail Superstars 18: MSC Cruises Fashion Category Manager Monica Somma

MSC Cruises Fashion Category Manager Monica Somma had the honour of being chosen by her employer to perform the traditional maritime coin ceremony for the new ship, MSC Seashore, yesterday.

In a LinkedIn post, MSC Cruises Head of Retail Adrian Pittaway had this high praise for Monica: “Really exciting that our godmother of the coin ceremony is one of our retail team, Monica Somma. Today is the culmination of over 40 years of true passion for Monica with MSC, having given her heart and soul to our company.

Fincantieri Production Supervisor Jolette Vincenzi (left) and Monica Somma performed the traditional maritime ritual as ‘godmothers’ when they placed two coins within the ship’s keel as a historical sign of blessing and good fortune for the construction of the ship MSC Seascape and her future life at sea

“Recognising the people who are true role models of our company values is a wonderful part of being in a family company, and today really is a wonderful recognition of the service that Monica has provided to MSC over many years.

“We will be looking forward to showcase more fantastic retail onboard MSC Seascape, when she sails next November as the next part of our evolution!”

Monica performed the coin ceremony duty alongside fellow ship ‘godmother’ Jolette Vincenzi, Production Supervisor from Fincantieri, the Italian shipyard where the new vessel is being built.

MSC Seascape – MSC Cruises’ 21st ship – will set sail in November 2022.

14 June

Travel Retail Superstars 17: Cyprus Duty Free Covid Compliance Officers, Oksana Naumenko and Andreas Lysiotis

Cyprus Duty Free General Manager Andrew Baker has been in touch with the column to highlight the work of his Covid Compliance Officers, Oksana Naumenko and Andreas Lysiotis, at Larnaca International Airport in Cyprus.

The duo have become known internally as the ‘Covid-Busters’ in carrying out their diligent work to make sure Cyprus Duty Fee shops are safe for customers and all colleagues are fully trained and educated with regards to the safety issues surrounding the pandemic.

Andrew told The Moodie Davitt Report: “Oksana and Andreas have approached the role – which they took up in Summer 2020 – with maturity and passion, taking seriously the responsibility of ensuring an extremely safe shopping environment for customers but equally important, a safe working environment for colleagues.

As a mark of respect and gratitude for the job they are doing, the Cyprus Duty Free marketing team created this Covid-Busters poster of Andreas Lysiotis (left) and Oksana Naumenko

“They took on the communications with suppliers of hand sanitisers, masks, gloves and all cleaning and disinfecting materials, ensuring adequate stocks were available in the business at all times.

“They have always been positive and approached the role with good humour and have had great results – their positions are well respected amongst the team.

“They have always ensured the necessary actions have been carried out in a timely fashion regardless of time of day or night.

“Both have really embraced the new and additional responsibilities the role has presented and have grown in experience and confidence as a result.”

Andrew added that the duo have been sending emails and messages to colleagues at all hours of the day with COVID-19 guidelines and updates from the Cypriot Ministry of Health.

Cyprus Duty Free operates nine stores at Larnaca International, including a 3,500sq m duty free store in the airside departures area.

Andrew told us that business at the airport is picking up gradually, with 22% of 2019 numbers passing through Lanarca in May. The pax numbers continue to be hit by the limited numbers of passengers arriving from the UK, which traditionally has been the number one source of travellers for the airport.


Travel Retail Superstars 16: Ian Upton, Heathrow Airport Retail Operations Manager

Heathrow Airport has been in touch with the Travel Retail Superstars column to share some high praise for its Retail Operations Manager Ian Upton.

The airport said he has worked tirelessly on a number of issues relating to retail and F&B at the London travel hub in face of COVID-19. Ian’s line manager, Head of Category – Heathrow Retail Julie Donnelly, had this to say about him: “Ian has been instrumental in the demobilisation and remobilisation of our retail and F&B areas at Heathrow. He has guided internal and external stakeholders through a wide-ranging and ever-changing range of guidelines and legislation.

“He has been a leading light for retail partners translating the changes in a calm and pragmatic way thus earning the trust of passengers so they feel safe to fly and eat and shop!

Ian Upton’s colleagues at Heathrow have marked him out as a great leader on matters related to COVID-19 in these severely challenging times for the airport and its retail and F&B tenants

“We have maintained COVID-safe passenger experiences in the shops, restaurants and takeaways working within government restrictions and giving the passengers the best customer experience possible in a restricted environment, which we couldn’t have done without Ian’s influence.

“A wellbeing champion for our wider commercial team, Ian has stepped up a gear in providing a sounding board for all things COVID for colleagues and is at the forefront of our schemes to support our staff through these difficult times.

“After managing the mothballing of Terminal 3 and 4, latterly he has been guiding the commercial offer through the complex activity of opening terminal 3 as a red arrivals route terminal which will soon be transferred into terminal 4. The work goes on!”

Heathrow Airport Retail & Property Director Fraser Brown added: “Ian’s passion and commitment, his care for his colleagues and the business is unsurpassed.”


Travel Retail Superstars 15: Apo Stjärnborg, Wayne’s Coffee HMSHost Sweden, Stockholm Arlanda Airport

We have come across some very high praise on LinkedIn for Apo Stjärnborg, a front line worker for HMSHost Sweden’s Wayne’s Coffee franchise at Stockholm Arlanda Airport, from Wayne’s Coffee CEO Joakim Carlsson.

Joakim had this to say about Apo, who has worked for HMSHost for the past eight years: “You will be so happy when you meet a fantastic service guy like Apo! Finally long queues at Waynes Arlanda and Apo serves everyone with a smile, awesome upsell and always with ‘Nice trip’ as the end. Proud of my co-workers!”

Joakim Carlsson (left) with star worker Apo Stjärnborg on a recent visit to Wayne’s Coffee at Stockholm Arlanda Airport

Wayne’s Coffee shop – which has been operated by HMSHost at the airport since 2011 – has suffered from various closures and limited opening hours since March 2020 last year but finally fully-reopened for business in mid-May.

Speaking about how HMSHost Sweden workers in travel environments have responded to the challenges of the pandemic, HMSHost Communications Manager – International Cathy Jongens told The Moodie Davitt Report: “All employees at HMSHost Sweden have been flexible, solution-oriented and cooperative despite the incredibly difficult time we have all been experiencing.

It’s back to business for Wayne’s Coffee at Stockholm Arlanda Airport after a long period of uncertainty caused by the pandemic

“Working in the travel industry during a global pandemic, when the world turns upside-down from one day to the next, requires tenacity.

“While our guests were at home in lockdown, our stores were closed for extensive periods, creating an ‘uncertain tomorrow’ which demands a certain endurance that our employees met in a fantastic way.

“During this time we all put our focus on the positive things; we really love what we do. We took the opportunity to educate and develop ourselves, upskill our teams cross-stores, and prepared for the day when the world returns to a new normal.”

13 June

Travel Retail Superstars 14: Lagardère Travel Retail Singapore team

More than half of the Lagardère Travel Retail Singapore team recently joined the Waterway Watch Society (WWS) at the Kallang Riverside for the Clean-Up by Foot event.

Participation in this activity forms part of the company’s PEPS approach (People, Ethics, Planet, Social) in its group CSR strategy.

One of the groups from the Lagardere Travel Retail Singapore team during the clean-up at the Kallang Riverside

The team donned their PEPS t-shirts and met with WWS representatives for an educative session to learn about the impacts of litter on Singapore’s waters and wildlife.

The volunteers then went on by foot in separate groups along the shores of the scenic Marina Reservoir to pick up litter. From plastic wrappers to discarded bottles, the team combed the area meticulously, gathering over 60kg of litter in just a few hours.

Posting on LinkedIn, Lagardère Travel Retail Head of Marketing Merchandising Henry Lim said: “Kudos to everyone who participated during the clean-up! It was a meaningful opportunity to be able to play a part. The weather was great that day.

“The group I was in picked up liquor bottles, beer cans and lots of plastic. It was also nice to explore a different side of Singapore for a local like myself!”


5 June

Travel Retail Superstars 14: HMSHost Shake Shack team, LaGuardia Airport

It’s always good to hear of someone who is happy in their work, and you can safely apply that to Jean Urbina, F&B Multi Operations Manager at HMSHost International.

Business is fast picking up at HMSHost’s Shake Shack restaurant, a popular fast food concept, at New York LaGuardia Airport, and it sounds like Jean could not be happier about it.

In a LinkedIn post, he expressed his delight in working with the Shake Shack team, both front and back of house.

Jean said: “Working side by side with your team and celebrating their success, their commitment, their passion for all they do to deliver legendary service here in our Shake Shack at LGA.

“We love to see more people flying every week and there is no better motivation than working with such a great team. I’m just a lucky guy!”

Travel Retail Superstars 13: Staff of VipWing, Munich Airport

The VipWing, a 1,700sq m premium airport lounge at Munich Airport, reopened for business on 1 June, coinciding exactly with the date of its tenth anniversary.

The VipWing, with its wide-ranging air passenger VIP services and Bavarian-influenced design, has seen its staff welcome more than 250,000 guests since it opened in 2011

Munich Airport CEO and Chairman Jost Lammers has posted about the milestone on LinkedIn and paid this tribute to the lounge’s staff: “Congratulations on the 10th anniversary and the reopening of the VipWing. A big thank you goes above all to our employees, who enliven this first-class 5-star product every day with heart and the highest service awareness.”

3 June

Travel Retail Superstars 12: Gebr. Heinemann staff

Gebr. Heinemann CEO Max Heinemann has taken to LinkedIn to hail the reopening of the German travel retailer’s tax free store at Copenhagen Airport after a COVID-induced 158-day shutdown, with his team, including the front liners, uppermost in his thoughts.

He posted just four words, which will resonate with the whole travel retail community: “Perseverance. Team. Travel. Countdown.”

Back in business: There is a great buzz on social media from Gebr. Heinemann as its team returns to serve customers in its Copenhagen Airport store

His pronouncement came in response to a post this week by Heinemann Head of Sales, Category and Logistics Denmark Ahmad Raad, who said this: “After five months of crisis management, keeping the business intact and more Teams meetings than I can count, I’m glad to announce that we will reopen on the 1st of June.

“Most of our staff have been sent home since the 25th of December and they are all ready to deliver great Gebr. Heinemann service.

“So dear network – please share the news and remember to shop in our beautiful shops when you visit the airport.”

31 May

Travel Retail Superstars 11: SSP Thailand team

SSP Thailand’s team has been performing admirable deeds from two of its restaurants at Don Mueang International Airport.

In an ongoing initiative, the team has cooked and delivered food for doctors and nurses at the Bamrasnaradura Infectious Diseases Institute hospital in Bangkok. The food was prepared at SSP’s Burger King outlet, including burgers, fries, and drinks, and local Thai rice dishes from its Yentafo restaurant, both at Don Mueang Airport.

The SSP Thailand team pictured with doctors and nurses from the Bamrasnaradura Infectious Diseases Institute hospital in Bangkok during one of their visits to donate food and drink

Bamrasnaradura Infectious Diseases Institute is a specialised hospital for patients infected with highly contagious diseases and used to control the outbreak of the diseases. The hospital is currently under great strain dealing with a significant number of positive COVID-19 patients.

SSP Managing Director – South East Asia Shane Beyer gave this glowing praise for the SSP Thailand team to the Moodie Davitt Report: “The fact that the team volunteered to work in-store preparing the meals, then to donate the food to the hospital is truly inspirational.

SSP Managing Director – South East Asia Shane Beyer (top right) recently visited the SSP Thailand team at Don Mueang International Airport and saw the volunteers’ benevolent work at first hand

“Not only did they donate their time, but the team, at all management and staff levels, insisted on donating any money they could spare to the hospital to aid in the procurement of new medical equipment.

“Due to the large number of volunteers, we decided to schedule this over multiple times, with additional days scheduled in the future.”

During a visit to see his team at Don Mueang Airport, Shane himself spent several hours in the Burger King kitchen wrapping burgers and fries in preparation for the delivery. He then went with his team to the hospital to help deliver the food donations.

The donated food was prepared at SSP’s Burger King and Yentafo restaurants at Don Mueang Airport

Shane said: “A 17-year association with McDonald’s across multiple countries aided me in wrapping burgers, although to be honest I probably got in the way more than I helped, however the staff did have a good laugh at my expense!”

SSP Thailand operates as a joint venture partner with Minor International across eight airports in Thailand, in an association that spans 25 years.

Travel Retail Superstars 10: Lotte Travel Retail Singapore team

Lotte Travel Retail Singapore, a division of South Korea’s industry leader Lotte Duty Free, has taken to social media to give a shout out to what it describes as its “warriors” on the front line.

It said on LinkedIn: “Thank you for your relentless support and perseverance during this tough time. We know it is not easy, but together as one, we will be able to come out stronger!”

Lotte Travel Retail Singapore operates 19 stores across four terminals at Singapore Changi Airport.

28 May

Travel Retail Superstars 9: Luggage-Point Glasgow Airport team

Its operations may have been closed down at Glasgow International Airport since 22 December last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the show still goes on for the team at airport retailer and service provider Luggage-Point and its customers.

Luggage-Point holds a contract at Glasgow to deliver services including left luggage, bag wrapping and luggage weighing, as well as operating a luggage store at the airport.

The company’s Retail & Services Director, Graeme Stewart, has drawn our attention to two unsung heroes from his team – Glasgow Airport Manager Fraser Meldrum and Business Manager Julie Fenwick – who came to the rescue of a passenger who had been separated from her laptop at the airport during March.

Star performers: Glasgow Airport Manager Fraser Meldrum (left) and Business Manager Julie Fenwick

We’ll let the customer, Victoria, tell the story via her Trustpilot review, which reads as follows: “I travelled through Glasgow Airport and security removed my laptop to another container without telling me. I was furious when I tried to contact the airport – I was told to contact Luggage-Point. When I tried them I was told they were shut because of the pandemic. So, no way to get my laptop back. I left a voicemail and email not expecting a response.

“Let’s be honest a lot of companies have used the pandemic as an excuse for poor customer service. Well, I was wrong! The next day I got a call from Julie apologising that they were shut but she had a colleague who lived local to the airport and would go there and speak to security. In short, I got my laptop back the next day!

“Julie put me on to Fraser who picked up my laptop and bless him – this is the bit I love – said he would leave it with his mum as she was an old lady and unlikely to go out so I could book a courier.

“Fraser also packaged my laptop like a demon – completely professional these two. They gave me their personal numbers and got the job done. You wouldn’t get this service at normal times but these guys went so far above what I expected.”

Luggage-Point reopens for business at Glasgow Airport, operating on reduced hours, next week.

24 May

Travel Retail Superstars 8: Bahrain Duty Free team

The management of Bahrain Duty Free (BDF) have presented their whole staff with an appreciation award for their “outstanding contribution” to the opening of BDF’s new retail stores, in the new terminal at Bahrain International Airport.

In a post on LinkedIn, the company said these glowing words about its team: “The company has reached such heights due to their hard work and dedication. Our team made an exemplary contribution to the company.

“Thank you, Bahrain Duty Free staff for being an inspiration for us with utmost professionalism and dedication on this journey. Your work ethic and passion is an inspiration to all of us. Thank you for being in our family.”

Read our full story here.

22 May

Travel Retail Superstars 7: Cesar Dias, Shift Leader, HMSHost Netherlands

HMSHost Netherlands has given a shout out on social media this week to loyal and highly-regarded Shift Leader Cesar Dias (pictured below). Based at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, Cesar has just completed 25 years of service with the global travel restaurateur.

He began working for HMSHost at Schiphol in a logistics role as a 23-year-old. Paying tribute to him, the company said: “Cesar Dias, who doesn’t know him? Tomorrow he will be a recognisable face at Schiphol for 25 years and we are so happy to have him in our team!

“Thanks in part to Cesar, everything runs smoothly at Schiphol and the daily incoming goods are taken care of. Congratulations on this milestone and we hope he is with the HMSHost team for many more years.”

21 May

Travel Retail Superstars 6: MSC Virtuosa retail team

MSC Cruises Head of Retail Adrian Pittaway has taken to LinkedIn to praise the team responsible for getting 11 new onboard shops up and running ahead of MSC Virtuosa’s maiden voyage yesterday.

He said: “Opening 11 brand new shops on a brand new cruise ship, safely in a pandemic is truly not an easy task. So today, as we sail proudly as the first cruise retail team back in the UK, I would like to pay tribute to the amazing effort of our MSC Virtuosa retail team for a truly fantastic job in getting the ship prepared and all the shops looking fantastic.

“Amazing job team! From all of the MSC retail family around the world, you carry our pride and recognition!”

See the names of MSC staff thanked by Adrian in the LinkedIn post below.

Read more about MSC Virtuosa’s maiden voyage from Southampton, UK and its retail offer in our story here.

Travel Retail Superstars 5: Lagardère Travel Retail New Zealand teams

In a LinkedIn post, Lagardère Travel Retail Asia Pacific CEO Przemyslaw Lesniak said he has had a “fantastic week” visiting his New Zealand teams for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic struck.

He visited a number of Lagardère operations across the country and paid this glowing tribute to the front line and back of house teams: “So many of these fantastic people stuck by us through our worst times last year, and it is a true joy to see many of them back in action in our stores again as we continue to ramp back up thanks to the Trans-Tasman bubble.

“Big thank you to our Auckland office and warehouse teams and store teams from Wellington, Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin, Queenstown and Nelson for your warm greetings and all your efforts to keep us going. We are so proud of you Team!”

Lagardère Travel Retail Asia Pacific CEO Przemyslaw Lesniak (fifth from left) is pictured with a front line team from Aelia Duty Free during his New Zealand visit

20 May

Travel Retail Superstars 4: Kim Holden, Wendy’s, Tampa International Airport

Kim Holden, a front line worker at Wendy’s, has been recognised by Tampa International Airport for her outstanding customer service at the popular restaurant.

The Florida airport said this of Kim: “If you’ve visited Wendy’s at TPA, you’ve probably seen Kim Holden, one of TPA’s MVP employees who’s always smiling and full of personality. She has left a lasting impression on thousands of travellers and employees and says her customers are the best part of her job.”

Of her role, Kim (pictured below) said: “I have my regular customers. It makes them smile when I remember their name, and they really love it when I remember their order. It makes them feel special and it makes me so happy knowing that I made someone’s day.”

Travel Retail Superstars 3: DFS Group team

A team of volunteers from DFS Group has been lending a helping hand in packing and delivering food and hygiene care packages for the elderly in Hong Hong. The volunteers were taking part in HandsOn Hong Kong’s #ServathonHK, which supports the city’s most vulnerable populations.

The stated aim of charity HandsOn Hong Kong is to empower everyone in Hong Kong to become volunteers and staff from the travel retailer were happy to answer the call.

Travel Retail Superstars 2: Daniel Webb, DFS Group

Daniel Webb plays a key role at DFS Group as Senior Manager: Customer Experience & Strategy. He has just celebrated five years with a superb retailer that puts customer experience at the heart of everything it does. Click here to read his full LinkedIn post.

Travel Retail Superstars 1: Ethos Farm team

Teamwork as well as individual commitment and talent is crucial to the success of any travel retail stakeholder. The fantastic men and women of Ethos Farm in the UK scored high for exactly that at the UK Employee Experience Awards 2021 earlier this month, snapping up the Gold Award for Team of the Year. Click on Founder & CEO Sally Allington’s LinkedIn entry to discover more.

About the Travel Retail Superstars Awards & Knowledge Programme

The programme places the spotlight on the thousands of frontline and behind the scenes heroes and heroines who have helped keep a stricken sector going throughout the pandemic.

It will culminate in an awards ceremony and a people-centric Knowledge Hub programme focused on the vital role of staff at the Virtual Travel Retail Experience this October. That event is hosted by The Moodie Davitt Report with support from digital, design and communications agency FILTR.Qingwa.

The Travel Retail Superstars Awards & Knowledge Programme will embrace the long-established FAB Heroes platform for the travel-related food & beverage sector, while also taking in airport, airline, downtown store and cruise employees as well as others across the travel ecosytem (more details soon).

The Moodie Davitt Report is working with an advisory committee of human resource and training specialists to shape the awards and programme.

They include Marcus Griffin, Global Director of People & Culture at Flash Global in the US and from 2012 until 2020 Senior Vice President – Human resources at Dufry; and Heidi van Roon, President & Founder of the Spark Group of Companies in Canada, which provides a range of recruitment and staffing services for luxury & airport retailers and brands; and others from multiple geographies.

The Moodie Davitt Report was inspired by the Aer Rianta International (ARI) 2020 Star Awards, an initiative which recognised that the company’s people are its greatest asset. The global recognition programme this year culminated in a virtual ceremony that recognised and celebrated the tremendous contribution of team members across the globe. Global Star Award Winner 2020 was Francis Uttam Chari Eknath (left), Retail Sales Manager at Muscat Duty Free (Oman Sales & Services LLC). Runners up were Julie Ann Basco (centre), a Merchandiser from Bahrain Duty Free and Svetlana Apostolidou (right), Bacardi Ambassador with Cyprus Airports Duty Free. 

Taking the lead: Qatar Duty Free team members have maintained healthy and safe trading environments while managing some of the most eye-catching and high-profile promotions in the industry amid the pandemic

Note: For more information about the Travel Retail Superstars Awards & Knowledge Programme and/or the Virtual Travel Retail Expo 2021, please contact Irene Revilla, Publisher, The Moodie Davitt Report ( or Sarah Genest, Vice President Sales & Events (

FAB Heroes: Tastes on the Fly’s Antonio Alicea was named FAB Team Member of the Year at the 2019 Airport Food & Beverage (FAB) Awards in Dallas in 2019. The FAB recognition will be built into the Travel Retail Superstars Awards & Knowledge Programme.