Latest posts by Martin Moodie (see all)
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It’s a Tuesday afternoon at Lotte Duty Free’s flagship downtown store in Seoul on a bitterly cold winter’s day.
That’s hardly peak time for the country’s leading duty free operation, yet young, fashionable, acutely brand-conscious young Japanese and Korean women are queued down the aisle to enter Lotte’s Louis Vuitton boutique.
“You want to see it at the weekend,” laughs Lotte Duty Free Business Development Team Director Tae-Ho Kim, “the queue will go all the way [down the aisle] and around the corner.”
In the glittering jewel box of South Korean travel retail the great French luxury brand is the crown. Incredibly, this single (admittedly large) boutique generates sales of around US$8 million a month. When Lotte expands it later this year – more of that in a subsequent story – it will do US$10 million a month.
The Lotte success story just runs and runs. The company enjoys an approximate 49% market share of the Korean travel retail sector, a ratio that is set to jump sharply if, as expected, Lotte is succesful in its takeover bid for rival AK Duty Free (a deal subject to Fair Trade Commission and Customs House approval).
If it lands AK Duty Free, Lotte will (subject to Incheon International Airport approval) re-enter the cosmetics & fragrances business it controversially lost in the 2007 tender at Incheon – a sector it craves.
In the meantime Lotte continues to generate huge sales of cosmetics (pictured above) at its downtown stores (including Lotte World) and it is also proving itself a highly adept retailer of liquor & tobacco at Incheon (below). More of that in a later Blog.