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Shinsegae plans ‘Korean Amazon’

1 trillion won investment will go into launching new e-commerce unit

Nov 01,2018
Shinsegae Group Vice Chairman Chung Yong-jin, center, pose with Lee Chul-joo, managing partner at Affinity Equity Partners, left and Yoon Kwan, general partner at BlueRun Ventures at the signing ceremony held at JW Marriott Seoul on Wednesday. [SHINSEGAE GROUP]
Shinsegae has secured investment worth 1 trillion won ($877.8 million) to build a separate company dedicated to its online business, finally giving wings to Vice Chairman Chung Yong-jin’s ambitious plan to create a “Korean version of Amazon.”

Shinsegae said Wednesday that it succeeded in attracting funds worth 1 trillion won from two global private equity firms, BlueRun Ventures and Affinity Equity Partners, to launch a separate company that will comprehensively handle the retail giant’s online business.

The investment plan was revealed in January, but the detailed conditions have been finalized after nine months of negotiation.

“Shinsegae Department Store and Emart have led growth within the group until now,” said Chung. “But from now on, the new entity dedicated to online business will lead growth. All capacity within the group will be concentrated on the online business.”

The retailer will spin off the online business from Shinsegae and Emart and merge them into a separate entity. Shinsegae is mainly in charge of its department store business while Emart is in charge of the eponymous discount chain and warehouse-style mart Traders, among others.

Of the 1 trillion won investment, 700 billion won will be used to establish the new company, which is scheduled to launch in the first quarter of 2019. The name of the new entity hasn’t been decided. The remaining 300 billion won investment will follow at a later date.

“Shinsegae’s new online business-dedicated entity is expected to help it grow into a core company in Korea’s e-commerce industry,” the company said in a statement.

Shinsegae has been running an integrated online platform called SSG.com, which encompasses several online malls such as Shinsegae Mall, Shinsegae Department Store, Emart Mall and Traders, all either run by Shinsegae or its discount chain affiliate Emart.

The soon-to-launch company will operate these online malls.

“A complete integration of the online platform will enable comprehensive investment, simplified decision making and enhanced proficiency,” the company said.

Shinsegae plans to concentrate investment in the online mall’s logistics service and infrastructure to begin with. It said it plans to invest 1.7 trillion won in logistics centers and related technology and achieve revenue of 10 trillion won for the online business by 2023.

Shinsegae currently runs two logistics centers dedicated to online malls in Bojeong and Gimpo in Gyeonggi. The retailer is building a third one in Gimpo, which is scheduled to start operating by the latter half of next year.

SSG.com launched as an integrated site in 2014 and has been recording an average 20 to 30 percent growth each year. It reached 2 trillion won in revenue last year and turned to profit making in the first half of this year.


BY JIN EUN-SOO [jin.eunsoo@joongang.co.kr]


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