Heinemann acquires JR/Duty Free Israel; ‘End of an era’ says Lasnitzki

By Luke Barras-hill |

JR/Duty Free ran the duty free concession at Tel Aviv Ben Gurion International Airport in an alliance with Gebr. Heinemann since 2018 – and by itself for decades prior to that.

JR/Duty Free Israel and its businesses are now a 100% subsidiary of Gebr. Heinemann after the latter completed a buyout of James Richardson Group’s (JR/Group) shares in the joint venture partnership.

The Hamburg-headquartered travel retailer had been in a 50:50 alliance with the operator of the duty free concession – owned by the Danos family – at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv since 2018.

The long-term needs of the duty free business in Tel Aviv were first considered by the joint venture partners during the Covid-19 pandemic and it was decided in May last year that the entity would be best served under sole ownership, this publication has been informed.

Garry Stock will continue as Chairman, with Amnon Tagori remaining in charge of the JR/Duty Free business as CEO.

JR/Duty Free management is unequivocal in its wording that the decision to divest its shares via the transaction is not in any way connected to the current Israel-Gaza crisis.

Raoul Spanger, Co-CEO, Gebr. Heinemann: “We are pleased that we have now met all the requirements and approvals for the takeover of the shares of the duty free joint venture. Even if this now coincides with unforeseeable events for everyone involved.”

Eyeing new opportunities

“The Mandie/Danos Family and James Richardson commenced the duty free business in Israel 36 years ago,” JR/Group Director and CEO Milton Lasnitzki told TRBusiness.

“During that time some very special, lifelong friendships and memories were established for all three generations of the family which will be cherished forever: It’s the end of an era.

“James Richardson has other investments in Israel. It will continue, not only to hold these investments, but to make additional investments as and when new opportunities arise.”

In a LinkedIn post quoting Co-CEO Raoul Spanger, Gebr. Heinemann confirms it has now met all the required regulatory approvals that are necessary for the company’s takeover of the duty free joint venture.

Referencing the situation above, Spanger stated: “All of us – the Danos family as well as the Heinemann family – are particularly concerned about the safety of the employees and their families.

“We will do everything we can to further expand the business together with the strong and experienced local management as soon as possible.”

Evelyn Danos, Chair and Owner of JR/Group, added: “After being in the duty free business for over 50 years, the family has decided to divest its remaining interests in the duty free business.

“With so much history behind us, it certainly was not an easy decision, but one that we feel is the right one. In particular, I wish to acknowledge the contribution of so many valued employees to the outstanding reputation gained by the business in Israel over the past 35 years.

“We have full confidence that our partners at Gebr. Heinemann are the right people to continue the James Richardson legacy in Israel.”

Separately, as reported, JR/Duty Free’s interests in Australia and New Zealand were acquired by Lotte Duty Free in 2018.

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