ASUTIL: “If we maximise sales together, we all win” says Dufry’s Rossinyol

By Faye Bartle |

ASUTIL 2023 keynote

Dufry CEO Xavier Rossinyol delivered the 2023 ASUTIL Conference opening keynote address,

TRBUSINESS ON LOCATION: Dufry CEO Xavier Rossinyol highlighted how travel is back, with faster than expected growth, in an upbeat keynote address at the 2023 ASUTIL Conference in Buenos Aires.

Taking place at the Hilton Buenos Aires, in the Puerto Madero district of the Argentine capital, from 7-8 June 2023, the event attracted more than 270 delegates to the conference and to hear the Dufry chief share his vision for the future of duty free in Latin America, as the industry modernises and adapts to the post-pandemic consumer.

Rossinyol highlighted that despite the Covid-19 pandemic and different world crises, international passenger numbers have continued to increase year after year, with figures already close to 2019 levels, yet with Chinese passenger levels still to recover fully. And there is huge room for growth, he stated.

“Only between 10% and 20% of people on earth have ever taken a flight,” he said. “That shows the potential we have in our industry.

“Humans are natural explorers and travel is how we explore today. I believe we will have a great industry for the next 30 years.”

“Many key markets are back to pre-pandemic levels,” he added. “By 2025/26 we believe the level of growth we’ll see will be back to what we would have had even without the pandemic.”

The Dufry CEO went on to say that the company’s underlying performance is strong, but that it would be focused on the changing consumer base as the importance of Gen Y and Gen Z consumers has grown more rapidly within the overall number of international travellers.

“We have to adapt, and so far we, as an industry, have not been dynamic enough to capture this change,” he said. “We must be more adaptable and flexible and offer true experiences to travellers who seek them. And we must do this faster than ever before.”

ASUTIL 2023 keynote

Moderator Dermot Davitt with Xavier Rossinyol.

Rossinyol believes that partnerships will be at the heart of the industry’s success in taking advantage of new dynamics.

“Unless we all can increase customer satisfaction and sales, there is no future,” he said.

“Concentration on the needs of the traveller must be at the centre of how the whole industry approaches the new future.”

Personalised marketing, along with ‘effortless ordering’, were highlighted as paramount to success, with new-generation travellers wanting seamless pick-up and automation.

Furthermore, retailers and food and beverage operators would need to ensure a highly trained workforce to foster high levels of customer satisfaction, according to Rossinyol.

Key elements for the combined Dufry/Autogrill operation included a firm belief in the future of the physical store or restaurant, complemented by focused and targeted digital engagement before during and after the trip.

We can expect to see Dufry developing ‘smart stores’, and creating fun environments where entertainment is key, alongside flexible spaces that can be adapted quickly to customer needs. In addition, stores will likely be renovated more often during the concession period.

Rossinyol commented: “If we maximise sales together, we all win. If we aim to maximise our own margin, we all lose. At Dufry, we are committing to maximising sales in the long term even if it means sacrifices short-term gains. We plan to keep pushing for that.”

ASUTIL 2023 keynote

Left to right: Xavier Rossinyol, José-Luis Donagaray, Gustavo Fagundes and Dermot Davitt.

With regards to Latin America, Rossinyol outlined some of the specifics of this market, underlining the continuing importance of arrivals stores, the different trading channels with ferries, cruises and border stores vying for importance along with airport stores.

The market was ‘volatile’ but the industry ‘resilient’, commented Rossinyol, advising observers to be ready for changes in travel patterns.

“This region represents a huge tourism opportunity,” he summarised. “We are now seeing international travel rising fast, when before this was more of an intra-regional travel market.

“Also, one day the billions of Asian consumers will discover Latin America, which is another long-term opportunity.”

Prior to Rossinyol’s keynote, delegates heard from ASUTIL President and Dufry Brazil CEO Gustavo Fagundes, and ASUTIL General Secretary José-Luis Donagaray, who together delivered a welcome and official opening address.

They highlighted the presence of a great variety of suppliers, operators and distributors from across the duty free community at the conference, with overall numbers just slightly down on the 290 delegates present in Rio de Janeiro in 2017.

Reporting by John Gallagher for TRBusiness.

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