HMSHost's history

Monday, June 28, 2010

Over the past 113 years, Bethesda-based HMSHost has grown from a family-owned general store into a major provider of retail offerings at travel venues around the world, posting sales of $2.48 billion in 2009.

HMSHost's history largely runs parallel to the evolution of American travel.

In the 1920s and '30s, it ran newsstands at railways and lunch counters at bus stops. After the advent of airports and highways in the '50s and '60s, HMSHost became firmly entrenched in the concessionaire business.

"We have made sure that our offerings are relevant to what consumers want," said Elie W. Maalouf, president and chief executive of HMSHost.

The company's growth climbed throughout the last century, including a 14-year stint as a subsidiary of Marriott through the '80s and early '90s as well as a brief go at being a public company in 1996. In 1999, HMSHost merged with Italy's Autogrill, which similarly provides retail services for travelers at more than 1,200 locations in 43 countries.

While Autogrill does not separate out the performance of its subsidiary holdings in its public filings, HMSHost has announced a number of new deals. In April, the company entered into a 50-year joint venture agreement with Ontario-based Kilmer Van Nostrand to develop and operate 23 travel plazas, or rest stops, along two highways in Canada. What's more, the firm has signed on to launch a number of concessions at such airports as Miami International, San Antonio International and Charlotte-Douglas International airports.

-- Danielle Douglas

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