Some airports have had to shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic.

PARIS — Dufry Group, the world’s largest travel-retail operator, reported sales declined 94.1 percent in April due to widespread travel restrictions in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Also on Tuesday, the Basel, Switzerland-based giant withdrew its formerly announced full-year guidance for 2020, due to low visibility.

Dufry’s quarterly results are a bellwether of how hard the travel-retail industry’s sales have been hit by the COVID-19 crisis, as travel in most parts of the world ground to a complete halt. How quickly the channel resumes operations, and people begin taking trips again, will have a major impact on the business of luxury beauty brands, which comprise travel retail’s number-one product category.

“At the beginning of 2020, we first saw an acceleration of the business and an encouraging performance,” Julián Díaz, chief executive officer of Dufry Group, said in a statement. “Then the crisis started to impact the travel-retail industry, and our performance in several locations as of February, leading to a negative performance for the first quarter of 2020.”

Dufry’s organic sales grew 0.8 percent in January; declined 2.3 percent in February, as there was a gradual slowdown, especially in Asia, and then dropped 55.9 percent in March, as travel restrictions grew and spread around the globe, causing some airport closures.

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On an organic basis, Dufry’s revenues declined 21.4 percent in the first three months of 2020. In reported terms, group sales declined 23.6 percent to 1.44 billion Swiss francs, or $1.48 billion.

“We have immediately set up a special committee, [which] has developed and implemented a comprehensive action plan focused on driving sales, [securing] cash generation, [reducing] costs and [safeguarding] our profitability,” Díaz said.

“The action plan has adapted the company’s structure to the current environment and considers different scenarios of full-year sales declines ranging from 40 percent to 70 percent, and allowing us to flexibly adapt the measures to the business performance,” he continued.

The executive explained Dufry has developed a recovery plan on a per-location basis and is poised to restart operations as soon as travel restrictions are lifted.

“The recovery plan is based on each location’s productivity and includes a whole set of global initiatives to drive sales through promotions and [adapt] the assortment focusing on new products and [exclusives],” Díaz said.

He explained Dufry had in April instigated some financial initiatives to bolster its capital structure and improve liquidity.

“This is an important step, and together with our cost-cutting initiatives, it will allow us to continue operations until the next cash-generation cycle starts,” Díaz said. “Despite the currently challenging environment, we are strongly convinced that the business will recover as we have seen in previous occasions, and we are well-prepared to serve customers as soon as circumstances will allow.”

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