World Duty Free CEO Palencia to depart as company “pursues business combinations” with other operators

World Duty Free S.p.A. last week announced that CEO José Maria Palencia will be leaving the company by the end of 2014, as the company “pursues business combinations with other operators” for further development.

WDF says that Palencia – who has led the company through its integration with Aldeasa, its demerger with Autogrill and other major developments–has agreed to support the transition and continue to maintain the powers granted to him by the Board until his leave.

According to the official statement, the Group has been conducting a strategic review of its growth opportunities and the acceleration of processes integration and efficiency within the Group.

“A new impetus shall be put on business development through both organic growth and pursuing business combinations with other operators. The demerger from Autogrill was the first step toward creating the conditions for achieving such a strategy,” said the statement.

“Whilst agreeing on the basic objectives, the Company and its CEO came to have differing opinions on how to implement the strategy and this led to their considering the possibility of parting ways,” according to WDF Group Chairman Gianmario Tondato.

Palencia adds: “After nine years as CEO, first at Aldeasa and then at World Duty Free, I believe it’s now time, one year on from listing, to set myself new challenges. I wish to thank everyone who works in this splendid group for their commitment, loyalty and the great results we have achieved together.”

Palencia adds: “After nine years as CEO, first at Aldeasa and then at World Duty Free, I believe it’s now time, one year on from listing, to set myself new challenges. I wish to thank everyone who works in this splendid group for their commitment, loyalty and the great results we have achieved together.”

“José Maria has been far more than a colleague over the years: his

work has been vital to the creation of a Group that is now one of the main operators in the global Travel Retail & Duty Free market,” says Tondato

“Further integration of platforms in Europe, recovery of profitability in Spain and acceleration of the integration of the American travel retail business are the main steps to sustain growth, improving margins and therefore cash generation,” he continues.

The WDF Board of Directors will examine Palencia’s departure at a meeting already scheduled for Oct. 2, at which time it “shall resolve upon the Group’s organizational structure and the termination of the powers granted to the CEO …”

Details of the Group’s strategic growth objectives and integration program will follow, says WDF.

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