Richemont takes stake in Dufry, aims to grow its brands in travel retail
Dufry’s shares rose over 6% on the Zurich bourse to beat the index’s overall performance, while those of Richemont edged up slightly.
While the move surprised many analysts they agreed it made sense, and the company confirmed the news, saying that it wants to enable its labels to access strong retail locations and that luxury consumers today are increasingly consumers who travel.
Richemont is known to have been looking at the buoyant travel retail sector as a way to drive sales rises and analysts pointed out that its chairman Johann Rupert had said on his most recent earnings conference call that travel retail could be a prime segment for it to grow in small leathergoods specifically. Industry watchers said it will be key for the conglomerate’s watch sales too.
Richemont owns a basket of ultra luxury brands with major interests in leathergoods and watches, including Chloé, Alaïa, Alfred Dunhill, Lancel, Shanghai Tang, Montblanc, Baume & Mercier, Cartier, Piaget and Vacheron Constantin.
Dufry’s share price rise has been particularly impressive this year following news that Chinese conglomerate HNA is building a stake too, in this case one that is approaching 20%. This, along with the Richemont news, has made the shares 25% more expensive today than they were on January 1.
The importance of travel retail operations to luxury firms has been clearly demonstrated over the years by LVMH’s controlling stake in duty free retail giant DFS. Despite what LVMH has described as a “difficult” tourist environment, it has continued to expand the chain into new markets, opening lavish flagships in Angkor, Cambodia and Venice, Italy recently.
Dufry meanwhile said earlier this month that turnover rose 7.2% CHF 1,706.8m in Q1, driven by organic growth and supported by synergies from the World Duty Free acquisition. Gross profit margin further improved to 59.6%. And EBITDA increased to CHF 154.7m.
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