In a deal aimed at unleashing a “crowd of innovation”, the world’s largest operator of travel-related retail stores is combining with the leading airport food and beverage and rest stop company to create a $13 billion behemoth with 5,500 locations in 75 countries.
Announcing the tie-up of Switzerland-based Dufry – which owns Hudson, World Duty Free and dozens of other brands – with Italy’s Autogrill, whose portfolio of over 300 global and local restaurant names fills food courts and airports around the world , the two companies said the expanded group will redefine the industry and enrich the passenger journey through experience and innovation.
“By implementing this unique opportunity, we will accelerate growth by fully focusing on consumers and the digital revolution,” Dufry CEO Xavier Rossinyol said in the press release, noting the added value for airport owners and partners that the portfolio expanded services would bring. as well as a pending new corporate identity that reflects it.
“With a culture of prioritizing customer service, while relentlessly driving operational efficiency and actively managing our concession portfolio, we will be able to drive growth and innovation as well as profitability,” Rossinyol said of the growing empire of travel retail that is projected to serve 2.3 billion passengers at 1,200 airports and other locations.
Airport time, Travel are up
The news comes at a time of unprecedented flight delays and extended pre-boarding and check-in procedures, which have travelers spending more time at airports than ever, whether they planned to or not. At the same time, the airline industry itself is also experiencing a revival in demand after two years of COVID-related cutbacks and canceled plans.
While no specifics were given, the companies said that the creation of an integrated global player that caters exclusively to improving the travel experience would not only be transformative but would provide a complementary strategic fit between the two firms.
At the same time, the combination of Dufry and Autogrill is expected to deliver compelling cost synergies, including the optimization of reduced costs related to F&B and convenience items in the US, followed by improved efficiencies in support functions and other expenses. reduced operational business.
“Synergies are planned to be fully realized in the first two years after the transaction,” the company’s statement said. “The combination brings together two groups of highly experienced and highly engaged professionals with complementary skill sets.”
Mobile Customers, Mobile Commerce
Certainly, the commercialization of airports and roadside rest areas has grown and changed over the years, as more locations offer a multi-brand approach that offers a mix of retail categories ranging from premium coffee and cuisine diversified to more apparel, electronics and personal care products targeting on-the-go customers.
While Dufry and Autogrill certainly have unique exposure to this retail niche, this trend of increased convenience, selection and speed has also caught the eye of other retail innovators, including Amazon, which is already in partnered with Hudson to test its Just Walk Out contactless payment technology. .
“We have equipped more than a dozen third-party locations in the US and UK with Just Walk Out technology, Amazon One, or a combination of the two,” said Amazon’s Vice President of Retail and Physical Technology , Dilip Kumar in a blog post last month in which he outlined the future expansion, use cases and cost reduction of new contactless systems.
“Sporting venues, such as the Climate Pledge Arena and TD Garden, and travel retailers, such as Hudson and WHSmith, have enabled their stores with our technologies to make the shopping experience more enjoyable and efficient for their shoppers,” added Kumar, while vowing to push the boundaries. of AI to help tackle complex challenges in the physical world of retail.
While no one wants to spend more time in airports than necessary, Dufry and Autogrill are determined to make the experience as pleasant as possible.
“A new cycle opens that will allow us to roll out a variety of options centered around the needs of travelers around the world,” said Gianmario Tondato da Ruos, Autogrill CEO. “The business combination will enable a host of innovations in its offerings, which will translate into more enjoyable travel experiences across geographies and channels,” he added.