Paradies Lagardère Swoops On Airport Dining Specialist Tastes On The Fly

Food & Drink

The French parent company of North American travel retailer Paradies Lagardère has signed an agreement to acquire airport restaurateur Tastes on the Fly. The value of the acquisition was not revealed but it is expected to close during the fourth quarter of this year, subject to regulatory approval and third-party consents.

The Tastes on the Fly management team led by executive chairman and co-founder Michael Levine, CEO Edie Ames, and CFO Luke Torres will continue to run the company as an integration begins.

The Tastes on the Fly management team led by executive chairman and co-founder Michael Levine, CEO Edie Ames, and CFOLuke Torres will continue to run the company as an integration begins.

The buyer, Lagardère Travel Retail, is itself part of listed media giant Lagardère Group whose 2023 first-half revenue of €3.7 billion ($4 billion) grew by 19% year-over-year, lifted by growth momentum at its travel retail division. The latter’s acquisitions of Marché International and Costa Coffee Polska were major contributors, and the addition of Tastes on the Fly is expected to do the same at the end of the year.

For Paradies, the deal extends its dining footprint in North America and, after the transaction closes, the company will become the second-largest operator in the North American airport travel retail and restaurant industry with locations in more than 90 airports, and annual sales topping $1.5 billion. Its larger rival Hudson, and newly merged Autogrill, both owned by Dufry, has a presence at around 100 airports.

Tastes on the Fly operates about 25 concepts across five major airports, including San Francisco, Denver, New York’s JFK, Boston, and Vancouver in Canada. Added to Paradies’ existing portfolio, Tastes on the Fly’s addition takes the number of F&B brands to more than 100, ranging from full-service to fast-casual and quick-serve.

Building brand weight in F&B

It means that Paradies Lagardère can offer American airport landlords a wide array of eating and drinking options including Starbucks
SBUX
, Chick-fil-A, P.F. Chang’s, Vino Volo, Beercode, Berkshire Farms Market, Mercantile Provisions, Napa Farms Market, Bobby Van’s Steakhouse, and San Francisco Giants Clubhouse.

Gregg Paradies, president and CEO of Paradies Lagardère, commented that Tastes on the Fly represented “the best of the local dining scene”, adding: “This acquisition will accelerate our growth and enable us to achieve our goal of becoming one of the largest airport restaurant operators in North America.”

Michael Levine, executive chairman and co-founder of Tastes on the Fly, said in a statement: “I personally have known Gregg since we got started in the airport F&B world over 20 years ago and have always admired his company’s commitment to delivering outstanding passenger service. We are excited to embark on new opportunities with the Paradies Lagardère team in this next chapter of Tastes on the Fly’s growth.”

How that growth will manifest itself could be through new concepts and/or more locations. Earlier this year, readers of Food & Wine magazine voted San Francisco the best airport for food in America, and on its list of places to eat were several Tastes on the Fly eateries including Napa Farms Market, seafood restaurant Yankee Pier, and Mustards Grill, a sister to Cindy Pawlcyn’s Napa Valley restaurant.

Commenting on the deal, Dag Rasmussen, chairman and CEO of Lagardère Travel Retail said that it would “strongly reinforce” the presence of Lagardère Travel Retail in the airport F&B business in the U.S. He added: “We are very pleased to welcome Tastes on the Fly into our group. Together, we will aim to create a regional leader and break new ground.”

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