A banner day for Korean travel retail

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Martin Moodie
Martin Moodie is the Founder & Chairman of The Moodie Report.
Martin Moodie

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I’m back in South Korea, in very familiar surroundings at the excellent Hyatt Regency Incheon Hotel.

I’ve looked out at this view over overlooking Incheon International Airport (pictured below) many times down the years. I have been travelling to Korea annually since the early 90s and forged many close relationships here.

I’m here to cover one of the banner days in travel retail history. This afternoon Louis Vuitton will open its first-ever airport store, in partnership with The Shilla Duty Free.

This is such a coup for Shilla and Incheon International Airport Corporation, one that will no doubt be reflected in the ceremony later today. I expect a media frenzy, followed by a shopping surge as soon as the doors are open. The brand is big business here, not just for the Koreans but also, and critically, the surging number of Chinese travellers.

The Vuitton store spans 550sq m – probably the biggest single-brand boutique in an airport anywhere – in Incheon’s central Departures area, in new retail space that has been created especially for the purpose.

Sales in year one are expected to hit US$100 million, according to Incheon International Airport Corporation and Shilla. And given booming Chinese traffic that could be a conservative estimate.

I always enjoy travelling through Incheon, along with Changi the most efficient airport I know. I arrived after a ten-hour flight onboard Asiana Airlines – the first time I have flown with the country’s second airline.

Like its rival Korean Air, it has an impressive inflight magazine (212 pages), though I noted that a new item which I have been wanting to buy for some time, the beautiful Montblanc John Lennon Special Edition pen, was out of stock.

Otherwise though, the experience was excellent. They do things in style here in South Korea. As, I’m sure, this afternoon’s banner opening will confirm.

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