Lagardère Travel Retail claws back growth as Group earnings soar in FY21

By Luke Barras-hill |

Lagardère Group’s profits jumped back into the black in full-year 2021 buoyed by a spirited performance from global travel retail across all regions.

Revenue for the travel retail division sprung 33.1% on a reported basis (+34.3% like-for-like) to €2,290 million/$2,702.2 million, benefitting from surging Q4 reported sales of +97.1% (+94.1% like-for-like) to €749m, according to statement released to the markets today (17 February).

The company posted recurring EBIT of a -€81m, although this represents a marked improvement (+272%) on the €353m recorded in 2020 as Lagardère Group swung a 404% sprint to €249m from -€155m in the same year.

Group revenue totalled €5,13m in 2021, up 18.6% (like-for-like) versus 2020.

Net debt declined to €1,535m (correct at 31 December) from €1,733m year-on-year, equating to a leverage ratio (net debt/recurring EBITDA) of 3.6x.

While Lagardère Travel Retail’s full-year consolidated revenue remained down 46.1% on 2019 pre-pandemic levels, like-for-like sales were boosted by the partial resumption of international passenger traffic in many countries, combined with the easing of travel restrictions.

Dag Rasmussen, Chairman and CEO, Lagardère Travel Retail.

A GREAT YEAR… FOR DIFFERENT REASONS

Lagardère Travel Retail put its improvement down to a better-than-expected performance reflecting major cost control efforts undertaken by the division in 2021 and optimising the opening hours of its reopened shops.

A total of €1,698m in costs were saved for the year versus 2019, with the cost base helped by a €563m reduction in fixed costs of which €381m linked to fixed lease concession payments (mainly due to renegotiating terms, adapting POS operations, adjusting payroll and reducing overheads).

Dag Rasmussen, Chairman and CEO, Lagardère Travel Retail, said in a statement: “Unsurprisingly, Covid-19 has continued to hamper our financial performance [..]. However, despite challenging circumstances, we have been able to mobilise our greatest strengths to deliver beyond expectations.

“While we are announcing a negative operational result of €81m, this is a €272m increase compared to 2020. This performance has been lifted by the strong rebound of large domestic markets such as the US and China, and despite the Omicron variant creating a more contrasted picture at the end of the year.

“We have reached an exceptional flow-through of 11.8%, which is testament to the outstanding efforts our teams have delivered in managing both our cost structure and the reopening of our network. Our very close partnerships with landlords have allowed us to extend a large number of contracts and to manage operations with a great balance between flexibility to adjust to landlords’ needs and our commitment to deliver the highest standards of customer service.

Source: Lagardère Group.

“In short, our unique strategic vision and positioning, and our organisational model, have enabled us to excel in crisis management as well as we have excelled in managing years of company growth.

“In parallel, we have been able to lay the foundations to our future growth by winning new contracts and starting new operations, notably in South America and in Africa, and by pursuing our dynamic development in China.

Source: Lagardère Group.

“In particular, our strategic partnership with JD.com, the Chinese e-commerce leader, is fuelling further growth through investment and helping us sophisticate our approach in digitalisation, supply chain and CRM. This will not only benefit China but our entire organisation. Finally, 2021 has been an opportunity to make the leap in our efforts to create a more sustainable future for our industry. Details of our new CSR roadmap will be unveiled next month.

“All in all, I would say that sticking to numbers, 2021 may not have been our best year, but it has been the greatest in terms of seeing our teams go the extra mile to protect the company, consolidate our partnerships, and prepare for our stronger future.”

REGIONAL RESULTS BREAKDOWN

In France, revenue for the division jumped by 25.7% year on year (55.4% lower than 2019) due to the gradual pick-up in national and regional travel as restrictions were eased.

The EMEA region (excluding France) advanced by 18.8% year on year (50.5% lower than 2019) also under the impetus of the partial resumption of travel, led by countries with large domestic networks, especially rail stations including those in Romania, Czech Republic and Bulgaria.

North America recorded revenue growth of 72.5% year on year (31.7% lower than 2019), driven by the recovery in domestic air traffic which gathered pace throughout the year.

Finally, revenue recorded in Asia Pacific grew by 28.7% year on year (43.6% lower than 2019), thanks to sharp sales increase in China (+63.4%) lifted by consumer demand and network expansion, which more than offset the decline in sales in the Pacific region in the wake of border closures.

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