VIDEO interview: Xavier Rossinyol, Avolta, part 1

By Luke Barras-hill |

Xavier Rossinyol, CEO, Avolta, spoke to TRBusiness in an exclusive video interview during this month’s TFWA World Exhibition.

Speaking to TRBusiness in an exclusive video interview, Chief Executive Officer Xavier Rossinyol talks candidly about the birth of ‘Avolta’, the reimagined corporate fascia for the Dufry-Autogrill entity uncloaked earlier this month.

By adopting Avolta as its new brand identity, the travel retail and F&B juggernaut is aiming to seize on what Rossinyol views as a travel experience revolution reflected by the changing expectations of consumers.

As TRBusiness hears, Avolta is designed to signal a more diversified and resilient company, offering stability, better hedged to cope with macroeconomic shocks, while improving profitability and cashflow.

In the first of a two-part conversation (click below to watch the video), Rossinyol confirms that stakeholder reaction to Avolta has already been ‘a gamechanger’.

“The first reactions have been extremely positive; people understand that Avolta now is more than Dufry and Autogrill,” Rossinyol tells TRBusiness Editorial Director Luke Barras-Hill. “It has been very encouraging, even from competition, which is interesting.

“Language is very powerful, so now I have an aligned team and everyone is part of it; that is fundamental because our philosophy of management is we can only achieve things as long as we are a team.”

‘Disciplined’ approach to bids

Avolta operates across more than 75 countries, in 1,200 locations with a footprint in excess of 5,500 points of sale.

Consumer-facing brands such as Dufry, Autogrill, World Duty Free and Hudson – being just several – will continue to trade under their existing fascias.

For context, Dufry crossed the 90% share capital threshold in the process to delist food & beverage giant Autogrill in June, having successfully transferred the 50.3% stake held in the company by Benetton family-controlled Edizione S.p.A earlier this year.

The move transforms Avolta it into a travel retail behemoth with an expected turnover of around CHF 14 billion/$15.6 billion (2019 pro-forma) and EBITDA of around CHF 1.3 billion (2019 pro-forma, pre-IFRS 16).

During a conversation that touched on several important trends, including digitalisation and hybrid retail concepts, Rossinyol reflected on the journey to arrive at Avolta.

“We’ve been working for many months on the integration,” he explained. “We mean what we say and what we said was the combination of Dufry and Autogrill would produce something that was more than the sum of the parts – now we have duty free, duty paid and F&B.

“But we also want to have a digital engagement with the consumer that is more than we were ever doing before. We thought it was absolutely key to have a name new that visualised this change.

“It’s very exciting and the end of the beginning; for me, it’s the culmination of the group being re-founded in something new. Now, we need to deliver on everything we’ve been saying for the last year.”

On digital engagement specifically, he added: “It is not realistic anymore to think you can do a good job on F&B and retail without proper digital engagement – before, during and after travel. As we speak, we are putting together the basis for all of that and in the next few months we are going to see hybrid concepts, fun stores, more entertaining and digitally engaged stores.”

With the industry re-energised through climbing international traffic levels, new bid opportunities are coming to the fore and Avolta is eager to build on its 2,000+ concession contracts.

However, ‘discipline’ is required on the company’s part when considering future bids, Rossinyol told TRBusiness.

“We do not need any concession – of course we like concessions – but we are here for long-term profitability. It’s not part of our strategy anymore to be in contracts that are structurally not profitable. On our bid strategy, we are going to be very disciplined.

“Our strategy is very clear; we want to be strong in the areas where we are already strong, the Americas and EMEA, but we have a dedicated strategy to grow in the Asia Pacific market.

“For us, our portfolio should reflect the behaviour of the travellers around the world. We do that pretty much, except for Asia where we need to grow further.”

Dufry/Avolta will publish its Q3 Trading Update 2023 on 02 November.

An Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) will take place on 3 November where the Board of Directors will propose to its shareholders to amend the company’s name to Avolta.

Stay close to TRBusiness for part 2 of the video interview with Xavier Rossinyol, CEO, Avolta…


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