GERMANY. Duffle, a start-up that aims to digitise the travel retail and F&B sector and travel service offerings at airports globally, today revealed travel retail to food & beverage powerhouse Dufry as a new strategic partner [see background to the company in these exclusive Moodie Davitt interviews here and here].

Dufry invested an undisclosed amount in Duffle’s recent financing round (subject to regulatory clearance. Dufry committed to seed round capital into Duffle). Dufry joins fellow travel retailer Gebr. Heinemann, which invested via its investment vehicle GHARAGE Ventures.

Dufry brings tremendous expertise not only in pure retail but also airport food & beverage as a result of the recent Autogrill merger. Under the leadership of CEO Xavier Rossinyol, the company describes itself as a ‘global travel experience’ player with a presence in more than 75 countries.

Duffle said: “Dufry, as well as Gebr. Heinemann, know the business of travel retail and F&B and how to create great travel experiences by heart.”

Gebr. Heinemann has been providing strategic and financial support to Duffle since December 2021 via GHARAGE Ventures, its innovation and investment vehicle. The collaboration of the investors represents a clear commitment to the digitisation of the travel retail industry, Duffle said.

Dufry CEO Xavier Rossinyol, pictured speaking during The Moodie Davitt Report’s Airport Food & Beverage (FAB) + Hospitality Conference & Awards in Bangkok on 12 September, says of the Duffle investment: “We believe that the travel retail and F&B industry is still a non-digitised industry, and the next months and years hold leaps and bounds in digitisation… we look forward to working together on this project with Gebr. Heinemann.”

Duffle to use investment for proof of concept and expansion

GHARAGE Ventures Managing Director Lennard Niemann, who sits on Duffle’s advisory board and who guided it through the fundraising, said: “Seeing two players like Dufry and Gebr. Heinemann invest into a start-up like this in order to digitise travel retail is a great basis to continue the journey.

“We are fully supportive of what Duffle and the strong team behind it is heading for.”

“Jump onto the Duffle Train and lets show what an unbroken travel journey may look like. This is only the beginning.” – Gebr. Heinemann Co-CEO Max Heinemann, speaking in October 2022. Now Dufry has leapt aboard.

Digtalising the entire customer experience

Travel retail is a growing global market; however digitisation still plays a minor role. That’s the view of Duffle, founded in 2021 and headquartered in Berlin.

The company says it has identified this opportunity and aims to digitise the airport experience of travellers.

Duffle provides travellers with a digital platform to access airside duty free shops, brand boutiques and food & beverage (F&B) outlets.

Whatever the traveller needs, be it a perfume or a croissant, will be delivered by Duffle ‘runners’ to their gate or airport lounge within minutes.

Following trials at Copenhagen Airport, Duffle’s service will soon go live at Berlin Airport with delivery and – later – collect options for multi-merchant shopping.

Duffle said it will look to further expand to wide airport services and, if successful, to additional airports.

In addition, Duffle aims to strategically digitise not only the sales experience, but also services and marketing – the entire customer experience at the airport.

Xavier Rossinyol said: “We believe that the travel retail and F&B industry is still a non-digitised industry, and the next months and years hold leaps and bounds in digitisation.

“We are actively exploring and participating in this change and see this investment opportunity as part of our initiatives. We look forward to working together on this project with Gebr. Heinemann.

“The Duffle platform has the potential to create more contact points with customers to offer them a seamless experience both in stores and digitally, and I am curious to see how travellers will react to all the offers that Duffle has in its pipeline.”

Gebr. Heinemann, Co-CEO Max Heinemann said: “Duffle aims  to be a platform which provides an unbroken travel experience that includes all kinds of retail offers and travel services.

“This approach requires collaboration of all stakeholders at an airport, including travel retail, F&B and other travel service providers.

“Together, we need to put the traveller in the centre of service, quality and convenience. Therefore, we welcome the additional strategic investor for Duffle, which is now ready to get to the next level.” ✈

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