Latest posts by Martin Moodie (see all)
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A few years back in this Blog I was gently critical of the duty free offer at EuroAirport Basel Mulhouse Freiburg, arguing that Dufry needed a better showcase in its hometown.
Much has changed since then and the store today, despite being shoe-horned into difficult space in an aging airport, is well-ranged, bright and easy to shop. There are plenty of retailer or airport exclusives and a decent regional (French and Swiss) offering.
I was in Basel for an informal catch-up with Dufry CEO Julián Díaz, one of the people I most admire in the travel retail business. It seems just the other day that I wrote a news story headlined ‘Advent names Julián Díaz new Dufry CEO as acquisition is completed’. In fact it was 16 years ago, on my birthday (1 March).
I recall chatting informally over a beer with Julián a few weeks later at the (sadly no more) Champions Bar at Orlando World Center Marriott during the Duty Free Show of the Americas as he outlined his plans to grow the company. In his own understated but determined and precise way, he was upbeat to the point of being bullish. But no-one, perhaps even him, could have envisioned just how much growth lay ahead.
Being a publicly listed company – one of the few pure play travel retailers to be so – means basking in those glories is a non-option. As the beat goes on, so does the heat. There is unrelenting market and shareholder pressure on Dufry to deliver growth. With so much sector consolidation behind it – and realistic, sizable targets thin on the ground – it’s going to be fascinating to watch what shape that growth takes in the coming years.