Heinemann returns to profitability with €2.1bn

By Charlotte Turner |

In the second year ‘of the most severe crisis for Gebr. Heinemann’, the Hamburg-based global travel retailer, returned to profitability in 2021, reporting group turnover of €2.1bn/$2.2bn representing a +31% increase vs 2020.


The company also revealed during this morning’s Annual Press Conference (held virtually) that it is targeting 75% of its 2019 turnover for the end of 2022; an ambitious goal by the company’s own admission.


Comparing 2021’s result with the group’s pre-pandemic performance in 2019, turnover is down by around -55% on the €4.8bn/$5.05bn total reported two years ago.


In an opening statement Gebr. Heinemann CEO, Max Heinemann, made some heartfelt remarks regarding the war in Ukraine, expressing his sympathies for the companies’ employees from Russia and Ukraine.


“As you all know, we have business in both countries and employees in both countries too…Naturally our business was suspended on 24 February when the war in Ukraine began and we have decided to suspend all deliveries to Russia, which obviously directly affects our distribution partners and retail sites, but we feel obliged to take this step as part of our global corporate governance.


“We are very worried about our employees in both countries. We wanted to express our deep concern about the situation.”


Gebr. Heinemann CEO, Max Heinemann.

Gebr. Heinemann CEO, Max Heinemann.


Retail constituted 76% of the Group’s overall business – rising from 75% in 2020 – with distribution accounting for 20% and rendered services 4%.


Airports still make up the majority of the business – 73% of the group’s turnover in 2021 – while border shops make up the second-largest segment at 13%.


Europe generated 84% of turnover while the Middle East region made up 8%; Asia Pacific 4%; Africa 3% and Americas just 1%. TRBusiness understands that Heinemann’s business in its heartland of Germany represents around 11% of the total European business.


The proportion of turnover by category remained largely the same as it was in 2020 and 2019, with liquor, tobacco and confectionery making up the majority of the group’s turnover (52%), followed by perfume & cosmetics with 33%.



During its Annual Press Conference, Chief Commercial Officer, Raoul Spanger said: “The disastrous year of 2020 was followed by a year of consolidation and consistent cost management throughout the year. Governmental Covid support was pivotal.”


He explained that the business in Asia had declined from 10% in 2020 to 4% in 2021 due to business at Sydney and Kuala Lumpur airports virtually coming to a standstill. However, in more positive news he revealed that in terms of turnover, the Asia Pacific business was now back up to 30% of what it was in 2019.


“At the end of the year we were able to prolong our contract in KL Terminal 2 and at Sydney. We also opened our boutique in Macau late in the year, which will suffer as long as Chinese are not travelling.”


Spanger also highlighted that 2022 in Asia Pacific will bring with it some tender opportunities. “As you know, Asia is an area where we want to grow and invest.”


Claus, Max and Gunnar Heinemann.

Owners and family members, Claus, Max and Gunnar Heinemann.


In response to the pandemic’s devastating impact to the business ‘and the industry as a whole’, in September 2021, a new vision for Gebr. Heinemann was formulated together with a refreshed mission statement.


This points it ‘towards a clear picture of the future – for our employees, our suppliers, our business partners and customers, the political stakeholders and, above all, the travellers’, added the company.


Unsurprisingly, sustainability remains high on the agenda, according to Gebr. Heinemann CEO, Max Heinemann. “Sustainability must be carved into all daily business processes and discussions.


“We are well on the way to a sustainable corporate roadmap that shall drive and in-spire us.


“As a retailer and distributor, we are at the heart of the supply chain and our reach is far, from producers, suppliers of products to logistics and our worldwide duty free operations right through to the customer – allowing us to be a strong role model.


“But it is also a great position to learn from others, listen to their needs and in doing so constantly improve on our sustainable actions.”


In the past year, Heinemann says it has managed to move from ‘thinking in crisis scenarios to recovery measures and are now looking forward and planning for the future’. Hence also celebrating successes in the past year – even if mostly only virtually – was pivotal.


Gebr. Heinemann re-opened its Moscow Sheremetyevo Airport Terminal C stores in July last year.

Gebr. Heinemann re-opened its Moscow Sheremetyevo Airport Terminal C stores in July last year after being closed for 15 months due to the pandemic. It has since ceased deliveries to its Russian retail sites.



“In 2021, we turned all our energy to shaping the future of Gebr. Heinemann,” added the company owners. “We are the Heinemann Family. We turn travel time into valuable time as the most human-centric company in global travel retail.”


Chief Commercial Officer, Raoul Spanger said: "The disastrous year of 2020 was followed by a year of consolidation and consistent cost management throughout the year. Governmental Covid support was pivotal."

Chief Commercial Officer, Raoul Spanger said: “The disastrous year of 2020 was followed by a year of consolidation and consistent cost management throughout the year. Governmental Covid support was pivotal.”

Claus, Max and Gunnar said that their vision also clearly underlines the claim that people are at the centre of everything the company does.


“We are all the more shocked by the war in Ukraine,” it added. “We have always been a multicultural company. We have employees on both sides of the border who are all part of the Heinemann Family. Our thoughts are with our Ukrainian colleagues and their families and we hope that they remain un-harmed and that this senseless and brutal war will end soon.”


In an interview with the Gebr. Heinemann Executive Board, the company’s CEO, Max Heinemann made further remarks, answering a timely question on current events in Ukraine and how the war impacts the travel retail industry.


“First and foremost, it is a humanitarian disaster. We have been operating in Ukraine and Russia for many years. We are shocked by the events and, above all, very worried about our employees and their families. A big thank you goes to our staff in the countries neighbouring Ukraine who have already done so much to help their colleagues. And we are trying to do something similar from Hamburg.”


Raoul Spanger, COO added: “And of course the industry will also be affected to a great extent. Everything that happens to the world also happens to travel retail. Not only is Ukrainian airspace closed, Russian airlines are also banned from flying to airports in Europe. It remains to be seen how long the conflict will drag on. But the effects will be clearly felt – by us as well as by the entire travel retail and travel industry.”


As of 1 July this year, Stephan Ernst will hand over the position of Chief Financial Officer (CFO) on the Executive Board to Dr Kai Deneke.

Kai Denke is currently Director Controlling at Gebr. Heinemann. The CFO is responsible for Finance, IT, Procurement and Facility Management.

“We sincerely thank Stephan for advancing our company with his constructive manner and look forward to continuing our relationship in a spirit of friendship outside of daily business with him,” said Max Heinemann.

“As a family business, we are very proud to be able to optimally fill the CFO position from our own ranks.”

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