Lagardère Travel Retail has revealed how it has strived to implement a European operational style across its African businesses in Senegal and Gabon.
These two operations were recently complemented by a downtown diplomatic duty free store in Nairobi, Kenya following the acquisition of Belgian travel retailer International Duty Free.
The French travel retailer has been operating at Blaise Diagne International Airport in Senegal since the airport opened in December 2017, having secured a 10-year contract to run a 1,000sq m duty free store and 100sq m Relay outlet.
Lagardère is also present at Libreville Leon Mba international Airport in Gabon, after signing a service agreement with GSEZ Airport, a subsidiary of Gabon Special Economic Zone (a private partnership between Olam International, the Gabonese Republic and Africa Finance Corporation) in December 2018. It currently operates over 600sq m of retail and food and beverage space. Operations started in April 2019.
Frédéric Chevalier, Chief Operating Officer for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Lagardère Travel Retail told TRBusiness at the recent TFWA World Exhibition in Cannes: “Africa is definitely a challenging environment, which is no surprise to anyone.
“We are pretty happy with how things have gone. Our intention from the outset was to implement a European style of operations. The mission I gave the team in Senegal was to operate with European standouts. This was also the promise we made to the airport.”
Chevalier, who emphasised the retailer does not do things exactly the same way in Africa as it does in Europe added: “We adapt the business, range and offer to suit the tastes of African customers. Our operating standout in Africa is quite good. It obviously takes time to reach the desired level of standout in a country or region where everything is a little more difficult.”
Referring directly to the retailer’s Gabonese operations, Chevalier said: “In Gabon, we opened earlier this year in different phases. The last phase was in September when we opened a restaurant. We now operate three businesses in Gabon, not only in duty free and travel essentials but food as well.
“The overall Gabonese business is performing well. We are very comfortable with what we are doing there.”
Pressed by TRBusiness on whether further African expansion is on the horizon, Chevalier remarked: “The agenda of Lagardère Travel Retail in general is profitable expansion. There are two key words in this expression. We would consider any expansion programme or project in Africa or elsewhere, but it has to be a profitable development.
“Maybe we are a little more cautious in Africa compared to elsewhere, but we still look at African opportunities in the same way as others in Europe or anywhere else.”
See the November print edition of TRBusiness for more on Lagardère’s African operations.