North Asia will return as strong revenue driver, says Lagardère TR’s Rasmussen

By Kristiane Sherry and Luke Barras-hill |

Dag Rasmussen, Chairman and CEO, Lagardère Travel Retail.

Lagardère Travel Retail Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Dag Rasmussen has told TRBusiness that 2023 is set to be the company’s “greatest year ever”, while expressing confidence in the future earnings power of North Asia.

Speaking exclusively to TRBusiness for the annual Top 10 International Operators report, available as a special edition accompanying the October issue, Rasmussen hailed the company’s strategic and organisational model.

Across Asia, 95% of Lagardère Travel Retail’s operations have reopened following pandemic-related closures.

“Domestic travel in China is already back to pre-Covid levels so we anticipate further unlocking of travel volume will come primarily from Chinese overseas travel within the region,” he explained.

“Although the spend per passenger is below expectations, we are confident that over the longer term, North Asia will come back to be a strong revenue driver for our group, driven by our expertise in luxury, downtown sales in Hainan and ambitious omni-channel sales strategies.”

Lagardère Travel Retail unveiled its new Aelia Duty Free departures store at London City Airport this month.

As reported, revenues in 2022 reached €3,927 million (around $4,212 million), an increase of +71.5% (reported) year-on-year.

While the figure remains below the 2019 peak of €4,264 million, Rasmussen confirmed the Group as running at higher profits, which have exceeded 2019 levels.

He described EMEA and North America as Lagardère Travel Retail’s “growth engines”. Last year, they delivered gains of +65.4%, with momentum continuing into the first half of 2023.

“In Europe for example, we have benefitted from soaring international air traffic, in particular with dynamic intra-regional flows and the return of US travellers,” continued Rasmussen. 

“We have also experienced a dynamic extension of our network in EMEA with notably the acquisition of HWH’s portfolio of F&B operations in the Middle East; the acquisition of global player Marché International and of Costa Coffee’s network in Poland and Latvia (in 2023); and the success of the Extime Duty Free Paris tender, as well as many new shop openings and refits.”

Spain contracts “major win”

He added that travel retail’s return in North America was “trending ahead of initial predictions”. 

“The introduction of new brands and innovative new retail stores featuring smart vending options have driven sales per enplanement productivity,” he said.

Other key factors driving growth into 2023 include the Extime Duty Free joint venture with Groupe ADP in Paris, and scooping the northern Spanish airport lots in Aena’s duty free tender earlier this year.

On the latter, he described securing lots in the Aena airports duty free tender covering Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria and Basque Country Airports, as a “major win” for Lagardère Travel Retail.

Travelwell at Hong Kong International Airport.

Meanwhile, Rasmussen said the business was “very proud” to have been chosen as the Extime partner, which would “position Paris Airports at the forefront of innovation and excellence within the airport world”.

Rasmussen noted that supply and staff issues continue to be a challenge. Macro-economic headwinds, however, were the most pressing issue.

“We don’t have a crystal ball and can’t say how and if this will sustainably affect travel and spending,” he said. “But we believe mobility is an essential source of progress and value for society and people will continue to travel and explore the world.”

For the full interview, read the TRBusiness Top 10 International Operators issue available by clicking here.

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