In 2008 the revenue generated by the Group in Italy amounted to €1,319.9m, +3.9% when compared to the €1,270.7m reported in 2007. Despite the worsening of the economy, especially in the second half of the year, Autogrill achieved positive results in every channel thanks to its quick response and to development projects initiated in previous years. Fourth quarter sales came to €318.3m, an increase of 2.4% on the final quarter of 2007 (€310.9m). For the concession portfolio, 2008 was a crucial year as it marked the expiry of contracts for about 50 motorway locations1. The successful outcome confirms the Group's competitive capacity after the renewals in 2004-2005.

Performance by channel is described below:

  • Motorways: Revenue in this channel totalled €1,039.5m, compared with €1,023.2m the previous year, for an increase of +1.6% (+1.1% after adjusting for the number of locations). This was achieved despite a 0.7% decline in traffic (source: AISCAT, November 2008), which suffered from the increase in the cost of fuel (mainly affecting leisure travel during the first six months), the poor economy, and the decrease in Italian industrial output (to the detriment of heavy vehicle traffic late in the year). Travellers' reduced inclination to spend also shifted demand toward lower priced goods. Autogrill's promotional initiatives and expanded range of products helped it earn better results than the market. In the fourth quarter, as traffic dropped off more severely (by 2% according to Atlantia), there was no reversal of the previous months' upward trend, and sales increased from €244.7m in the last quarter of 2007 to €249m (+1.8%, or +1.3% on a like-for-like basis).
  • Airports: Airport revenue were up by 14.1% (from €68.3m to 77.9m), including Alpha's travel retail & duty-free operations at Fiumicino Airport in Rome, which are now under Italian management due to Alpha's integration within the Group. Net of those sales, the increase comes to 4.3%, against a 2.7% drop in traffic at the relevant airports (source: Assaeroporti). Most of the decline took place in the final quarter (-12.4% at the airports covered, according to Assaeroporti), due in part to flight cuts by Alitalia at Linate and Malpensa airports. The traffic effect was partly offset by the location of food & beverage outlets and shops; at Malpensa, for example, these are mainly found in the check-in area. Fourth quarter sales increased by 3.2% (-4.3% net of Alpha Retail), from €16.5m in 2007 to €17.1m.
  • Railway stations and shipboard catering: sales in this channel were up by 83.4%, from €19.9m the previous year to €36.5m, thanks to the new catering service on Grandi Navi Veloci ferries. Without these new operations, the trend would be in line with last year. Revenue for the fourth quarter grew from €5m to €7m: +41%, or -1.9% net of the new ferry cafés.
  • Other channels (malls, towns and trade fairs): sales in other channels progressed by 4.2% (from €159.3m to €166m), or by 2.9% net of Trentuno S.p.A., which was consolidated from May in 2007. Fourth quarter sales came to €45.2m, an increase of 1% on the final quarter of 2007 (€44.7m).

1 For further details, see the section on "New concessions"