Mar 13, 2015
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World Duty Free meets sales target as Spain offsets Heathrow fall

Mar 13, 2015

Italian travel retailer World Duty Free (WDF) reported on Wednesday a 19.5 percent rise in sales in the first eight weeks of 2015 after a 15.8 percent increase in 2014 to meet its own target of 2.4 billion euros ($2.5 billion).

The rise last year was fuelled by a recovery of its Spanish business that more than offset a 2.4 percent decline in sales at London's Heathrow airport due to currency volatility and geopolitical tensions.


"Heathrow was the most difficult airport in Britain," Chief Executive Eugenio Andrades said in a conference call on results.

The Heathrow business makes nearly one fifth of the group's revenues and is considered its crown jewel. WDF also runs stores at other British airports.

Revenues at Spanish airports, which experienced a steep drop in traffic during the euro zone crisis, were up 14 percent in 2014, showing an acceleration in the final quarter of last year.

WDF, the world's No. 2 travel retailer, is searching for a partner and Italy's Benetton family expects binding offers for its majority stake in the group by mid-March, sources close to the matter have said.

During the conference call, Andrades took no questions on the subject and did not clarify whether the group's concessions would have to be renegotiated if the company changed ownership.

WDF's diversified portfolio of concessions, which have an average length of 9 years, is seen as an attractive asset by rivals, analysts have said.

EBITDA -- or earnings before interests, tax, depreciation and amortisation -- came in at 289.7 million euros in 2014, excluding one-off items, up 5.2 percent on the previous year and slightly above a target of 284 million euros.

€1 = $1.06/£0.71

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