MADRID/MILAN Dec 10 Italy's Autogrill,
the world's biggest airport retailer, outbid rivals to run duty
free shops at 26 Spanish airports owned by public operator Aena,
including key hubs such as Madrid and tourist destinations
Malaga and Ibiza.
Aena's board will study Autogrill's offers, and formalise
its decision on the auctions of three lots of airports at a
meeting on Dec. 18, Spain's public works ministry said on
Autogrill bid via Spanish subsidiary World Duty Free Group
for two lots of airports, and one of World Duty Free Group's own
subsidiaries, known as Canariensis, gained control of duty free
shops in six airports in the Canary Islands.
In total for the three lots, Aena said it would receive
around 2 billion euros ($2.59 billion) out of the projected
earnings of Autogrill and its subsidiaries over the 2013-2020
It added that it would be doubling its earnings from duty
free shops at these airports over those seven years.
Autogrill already runs duty free shops at most of the
airports where outlets were up for grabs, although five of them,
including the airport for the southern city of Granada-Jaen, do
not yet have such stores.
Autogrill shares rose after the announcement, outperforming
a negative Italian market. They closed up 1.51 percent at 7.75
The Italian group reported revenue of around 532 million
euros at the Spanish airports where it operated in 2011, or 9
percent of its global sales.
Aena said it was hoping to maximise earnings at the duty
free shops after handing out the contracts, so that operators'
sales would rise to 700 million euros annually.
All the groups submitting offers have also pledged big
investments in the airport stores, including new designs for the
shops and an expansion of the retail space, according to Aena.
Although the auctions have helped Autogrill cement its grip
on duty free networks at Spain's airports, it also comes at a
time when passenger traffic is on the wane. Aena data showed on
Monday that there were nearly 10 percent fewer travellers
passing through its airports in November than the year before.
Still, Autogrill beat off competition from three rival
bidders in the first auction round involving 11 airports,
including that of capital city Madrid and several northern
destinations such as Bilbao in Spain's Basque country.
Two other bidders tabled offers for shops in the second lot
of nine airports, which included Barcelona and the Mediterranean
island of Ibiza, and for the third lot of Canary Island hubs.
About half of the 80 duty free stores will be concentrated
in Madrid and Barcelona airports.