The Travel Retail and F&B Superstars Column 2022

INTERNATIONAL. The Moodie Davitt Report is back with the second year of our popular column dedicated to recognising people in our industry – frontline, back office, logistics, management and more – for their commitment and achievements against the tough backdrop of COVID-19 pandemic challenges.

The Travel Retail and F&B Superstars column is a key component in the lead up to this year’s Travel Retail Superstars Awards and FAB Superstars Awards, which will be staged on 13 September. Click on the links above for more information.

See the 2021 winners of these two awards programmes in the videos at the foot of this column.

If you’d like to nominate a team member, or team, for inclusion in this year’s column, please email Mark Lane at or Martin Moodie at

17 June

Travel Retail/F&B Superstars  20 – Heathrow Food & Beverage and Essentials team

Stephanie Pears, Heathrow Airport’s Head of Category – F&B, Essentials, Services, VIP, Technology and FX has been in touch with the Superstars column to share some high praise for the retail staff who have played a big part in the successful reopening of Terminal 4.

She told us: “At the beginning of the 2022, the UK was back in the grip of the COVID pandemic due to Omicron, the latest variant of concern. Fast forward six months and Heathrow has had its highest passenger numbers since March 2020 and we have reopened Terminal 4.

Members of the Heathrow Food & Beverage and Essentials team outside Caffè Nero in T4 on the morning of reopening

“To ensure this was a successful reopening, the Heathrow Food & Beverage and Essentials team worked tirelessly to ensure we had the most complete and quality offer as possible.

“Through working closely with our partners, T4 was taken from a mothballed terminal to one fit to serve passengers in around three months.

“In addition, the team have continued to manage our other three other terminals to ensure a unparalleled airport retail offer. I am immensely proud of the team.”

27 May

Travel Retail/F&B Superstars 19 – Cathy Simoni, Fraport USA

Cathy Simoni, Fraport USA Director of Corporate Marketing, has just clocked up 30 years of service with her employer, the developer and manager of retail and food & beverage concessions programmes at six US airports.

She has been in her current company-wide position for just over three years, but Cathy (pictured below) is perhaps best known for her time performing senior roles across nearly 27 years at the award-winning Airmall at Pittsburgh International Airport.

Airmall Pittsburgh’s 87,000sq ft retail concession programme has been a leader in the industry for sales per enplaned passenger, consistently ranking in the top tier of US airports.

Cathy’s many responsibilities for Airmall included managing and directing retail operations, leasing and marketing.

Recognising her contribution in a LinkedIn post, Fraport USA CEO Michael Mullaney said: “I am honoured to celebrate Cathy Simoni and her 30th anniversary with Fraport USA. Join me in congratulating her on this amazing milestone and to her countless achievements in shaping the success and leadership of our group.”

27 May

Travel Retail/F&B Superstars 18 – Frank Mcala, JFK Airport Plazas

Edwinpaul Reyes, Vice President of Operations at JFK Airport Plazas, has taken to LinkedIn to highlight the 60th birthday of Frank Mcala (pictured below). He believes Frank deserves recognition for his consistent hard work among the utility staff at John F. Kennedy International Airport.

Edwinpaul said: “Frank the ever loyal and hardworking utility staff who keeps the JFK Airport Travel Plaza clean for almost ten years now celebrates his 60th birthday today. Happy Birthday Frank!”

17 May

Travel Retail/F&B Superstars 17 – Angela Antoniou, Cyprus Duty Free

Cyprus Duty Free, run by Aer Rianta International (ARI), has given a shout out to its hard-working colleague Angela Antoniou (below) for being voted Star Employee for March and Q1 2022.

A note from the travel retailer said: “Enjoy this very well deserved recognition Angela, and know that we are all very pleased and proud to have you on our team.”

ARI Retail & Marketing Manager Toni MacDonald gave her compliments in a LinkedIn post: “Congratulations Angela, a true superstar!”

13 April

Travel Retail/F&B Superstars 16 – Josephine Chua, Assistant Kitchen Supervisor, Plaza Premium Lounge

The occasion of the 60th birthday of Josephine Chua, Assistant Kitchen Supervisor for Plaza Premium Lounge at Toronto Pearson Airport, came to the attention of the Superstars column via a post on LinkedIn from the lounge’s Operations Manager, Rama Krishna Shikaram.

“Thank you for inspiring us with your smile and hard work,” he posted.

We contacted Rama to find out more about Josephine (pictured below), and he had these glowing words of praise: “Josephine Chua started to work in the Plaza Premium lounge at Toronto Pearson Airport – she was hired as a Lounge Assistant (entry-level) in May 2011. With her passion, hard work, and excellent performance, she was promoted to Cook in 2014.

“She continued to grow by going above and beyond by delivering a world-class passenger experience, which earned a leadership position for her as Assistant Kitchen Supervisor in 2016.

“As a leader, she continues to inspire with her smile, leading by example; as a servant leader, she has been critical support to lounge operations for more than a decade. She possesses extraordinary multi-tasking abilities and is a specialist in setting and opening new lounges.”

It is great to hear of employees being recognised in this way. Well done Josephine and happy birthday!

Via the video in the LinkedIn post below, you can watch a dance by Josephine to celebrate her 60th birthday, in the company of her Plaza Premium Lounge colleagues.

13 April

Travel Retail/F&B Superstars 15 – Paradies Lagardère staff, Palm Beach International Airport

Lagardère Travel Retail Chairman & CEO Dag Inge Rasmussen and Chief Talent & Organisation Officer/Regional COO Americas Jean-Baptiste Morin recently joined Paradies Lagardère COO Nikki Harland and Senior VP Operations Jeff Flowers on a visit to Palm Beach International Airport to chat with Paradies Lagardère store staff.

Flying visit: Dag Inge Rasmussen (left) and Jean-Baptiste Morin (far right) with Paradies Lagardère staff at Palm Beach International Airport

The four have been attending the IAADFS-organised Summit of the Americas in Palm Beach this week. See our coverage of the event here.

Paradies Lagardère staff member Alia (left) with Nikki Harland and Jean-Baptiste Morin

Writing in a post on linkedIn, Jean-Baptiste had this high praise for the Paradies Lagardère airport team: “Great stores, merchandising and operations. Ready to embark new ideas and systems to support quality and efficiency. Above all, great teams. Congratulations to Bob Nicholas [the Palm Beach-based Paradies Lagardère General Manager] for his work and to all the team!”

11 April

Travel Retail/F&B Superstars 14 – Gatwick Ground Services team, British Airways Lounge

Mark Gower, Managing Director of Gatwick Ground Services, has hailed the work of his colleagues in reopening the British Airways (BA) Lounge in the once again operational South Terminal at Gatwick Airport.

He praised hospitality food service provider BaxterStorey and the BA Customer/Lounge team (pictured above) for getting things back up and running. Mark said: “Proud of you guys. Great representation of Gatwick Ground Services.”

1 April

Travel Retail/F&B Superstars 13 – Plaza Premium team

How about this for a tribute from your employer? In a post on LinkedIn, Plaza Premium Group has given a big shout out to its frontline workers. It paid tribute to staff who kept operations going during the difficult circumstances of the pandemic period across its worldwide network of airport lounges.

The company said: “Thank you to people who stuck with us when it got really hard. Thank you to those who brought creativity and innovative thinking. Thank you to individuals and teams who dug in, when it was easier to give up. Thank you to our frontline workers who wore PPE, and bravely faced uncertainty. Thank you.”

Great to see employees recognised in this way.



21 March

Travel Retail/F&B Superstars 13 – Anjuman Shanta and Ireen Siddiqua, Managers at Shake Shack, New York LaGuardia Airport

Jean Urbina, F&B Multi Operations Manager at HMSHost, has taken to LinkedIn to offer some high praise to two of the team at New York LaGuardia Airport’s Shake Shack. Anjuman Shanta and Ireen Siddiqua have recently been rewarded with promotions to management level to recognise the impact they have had since the successful HMSHost-operated fast food restaurant opened.

Left to right: Ireen Siddiqua, HMSHost Operations Director Jim Daino, Anjuman Shanta and Jean Urbina

Jean said: “This is the part that I enjoy the most about my job! We recently promoted these two awesome ladies that have been part of our team since day one and have been big part of our success here at LGA Shake Shack.

“I’m very proud of Anjuman Shanta and Ireen Siddiqua for their hard work, great work ethic, commitment and passion for their job and I know they will succeed in their new positions. Thank you ladies for all you do each and every day!”

16 March

Travel Retail/F&B Superstars 12 – Heinemann Americas retail team

Nice shout out on LinkedIn from Heinemann Americas Senior Project Manager Latifa Shorter for the company’s shoreside and shipboard teams, who have worked very hard to launch the Royal Shops onboard Royal Caribbean’s Wonder of the Seas, the world’s largest cruise ship.

Latifa said: “So very proud of our amazing Heinemann shoreside and shipboard teams, some pictured here [see image below] and a great many not pictured, who launched the Royal Shops onboard Wonder of the Seas.

“Originally planned for sailing in Asia, the shops were redesigned, product assortment reworked, staffing, logistics and operations replanned in record time for a successful launch.”

Wonder of the Seas (pictured below) is currently on her maiden voyage in the Caribbean.

9 March

Travel Retail/F&B Superstars 11 – SSP Austria team

SSP Austria Operations Manager Peter Wagner has taken to social media to praise on his team (pictured below) for the work it performed to get Jamie’s Italian back up and running at Vienna International Airport. The restaurant had been closed for a long period due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a post on LinkedIn he said: “I’m proud of the team for another successful ramp-up!”

Travel Retail/F&B Superstars 10 – Carol Taylor and Celines Ortiz, Marketplace PHL

MarketPlace PHL Concourse Supervisors Carol Taylor and Celines Ortiz have been recognised in the ‘Teamwork Makes the Dream Work’ category in the second round of Philadelphia International Airport’s (PHL) Employee Recognition Program. The distinction acknowledges employees who create a positive experience for guests through service and delivery while collaborating with other organisations.

Proudly holding their certificates are Carol Taylor (left) and Celines Ortiz

As concourse supervisors, Carol and Celines manage a team of more than ten concourse coordinators responsible for waste removal of all the food court and merchant spaces that are part of the PHL Food & Shops programme throughout the airport.

They also prepare purchase orders, manage concourse coordinators’ schedules and assist them with removing waste and sanitising tables when short-staffed.

Travel Retail/F&B Superstars 9 – Bahrain Duty Free team

Good work by the team at Bahrain Duty Free. The travel retailer has contributed to supporting the national afforestation campaign ‘Forever Green’, launched by the National Initiative for Agricultural Development in partnership with several relevant institutions.

As part of its CSR programme, the Bahrain Duty Free team turned out in force to support the Forever Green campaign 

The campaign aims to plant over 50,000 trees in 27 sites in different governorates, on an area covering more than 70,000sq m and expands the green area in Bahrain to protect the environment and to reduce the climate change effects.

3 March

Travel Retail/F&B Superstars 8 – Retail team, Viking Line

What an achievement by the retail team aboard the new Viking Line ship, Viking Glory. In just three weeks, with the help of contractors, an empty space was turned into a spectacular new retail haven. The store welcomed its first customers yesterday.

Mats Kotka, Head of Retail Operations, Onboard and Online (Tax Free & Duty Paid) at Viking Line, paid this tribute to his team on LinkedIn: “So impressed by what was achieved in three weeks on our new Viking Glory. We started with an empty space and today we invited our first customers on board!

Fast workers: The Viking Glory retail team helped turn an empty space on board the new ship into a great retail venue in just three weeks

“Big thanks to the a-team and to the whole team spirit that was felt on Viking Glory during the final build-up. The team did a superb job in a very short time during the tight build up phase displaying and stocking approximately 25,000 different articles for our passengers.”

Finnish shipping company Viking Line operates a fleet of ferries and cruise ships between Finland, the Åland Islands, Sweden and Estonia.

25 February

Travel Retail/F&B Superstars 7 – Melbourne Airport teams

Melbourne Airport has saluted its front-line staff who are back servicing travellers now that international flight services have returned.

The airport company said: “Prior to the pandemic, we had around 20,000 full time employees working on the airport estate each day, making it one of the state’s largest employment precincts. We are excited to have thousands of retail, hospitality, and airline staff back at the airport as travel is beginning to return to normal.”

See the video for highlights, including comment from Chief of Commercial – Property & Retail Andrew Gardiner.

22 February

Travel Retail/F&B Superstars 6 – Eduardo Bernal, Areas, Barcelona El Prat Airport

Areas Iberia has singled out a member of its food & beverage team at Barcelona El Prat Airport, Eduardo Bernal, for special praise.

In a LinkedIn post, the company said of Eduardo: “Thank you very much for your effort, commitment and passion for a job well done. With your example, Areas has a great future ahead of it!”

Travel Retail/F&B Superstars 5 – Olga Rojas and the PSP Coffee House team, Palm Springs International Airport

Paradies Lagardère CEO Gregg Paradies recently gave a shout out to “great team members” at the PSP Coffee House and other Paradies Lagardère-operated F&B and retail outlets inside Palm Springs International Airport.

Gregg was passing through the Californian airport during a visit to the Airports International Council – North America CEO Forum.

In a LinkedIn post, he said: “It was wonderful to see their smiling faces at 5:30 this morning as I enjoyed a much-needed double espresso at our PSP Coffee House!

“Also, congratulations to Olga Rojas [pictured with Gregg below], who next month will celebrate her 18th year with the company. Amazing!”

Travel Retail/F&B Superstars 4 – HMSHost team, Memphis International Airport

HMSHost Senior Director, Business Development Tosin Kasali has dished out some high praise to his hard-working team at Memphis International Airport.

He was talking in the context of four food & beverage openings in the airport’s newly-modernised Concourse B, including new outlets opened in partnership with the Memphis Grizzlies basketball club, Memphis Made Brewing Co., Starbucks and Lennys Grill & Subs.

Tosin Kasali (right), pictured with Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority President and Chief Executive Officer Scott Brockman, who he described as an “exemplary leader”. The new bar and restaurant opened with the Memphis Grizzlies appears below.

In a post on LinkedIn, Tosin said: “Together, we set a path many months ago (in the eye of the storm!) and assembled a steadfast team of amazing brands and ACDBE partners that believed in the vision for the airport, and that zeal propelled us to the finish line. Everything looks beautiful!

“To my HMSHost team, thank you for each of your contributions. Let’s continue to raise the bar and take very good care of the passengers at MEM!”

Travel Retail/F&B Superstars 3 – Basudev Sapkota, Lagardère Travel Retail

Lagardère Travel Retail recently marked five years of excellent service by its KSA [Kingdom of Saudi Arabia] Compliance Officer Basudev Sapkota with a special ceremony (Basudev is pictured third from left in the image below).

He is currently representing Lagardère Travel Retail with Saudi French Company for Duty Free Operations & Management (SFC), the joint venture company operating travel retail stores within Saudi Arabian airports.

Travel Retail/F&B Superstars 2 – Bahrain Duty Free team

Members of the Bahrain Duty Free team turned out in force earlier this month to collaborate with the Clean Up Bahrain campaign.

The volunteering event forms a part of Bahrain Duty Free’s ESG initiatives, and took place at Asker Beach, located in Askar, in the Southern Governorate of Bahrain.

Travel Retail/F&B Superstars 1 – Amado Rodriguez, SSP America

We kick off this year’s Superstars column with an inspiring video from SSP America, which has been made as part of its recruitment drive for staff to work in its F&B outlets across US airports, as travel industry recovery continues at a brisk pace.

Step forward, Amado Rodriguez (pictured above), currently representing SSP as Restaurant General Manager at Dane County Regional Airport. Watch the video below to hear the inspiring story of Amado’s rise with the company from humble beginnings as a dishwasher to his current role.

Meet last year’s winners of the inaugural Travel Retail Superstars Awards (see video above) and FAB Superstars Awards (see video below).

Great stakeholders in travel retail and F&B graced last year’s Superstars column including Areas, MSC Cruises, Victorinox, Bahrain Duty Free, Louis Vuitton, SSP, Puig, Paradies Lagardère, Cyprus Duty Free, Heathrow Airport, HMSHost, Lagardère Travel Retail, Munich Airport, Gebr. Heinemann, Lotte Duty Free, Luggage-Point, Wendy’s, DFS Group and Ethos Farm.

You can read all about the heroes that emerged from these, and other, businesses here.

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