New Leadership Team At Dufry Will Shape $6.7 Billion Merged Entity With Autogrill

New Leadership Team At Dufry Will Shape $6.7 Billion Merged Entity With Autogrill

Dufry, the world’s biggest airport retailer, has shaken up its global executive committee (GEC), as the company prepares its growth strategy for the merged business with Autogrill, the global travel food business based in Italy. The deal was originally announced last summer.

The new organizational structure for the combined group, led by Dufry CEO Xavier Rossinyol and CFO
Yves Gerster, consists of a 10-strong team. The revamp reintroduces regional heads, with four posts overseeing Asia Pacific; North America; Europe, Middle East and Africa; and Latin America (the latter two regions currently run by the same person).

A new role of chief digital and customer officer—critical to Dufry’s growth plans—will be filled on March 1 by Vijay Talwar a Footlocker veteran of five years at the regional CEO level. He left the shoe retailer in January 2022. The remaining posts cover legal, public affairs/ESG, and people and culture (the names and bios can be found here).

While Dufry executives hold sway, taking the vast majority of the posts, there have been some high-profile departures. Former CEO of operations Eugenio Andrades leaves the GEC “due to personal reasons” but will continue in the company; former chief commercial officer Andrea Belardini exits “to pursue new challenges”; and chief diversity and inclusion officer, Sarah Branquinho is retiring but will remain active across several associations that campaign for the travel retail channel such as the Duty Free World Council where she is president.

A big task ahead

The new top team will now drive Dufry’s long-term strategy called Destination 2027 which Dufry CEO Xavier Rossinyol explained in detail at a capital markets day held last September in London, U.K. Destination 2027 rests on four pillars: improving the travel experience using digitalization to drive customer engagement; a focus on geographical diversification to tap into faster-growing markets and hedge against regional shocks or economic cycles; making operations more efficient to drive profitability; and a new focus on ESG as an overlay across the other three pillars.

In a statement about the new setup, Rossinyol commented: “Together we aim to shape the future of our joint company and our industry. The new team reflects the competencies and experience we need for each new priority and each geographical focus area.”

The last time Dufry merged businesses on this scale was when it acquired the travel retail companies Nuance in 2014 and World Duty Free in 2015 in rapid succession. Those integrations proved lengthy and cumbersome but took the Swiss company into a clear leadership position in airport retailing.

So far the Autogrill purchase has proceeded smoothly. Regulatory approvals for the deal came in early January paving the way for Dufry to take the 50.3% stake in Autogrill held by Edizione, an investment arm of Italy’s powerful billionaire Benetton family. The transaction was subsequently closed on Friday last week.

On the same day, and in coordination, Autogrill’s long-time CEO Gianmario Tondato Da Ruos resigned after a 20-year stint and was replaced by Paolo Roverato who has been an investment director at Edizione since April 2002.

Autogrill has a big global footprint with just over 800 retail locations in about 30 countries on four continents, and operates about 2,800 points of sale. It is present in 139 airports.

By comparison, Dufry operates more than 2,300 stores in about 420 locations, chiefly across three continents (Asia Pacific has been a challenge and the retailer also just lost its Melbourne Airport concession). However, based on 2021 turnover, Dufry is in pole position, generating over €3.9 billion while Autogrill was just shy of €2.6 billion.

Autogrill will publish its FY22 results next week on February 15, and Dufry will publish its full-year results on March 7.


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