Lagardère Travel Retail talks strategy after JD.com/JIC minority share deal

By Luke Barras-hill |

Lagardère Travel Retail currently operates around 500 stores across China.

The sale of the 22.36% stake in Lagardère Travel Retail Asia to e-commerce juggernaut JD. com and state-owned fund China Jianyin Investment (JIC) creates ‘exciting opportunities’ shaped around two key objectives.

This is according to Eudes Fabre, Lagardère Travel Retail CEO for North Asia, who spoke to TRBusiness following the announcement yesterday.

“It’s an exciting development. We are already one of the leading operators in travel retail in Asia and China specifically. With this investment, we have two objectives: First is to accelerate our growth in China and the region and also to accelerate the digitalisation of the travel retail business model.”

The deal, which involves combined cash contributions of CNY720 million/US$111.5 million for a minority share in the Paris-headquartered travel retailer’s North Asia business (Mainland China, Hong Kong and Japan), is scheduled to conclude this month.

Eudes Fabre, CEO for North Asia, Lagardère Travel Retail.

‘BIG FOCUS’ ON DUTY FREE

It is designed to quicken the travel retailer’s growth in the region via collaboration in areas such as omni-channel retailing, smart supply chain, logistics and analytics across travel retail, duty free and duty paid points of sale in airports and railways stations.

As reported, Lagardère Travel Retail boasts operations in 32 airports and 28 high-speed train stations in North Asia with a network of 480 stores across all segments (Travel Essentials, Duty Free & Fashion and Foodservice).

While the ‘comprehensive strategic partnership’ will cover all Lagardère Travel Retail’s sectors of activity and channels, Fabre tells TRBusiness that a big focus is expected to be placed on leveraging the travel essentials and duty free business.

JD.com, which has transformed into one of China’s leading supply chain-based technology and service companies with 532 million customers and a growing base of millions of partners, posted consolidated net revenues of RMB456.9 billion/US$70.8 billion (+31.6% yoy) in the six months ending 30 June 2021.

FULFILMENT OPTIONS

Its 618 Grand Promotion over 18 days (1 – 18 June) generated sales of more than RMB100 million from more than 236 brands.

Big beauty brands such as Guerlain, Givenchy Beauty, Benefit, Estée Lauder, Clinique, Origins and Kiehl’s have launched official flagship stores on JD. com in recent months.

TRBusiness asked Lagardère Travel Retail about plans to leverage JD. com’s huge strength across the logistics and supply chain territory to aid customer fulfilment, specifically whether the travel retailer would entertain a collaboration to offer last-mile delivery services in a similar manner to the successful AirAsia venture with its Teleport subsidiary.

Fabre responded: “Absolutely. Leveraging JD.com’s logistical capability including same day delivery to most customers in China is a priority and also their capabilities in smart supply chain.”

JD.com and JIC will hold 18.63% and 3.73%, respectively, of Lagardère Travel Retail Asia’s share capital upon the successful completion of the transaction.

Leveraging JD. com’s logistical capability including same-day delivery to most customers in China is a priority for Lagardère Travel Retail. Source: Shutterstock.com/Freer.

Despite what all sides will hope will be a successful partnership, Lagardère Travel Retail has ruled out any increase on the 22.3% shareholding stake at this time, TRBusiness is told.

“It’s not on the cards at this stage, but beyond the investment it’s meant to be a strategic partnership focused on the business and we will see where it goes,” responded Fabre. “We are very excited about the opportunity it creates for all sides.”

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