Hartsfield-Jackson contracts to shift with merger of concessionaires

A food court operated by Hojeij Branded Foods. CURTIS COMPTON/CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

A food court operated by Hojeij Branded Foods. CURTIS COMPTON/CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

With two Atlanta-based concessionaires merging, Hartsfield-Jackson International AIrport is seeking approval to assign airport contracts held by Hojeij Branded Foods to Paradies Lagardère.

Lagardère Travel Retail struck a deal to pay $330 million for Hojeij, an Atlanta-based airport restaurant operator. Lagardère plans to combine Paradies Lagardère, its North American division based in Atlanta, with Hojeij.

Hojeij holds contracts for restaurants on Concourse A, Concourse E and a Wendy's on Concourse B.

Getting Atlanta City Council approval for the transfer of those leases is the final condition to be met before the acquisition, according to Karen Suttle, senior vice president/legal at Paradies.

The city council’s transportation committee voted in favor of the measure Wednesday, and it now goes to the full council for consideration.

Across the U.S. and Canada, Hojeij operates more than 124 bars and restaurants in 38 airports, and had sales of $225 million in 2017. Hojeij acquired airport wine bar chain Vino Volo last year.

Lagardère Travel Retail officials say combining its North American operations with HBF will create a $1.1 billion company that will be the third largest in the North American travel retail and food service industry.

Both Paradies and Hojeij companies have long and storied histories at the Atlanta airport.

Hojeij Branded Foods' Wassim Hojeij was a member of host committees for campaign events for former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, and was a major contributor to his campaign.

Earlier this year, Hartsfield-Jackson executive Cortez Carter was fired because of his wife's ties to Hojeij Branded Foods operations in Washington, D.C.

Paradies, one of the largest airport retail businesses in the United States, was sold to Paris-based Lagardère Travel Retail in 2015 for $530 million. Paradies CEO Gregg Paradies became CEO of the combined Paradies Lagardère.

The founder of Paradies, the late Dan Paradies, went to prison in connection with a 1994 airport bribery scandal. He retired from the CEO position at that time.