Richemont buys Dufry stake

Luxury goods retailer Richemont has taken a five per cent stake in Dufry AG, the world’s largest duty-free retailer. The Dufry stake is estimated to be worth US$470 million.

Already, analysts are suggesting Richemont wants to follow the strategy of archrival LVMH in investing in fast-growing travel retailing industry. LVMH owns the DFS Group

Shares in Dufry rose by 7.5 per cent in early trading after Friday’s revelation. Richemont owns Montblanc, Alfred Dunhill, Shanghai Tang and Cartier, among a raft of high-end brands.

One of Dufry’s largest existing shareholders is Chinese travel giant HNA Group, which now holds 21 per cent.

Richemont’s CEO and controlling shareholder Johann Rupert, has previously predicted a growing legion of cashed-up Chinese tourists will fuel the economies of western Europe, as more people can afford to travel and their purchasing power increases.

Rupert also predicts that artificial intelligence and robots will cause “economic and social upheaval” in the next 20 years in what is being termed the “Second Machine Age”, leaving huge numbers of people free to travel – providing they can afford to.

“Man will have more free time,” he told journalists on a post-results conference call last week. “What are we going to do in 15 to 20 years’ time? Will they all play virtual reality games, will they be on Xboxes? I suspect travel will increase.

“Will people travel again?” Rupert said. “The answer is yes, especially in the Second Machine Age. We’ll have vast societal changes.”

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