Schiphol and Nuance end joint venture plans; ‘unable to agree mutually acceptable terms’ – 21/09/07

NETHERLANDS. Schiphol Group and The Nuance Group today announced they will not proceed with plans to establish a joint venture for the operation of the liquor, tobacco and confectionery retail outlets at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. The alliance had been due to begin on 1 August.

A statement said: “The parties were unable to agree on mutually acceptable terms.”

On May 7 the two groups announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding to establish a joint venture to operate liquor, tobacco and confectionery retail outlets at the Dutch gateway.

It seemed like a marriage made in heaven – but the couple never reached the altar

“After extensive negotiations both parties today announced that they have been unable to come to mutually acceptable terms for the creation of the joint venture,” the statement read. “While regrettable, the discussions ended in good faith and the parties have agreed upon a proposal for the confectionery concession at Schiphol Airport.”

Nuance currently operates the confectionery concession at Schiphol, while the airport’s subsidiary Schiphol Airport Retail B.V. operates the liquor and tobacco concessions.

COMMENT: When the joint venture was announced in May we described it as one of the industry’s most important stories of recent times – “a major play in anyone’s language”. Equally therefore the breakdown of the alliance before it got off the ground is a big – and surprising – development.

The Nuance Group rightly made much of the agreement at the time, its President & CEO Roberto Graziani noting: “This agreement shows that a real partnership between airport and retailer isn’t only a dream.”

Alas, on this occasion that’s exactly what it’s turned out to be. Different evaluations of the worth of the business – and the cost of doing it – mean it’s back to square one for both parties. Will Schiphol – which only brought its liquor and tobacco retailing in-house on 1 January this year (it was formerly run by KLM Tax Free Services) – seek another partner? Or will it go alone?


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