Interview: Xavier Rossinyol and the birth of Avolta

In an exclusive interview, Avolta CEO Xavier Rossinyol spoke to Martin Moodie earlier today about today’s big news. “We want our people to feel as part of one single company and one single team. And for that, we need a name that embraces all what we do, and all the people we have in the group.”

FRANCE/INTERNATIONAL. In major breaking news tonight, Dufry Group unveiled Avolta, a new brand identity representing the Dufry and Autogrill combination.

“More diversified and resilient together, both geographically and on business lines, Avolta reflects the company’s long-term vision by putting the travellers’ needs at its core and unifying the travel retail and food & beverage (F&B) businesses under a single company name,” said Dufry Group (soon to be Avolta) CEO Xavier Rossinyol.

Rossinyol unveiled the news during a Dufry-hosted event tonight (2 October) at TFWA World Exhibition in Cannes. Earlier in the day he spoke exclusively to Martin Moodie about the initiative.

Martin Moodie: Xavier, we’re here in Cannes for TFWA World Exhibition 2023. And I’m talking to you a few hours in advance of a very big announcement by the group. Tell us all about it.

 Xavier Rossinyol: Well, first of all, as always, Martin, thank you very much for your interest in us. Yes, it’s another very exciting day in the long history of our group. As everybody knows, we combined our business Dufry with the business of Autogrill. And today we are announcing the new name.

We’ve been working for months on the new name because for us it’s not just a word, it’s something that encapsulates a new company.

We are now a leading company in travel retail but also in travel food & beverage, with a very strong focus on consumer, on digital, and on our stores – and all thanks to our people.

And we want our people to feel as part of one single company and one single team. And for that, we need a name that embraces all what we do, and all the people we have in the group.

So you’re going to tell me the name now – the big reveal. You’re speaking tonight to your business partners from all around the globe on a seminal day for the group. So tell us all about it.

As I told you recently during your fabulous FAB in Bangkok, somehow you have articulated the existence of the industry. So yes, I’m going to tell you everything before anybody else knows.

For me, there are three key elements around the new name and the new image. On the one side we have the colour. We are leaving after many years, the red, which was the colour interestingly enough of Dufry but also of Autogrill.

Xavier Rossinyol: “I think the new name is just the culmination of a very lengthy process of integrating two philosophies of business, two groups of people into one”

Instead we go to a softer colour, a more modern colour, a more inclusive colour, which is the purple. We have a new name, but that name cannot be fully understood without the logo.

And the logo, which is going to be seen in your website also, is here [pointing to new Avolta lapel badge]. It’s a logo that embraces the world because as a company we are global. But we also want to be brave; we want to be collaborative; and we want to be passionate about everything we do.

And all that is in this new logo and new name, which is Avolta.

Avolta is born. Tell us about the derivation and about why you’ve embraced it. What does it stand for?

Avolta, we believe is a very strong name. It’s a global name because it can be pronounced in almost any language of the world. And in the same way. It also stands in many Latin languages for ‘fly’, vol also flying, which is at the heart of what we do, not only because of our business but because also we want to fly high.

It’s also around in some other languages it means a spinning or a spin. So going around, which I think goes very well with what our business is – people going around the world.

Also volt is energy. So we think it’s a name that is new. It’s cool. It sounds well and encapsulates all what we stand for. Together with the logo and the colour, I think they are a very powerful image that wants to make clear that we are more than Dufry and more than Autogrill. We are something new, something that is based on those two strong heritages but is much more than that.

This is a pivotal day in your group’s history, is it not? You’ve had this convergence of channels from food & beverage to duty free and general retail all coming together. And now under a new umbrella name, it must be a pretty exciting day personally.

Personally, for sure. But I think – and you heard me saying that – managing a company is always about the people. I think the new name is just a culmination of a very lengthy process of integrating two philosophies of business, two groups of people into one.

And today we work and hopefully we think as one group of people with one target. We truly believe that we are a team. And Avolta is the symbol of that one team approach.

And Avolta is very much centered on the traveller. You’ve told me many times Xavier that you need to focus on the consumer with a perhaps less tradesy approach than in the past. You spoke about that at FAB very well. And this name seems to cover all those bases.

Look, as an industry, not only as Avolta, we need to remember that everything starts and finishes with the travellers. Everybody – operators, landlords, brands, partners – we all have an industry thanks to the traveller.

We like all the travellers.  We like the silent generation, we like the baby boomers, we like the Ys, the Zs and the Xs. But we need to understand that there is an evolution and wherever that evolution goes, we have to be there.

And that can only be done if we keep focusing on the consumers, the travellers, understanding what they want, understanding what they need.

And not only what but how. People today are consuming in a different way than before. Digital engagement is absolutely fundamental.

The combination of digital and physical stores – and by stores I mean both shops and restaurants/F&B outlets – needs to be done in a different way. Consumer-centricity is today at the basis of 100% what Avolta is doing.

So sum up Avolta for me on this landmark day for the company, for a very established company on the one hand with Dufry and with Autogrill, HMSHost on the other – all these great institutions of the travel retail industry coming together now under a common umbrella. Just some up the excitement you feel about that.

Today every member of the teams of the group is not anymore coming from one part of the group. We had a management meeting last week. And I said, today is the first day in our job for all of us. We all start today in Avolta. Avolta is for all of us and from all of us. It is us.

Having said that, we of course are building on the strong heritage of everything that we have done well and that we’re continuing to do well. So the rest of the brands of the group will remain when it makes sense. But we are all members of one big family, one big team that is Avolta. That is so very exciting. I hope it goes well.

I’m sure it will go well. And it must be a very exciting day for the team worldwide. This was a big convergence of different channels but you don’t really see them as distinct channels, do you? You use a commonality about serving the traveling consumer?

Absolutely. I don’t think the right way to organise your business is based on the way you think. You need to organise your business on the way your customer thinks. So our customers don’t want one category. They want something they need.

They have a limited dwell time. And that could mean some gifting that you could find in a Dufry store, but it could be some travel essentials and it could be a coffee or a sandwich they need in a restaurant.

And it’s the same people. We need to organise our business in this way. We believe you need to be able to combine the different businesses, you have to have the know-how on duty free, duty paid and F&B. Only then can you really be of service to the consumer.

And that’s why we believe it’s not three industries, it is one industry around the traveller. We call it travel experience. I’m happy if somebody has a better name, but it’s about the traveller. Our industry is about the traveller not the matière as the French say.

We have exciting days, big days in business but we don’t often as a leader oversee the rebranding of a company and a powerhouse company at that. How do you feel about that?

Well, it’s a big responsibility. Because I really want the name, the logo and the colour to appeal to everybody that is in the group. I want it to appeal also to our partners. I want the brands and the landlords to also feel excited about it as a recognition that we are different.

We are different from ourselves, before the combination, and we are different from the rest of the industry. I’m not saying better or worse, I’m just saying different. We stand for something different. So its very exciting to finally have something that encapsulates that difference.

We don’t often get a new name in our industry. But we have one today, Avolta. It’s very exciting for you, as you’ve just said, but I suspect emotions are running high across the company today?

Absolutely. We’ve been working in a very big group for almost a year now. It’s not easy to find a name nowadays. Everything has been somehow taken and to finally find a name and find an image and a logo that really represents what you are and even more importantly what you aspire to be is tremendously difficult.

And I think we got it. The few people who know about it are very excited. So I hope the entire industry will also be very excited about it.

So Xavier, good luck with Avolta going forward. Journey on [the tagline to the new identity]!

Thank you very much. Journey on! ✈

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