Travel Retail Operators – Examining the Top Players

Who managers the retail spaces of major airports worldwide?

Those embarking just now on the wonderful travel retail world will find all the necessary coordinates to interface themselves with the field operators in this article.

On the other hand, industry veterans, who are probably already familiar with these companies, will have the opportunity to learn important information on which to base their business strategy.

In other words, regardless of your degree of experience in this field, if you want to learn some information capable of seriously giving a boost to your business, continue reading this article. 


The management of all airport retail spaces worldwide is granted by airport authorities through tenders. Generally, the administration of these spaces is entrusted to a single company, which becomes responsible for all operations and brand/product portfolio structuring. In rare cases,  airport retail spaces are managed by more than one operator (i.e. the Leonardo da Vinci – Fiumicino- Rome International Airport is managed by two operators, Lagardère and ADR).

This means that each time travel retail experts wish to sell their products at the airport, they must relate to large international companies which receive hundreds of offers on a daily basis. Thus, it is better to know as much as possible on these giants, in order to be able to draft very specific offers for each one of them (this is why you just can’t miss the opportunity of reading the following information).

TOP 10

I had the idea of writing this article for my blog one evening, while reading one of my favorite retail magazines, TRBusiness.

Last October, the magazine identified the “world’s top 10 international operators 2016”, that is the companies that effectively share almost the entirety of the global market. The top ten below has been calculated from 2016 turnovers.

Are you curious?

  • Dufry Group – $ 2 bn
  • Lotte Duty Free – $ 2 bn
  • Lagardère Travel Retail – $ 98 bn
  • DFS Group – $ 5 bn
  • Heinemann – $ 1 bn
  • Shilla Duty Free – $ 2 bn
  • King Power International Group – $ 2 bn
  • Duty Free Americas – 3 bnChina Duty Free Americas – $ 1.3 bn
  • China Duty Free Group – $ 2 bn
  • Aer Rianta International – $ 97 bn

Every year, these giants give rise to a global commercial competition, which translates into a race to conquer international awards they can brag about.

These acknowledgments are awarded for precise product categories, such as “Airport Drinks Retailer of the Year”, for services, such as “OYA Top Award in Customer Service Excellence”, and for marketing campaigns, such as “Best Digital Marketing Campaign for China Award at ATA”.


Let’s take a closer look at the first three companies.

Dufry Group

It has conquered first place, outdistancing the second in the standings by over $ 2 bn, thanks to its presence in 63 countries worldwide. Its strategic strength lies in the localization of its operations.

Dufry is based in Switzerland, and includes over 2200 duty-frees all over the world. Like many of its competitors, Dufry has an Italian branch, Dufrital S.P.A., based in Milan, which employs 572 workers, and whose turnover, in 2015, was over € 144 mln.

The company has been awarded with several international awards, such as “The Americas Travel Retailer of the Year”.

Lotte Duty Free

In 2016, this operator had a turnover of $ 4.2 bn. This, apart from earning it second place in the global ranking, has allowed the Korean company to conquer the title of “Asia’s top duty free shopping service provider”. Today, the company can count on 850 brands in its portfolio.

As stated over and over by the management, the Korean company aims at becoming the first global operator, by focusing, among other things, on entertainment services.

Lagardère Travel Retail

The French Lagardère operates in 4 continents, 30 countries, 150 airports and 700 railway stations. The French company’s business model focuses on creating long-lasting relationships with its clients.

Its Italian branch, Lagardère Food Services S.R.L., is based in Rome and Venice with several business units, employs 850 workers and, in 2015, had a turnover og €58.5 mln.

I’ve been in contact with these operators for a while now; I will soon updated you on some interesting news…

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