Welcome to In Crisis – Travel Retail Voices, our podcast series in which we speak to industry executives around the world to see how they and their businesses are coping with the COVID-19 crisis.

In today’s episode we meet Caroline South, Founder and CEO of Caroline South Associates – a UK company founded in 1991 with a mission to “nurture and develop” premium beauty brands in travel retail. It’s a classic entrepreneur’s tale, a business that began with Caroline working out of her bedroom where office furniture was limited to an Amstrad computer on a garden table-desk. [Click here for our interview, The Passion and Professionalism of Caroline South, conducted last year].

Nearly 30 years on and Caroline South Associates is a best-in-class perfume and cosmetics agency which represents 20 fragrance, skincare and cosmetic brands and claims a 10% share of beauty within Heathrow and in other airport, ferry and ferry terminal stores throughout the UK and Ireland. All that, of course, before COVID 19 came along.

If anyone though could deal with a crisis on this scale it is Caroline. Not only is she a natural-born entrepreneur but she’s also no stranger to crisis, having traded through Gulf Wars, financial crises, 9/11. SARS, volcano clouds, you name it. She has also beaten the beast that is cancer. In part one of a fascinating two-part podcast, Caroline told Martin Moodie how she and her company responded as the extent of the crisis became clear.

Caroline South (foreground) with members of her team (from left) Sarah Ford, Ruth Skinns, Laura Bennett, and Myrthes de Freitas Segalla

A flashback to 1991 and Caroline South starts a long partnership with Escada. She is pictured here to the right of former Escada Beauté Americas Chief Operating Officer Nicholas Ratut


In 2016, Caroline introduced her Retail Academy, which offers comprehensive training for beauty consultants. The academy combines personal training with an innovative app which can be used by brands and Caroline South Associates staff.

Previously on In Crisis – Travel Retail Voices

May 20: Frederik Westelinck, Blue Storks

May 14: Christine Keeling, Long Haul Spa

May 12: Kevin Chiang, Ever Rich Duty Free

May 2: Robbie GillThe Design Solution

May 2: Michael Ripfl, Umdasch, The Store Makers

April 29: Heidi van Roon, Spark Business Services Group

April 25: Rüdiger Behn, Waldemar Behn

April 23: James Prescott, Harding Retail

April 22: Eugene Barry, Dubai Airports

April 21: Lal Arakulath, Kreol Group

April 21: Scott Collier, Toronto Pearson International Airport

April 20: Lisa Bauer, Starboard Cruise Services

April 17: Dan Cappell, Ontario International Airport

April 13: Gautom Menon, Wild Tiger Beverages

April 13: Sarah Branquinho, Duty Free World Council

April 10: Sinead el Sibai, Dubai Duty Free

April 7: Jonathan Holland of Jonathan Holland & Associates, Singapore.

April 7: Rob Wigington, Executive Director at the Airport Restaurant & Retail Association, US.

April 7: José Luis Donagaray and Inés Sisto Patron, ASUTIL

April 5:  Stewart Dryburgh, Nestlé International Travel Retail,

April 4: Pier Giuseppe Torresani, Masi; and Steve Corrigan, long-time duty free drinks executive

April 2: Founder of Duty Free Global, Barry Geoghegan

April 1: Vice President of Miami-based Essence Corp, Patricia Bona.

29 March: William Grant & Sons President Asia Pacific Doug Bagley

29 March: PMA Canada National Director – Duty Free Jeff Orson

27 March: Paul & Shark Global Travel Retail Director Catherine Bonelli

26 March: King Power Traveler President Rakhita Jayawardena

25 March: Public health expert Dr. David Heymann

24 March: King Power Group (Hong Kong) Group Chief Executive Officer Sunil Tuli

22 March: The Moodie Davitt Report Founder & Chairman Martin Moodie

21 March: China Duty Free Group President Charles Chen

20 March: Dubai Duty Free Executive Vice Chairman & CEO Colm McLoughlin