For the sixth year, TRBusiness speaks to Dufry CEO, Julián Díaz in an exclusive video interview about the company’s progress in reopening stores across its sprawling empire in 64 countries, the company’s rehiring scheme and how it is realising new opportunities for alternative product categories during the pandemic.
The full-length video interview will appear in the TRBusiness October e-zine, in which Díaz discusses the company’s recent performance, it’s relatively new business in Hainan and the company’s recovery strategy.
“We cannot reopen everything at the same time, because it is very difficult to return to how things were in 2019 until we know exactly how the traffic and how the number of passengers is going to evolve,” Díaz told TRBusiness.
“At the same time, you can’t afford to have all the shops closed as passengers are going through…This is the very difficult decision process we are going through right now.
“We are operating in 64 countries and they are not recovering at the same speed. This process requires a lot of research and information that should be based in data.
DATA HAS NEVER BEEN MORE IMPORTANT
“Data in travel retail has always been important, but at this specific moment in time it is especially essential […] to ensure we return to the same position we were in 2019.”
During the pandemic, Dufry identified opportunities to update its assortments; adding more convenience and travel essentials, including hygiene and sanitising products.
“Is this something that will be sustainable going forward? I don’t know. What we do think will continue is the significant demand for sustainable products and a significant expectation of experience in store. For example, at the moment you cannot offer testing, sampling etc and this has changed the way we are selling.
“Reflecting our continued research we have focused on developing new novelties and exclusive products for travel retail. We will continue to monitor the data, but we do envisage that the product assortment and demand for core categories – including luxury – will largely revert to how it was in 2019.”
Díaz said that the company does have a pricing structure in mind and it is working with some of the ‘most important suppliers’ for these lines, particularly in beauty.
While Dufry is now focused on the future of the business, it has not forgotten those members of staff it was unable to retain during the pandemic. Díaz confirms that while Dufry cannot rehire all of its former employees – following a major restructuring of the business in 2020 – he does say that they are evaluating recruitment ‘by location’.
“We are doing an analysis location by location as to the workforce we require including at headquarters.
“This requires a certain level of assumptions about reopening in the future. We have been concerned about the human resources.
“When you have to restructure the business as we did in 2020 we defined a new way of working and the most efficient business structure going forward.
“We have approached former Dufry employees and I hope that in the next few months we will hire most of the people that can be hired.
RETAINING EXPERIENCED DUFRY EMPLOYEES
“Obviously, there is a percentage of people that will not be hired again, as a result of restructuring, which we conducted in order to adapt the company to the new reality.
“As I have already communicated to the market, there are already CHF 400m structural changes that will be maintained in the future independently of the volume of sales.
“[This equates to] around CHF 280m personal expenses and CHF 120m operational expenses. This CHF 280m very sadly represents a lot of people. Some people are obviously not going to be hired again.
“Again, this is part of what I commented on regarding the restructuring. In general what we are trying to do is to re-hire those that have been with the company for a long time.”
Then and now: TRBusiness was the first trade media title to interview Julián Díaz on camera in 2015 during the TFWA World Exhibition in Cannes.