Lagardère boosts West Africa presence with Cotonou concession in Benin

By Kristiane Sherry |

Cotonou Airport Benin Lagardère TR

Lagardère Travel Retail has won a master concession to operate retail and F&B at Cotonou Airport Benin.

Lagardère Travel Retail has expanded its footprint across West Africa by signing an agreement with state-owned Société des Aéroports du Benin to operate the master concession at Cotonou International Airport.

Under the deal, Lagardère will manage the duty free, travel essentials and foodservice operations at the airport. 

Local activities will be managed through a joint venture with Keyla Distribution, a Beninese distribution and retail firm with business across West Africa.

Known as Lagardère Travel Retail Keyla, the JV will kick off the “long term” concession contract in 2024.

With the new Benin concession, Lagardère now has operations in five West African countries. The others are Senegal, Gabon, Mauritania, and Gambia.

Lagardère in Benin: long-standing expertise 

The commercial offer spans arrival and departure duty free stores, a convenience store, and a dining area. The exclusive, long-term contract underscores Lagardère Travel Retail’s long-standing expertise in delivering operational and commercial value through a Three Business Lines, the retailer said. 

According to Lagardère, the master concession model is especially suited to mid-sized international airports.

Benefits include, it said, a holistic understanding of customer needs to enhance the overall experience. In addition, commercial revenues are boosted for both landlords and brands. 

The model also includes “enhanced” agility, flexibility, and synergies.

Cotonou airport has seen passenger numbers rebound to 2019 levels. Image: Cotonou International Airport

Benin’s government has also implemented a renovation and expansion programme for Cotonou International Airport.

The airport expects to handle 520,000 passengers in 2023, on-par with 2019 levels. 

Growth is coming from a focus on Benin tourism, and positions the airport as a West Africa hub. Airlines are said to be considering opening new routes to the country. 

Benin aims to attract two million visitors annually. Today the tourism sector is the third-largest source of jobs in the country. 

Cotonou plans

Lagardère’s contract will see it elevate the passenger experience through the airport. It says it will bring in an array of international brands and invest in staff training. 

Alongside big-name brands, the retailer also plans to build an authentic local product offering. Through this it will offer passengers the best of Benin culture while supporting local producers. This includes bringing together voodoo traditions, legends of the Abomeh amazons, plus local folklore and tales.

Local food concept the IROKO Bar is inspired by the famous iroko tree, considered sacred by many. 

“We’re delighted to have secured this exclusive master concession at Cotonou airport alongside our very strong local partner,” said Frédéric Chevalier, COO EMEA & Chief Transformation Officer, Lagardère Travel Retail.

“We look forward to helping raise the shopping and dining experience through our unrivalled holistic approach to passenger needs. 

“By working closely together with Keyla, we want to support SAB in raising its standards of excellence and appeal to international travellers. 

JV Lagardère Travel Retail Keyla is focusing on local and international brands. Image: Cotonou International Airport

“We have significant growth ambitions for our operations on the African continent and these new operations in Benin will continue to consolidate our position as a leading international travel retailer in the region.”

Armand Kpindjo, Commercial Manager SAB, added: “Confidence and partnership are the two key words of our deal with Lagardère Travel Retail Keyla. 

“With a refurbished and certified Airport, Cotonou aims to offer the best experience to passengers as well as increase non regulated revenues. 

“The international reputation of Lagardère Travel Retail associated with the African know-how of Keyla is the most relevant way to develop a true partnership based on a custom-made offer fitting passenger expectations.”

Lagardère Travel Retail’s nine-month sales soared by 26.5% year-on-year to €3,719 million, propelled by record quarterly sales in Q3.

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