Airport concessions firm Paradies to be acquired

Paradies, a longtime operator of shops at the Atlanta airport and others around the country, is being sold to Paris-based Lagardère Travel Retail for $530 million.

Freeman Spogli & Co., which owns about 70 percent of Paradies, along with the Paradies family and other shareholders, which own the remainder of the company, are selling the firm to Lagardère.

Paradies is one of the largest airport retail businesses in the United States with locations in more than 76 airports, while Lagardère has a stronger presence in Canada. In the deal, Lagardère will acquire a bigger presence in North America, combining operations to create a larger No. 2 competitor to market leader Hudson Group, based in New Jersey.

Sales at the combined company would be nearly $800 million. The deal is set to close in the fourth quarter.

Paradies CEO Gregg Paradies will be CEO of the combined, yet-to-be named company.

Paradies has about 4,000 employees, and Gregg Paradies said “the transaction will be very good for the employees here at the corporate office in Atlanta,” while having no effect on employees at airport locations.

Paradies Atlanta won a retail contract in Hartsfield-Jackson’s massive round of concessions deals nearly four years ago. It operates an array of retail outlets at the Atlanta airport, including the Brighton Collectibles and travel essentials shops in the domestic terminal atrium, Sweet Auburn Market in the international terminal, as well as shops on Concourses A, B and E.

Paradies is a longtime player in airport concessions whose founder, Dan Paradies, went to prison in connection with a 1994 airport bribery scandal. Dan Paradies retired as CEO at that time, and Gregg Paradies is his nephew. Dan Paradies died last year at the age of 92.