Swiss travel retailer Dufry is to take over World Duty Free (WDF) in a deal valuing the group at €3.6 billion.

WDF runs more than 550 stores in 105 locations, including outlets at 15 UK airports such as Heathrow and Gatwick.

Dufry operates more than 1,650 duty-free and duty-paid shops in airports, cruise lines, seaports, railway stations and tourist areas.

The combined group will boast shops in 67 countries, with a 24% market share.

“The acquisition of WDF will also reinforce Dufry’s position in the Americas by adding operations in the US, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Peru and Chile,” Basel-based Dufry said.

“The transaction will substantially enhance Dufry’s third key growth area in Asia and the Middle East with attractive locations that will support the future growth in these regions.”

Dufry chief executive Julian Diaz said: “The acquisition of WDF is a truly unique and highly transformational transaction for Dufry and is equally a milestone for the travel retail industry overall.

“The transaction further enhances our global position and with a market share of 24% in airport retail, we plan to drive our business to new levels in term of capturing global passenger flows, execution capabilities and efficiencies.

“WDF’s business is highly complementary to our existing footprint and will reinforce our leading position in the Mediterranean, the Americas as well as the Middle East and Asia.

“At the same time, having access to one of the most diverse passenger flows in Heathrow, combining attractive emerging and developed market customer profiles, will allow us to leverage our existing expertise on all the customer groups and to further develop our global offering.”