Emart bundles six types of retail under one roof

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Emart bundles six types of retail under one roof

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The electronics store (left) and furniture section (abover) at Shinsegae’s Emarttown in Ilsan, Gyeonggi, on Wednesday. The store officially opens to the public Thursday. Provided by the company

Emarttown, a shopping destination that brings together a warehouse retailer, electronics shop and home improvement store, opens Thursday amid high hopes by parent company Shinsegae.

It is Shinsegae’s latest effort to differentiate itself in an ever more cutthroat retail environment in which most businesses except duty-free stores are struggling to survive.

Located in Ilsan, Gyeonggi, near 13 other retail outlets including Lotte’s Vic Market and Costco - with Korea’s second Ikea store scheduled to open in 2017 - Emarttown is aiming for the wallets of the area’s high proportion of young families and commuters.

The shopping complex has cost Shinsegae 250 billion won ($224 million) to finish.

Emarttown includes six different Shinsegae outlets: warehouse retailer Traders, newly launched home improvement and furniture specialty store The Life, electronics store Electromart, a food court called Peacock Kitchen, a pet center including an animal hotel called Molly’s, and the discount retailer Emart.

Located on below ground, Traders is styled after Costco with high ceilings and countless warehouse racks stocked with a dizzying range of products.

“Forty-five percent of our inventory is foreign imports. We put a great deal of thought and effort into finding new items that you cannot see elsewhere in Korea,” said Roh Jae-ack, executive in charge of Traders. Roh said there are fewer than 50 items in Traders that can also be found in the Emart store upstairs.

There are over 4,000 different items sold at Traders from foods and daily necessities to motor boats and Jacuzzis.

“The economy is horrible nowadays and everyone is hard up. So we minimized costs at every step,” Roh said, adding that Traders aims to increase the number of its stores to 50 by the year 2023.

There are currently 10 Traders outlets in Korea including the new one in Emarttown.

Located on the same floor is Electromart, which sells home appliances, personal electronics and even collectable Legos and action figurines for adults.

In an effort to stand out from other electronics retailers such as Lotte’s Hi-mart, Electromart, with the life-sized action figure Electroman as its mascot, has come up with an eclectic array of products.

The whole outlet comes across as a Nirvana for geeks.

In the home appliances section, it sells beer machines (the featured model is priced 159,000 won), which makes beer in 10 days with a bag of beer mix (priced around 25,000 won) and water. There are also 3-D printers (the MakerBot model sells at 4.75 million won) and drones (a model made by DJI sells at 3.57 million won).

On the ground floor are restaurants and a main food court called Peacock Kitchen, named for Shinsegae’s Peacock house brand of food products.

Peacock Kitchen offers 16 different food stalls including Korean, Vietnamese, Asian fusion, Italian and casual American.

The main theme of the stalls is authenticity, according to Shinsegae.

At its Vietnamese food stall, it has installed a machine to make fresh rice noodles instead of using the dried version used at local Vietnamese noodle franchises. Its Indian food stall has set up an Indian bread making pan, while the Italian pizzeria has a built-in pizza oven.

“At Peacock Kitchen you will not see Koreanized ethnic foods. We serve real ethnic foods,” said Kim Il-hwan, a senior manager in charge of the court.

On the top floor is The Life, a home accessories and furniture outlet being newly launched by Shinsegae.

It is no coincidence that Shinsegae decided to debut The Life in the same area where the second Korean Ikea store is scheduled to open.

Industry insiders call it “an open contest.”

It sells furniture, home accessories and home improvement items like paints and tools for woodwork. The Life also offers a one-stop service for home projects.

Shinsegae says it has created the giant shopping complex to proactively cater to customers who are already overwhelmed with retail channels that offer the same products.

“Emarttown is a one-stop shopping space where specialty stores and large retailers have come together, offering an interesting and diverse array of values,” said Lee Gap-su, Emart’s CEO.

It has paid special attention to social trends such as the increase in households of one or two persons, rising preference for family-oriented lifestyles and a growing appetite for uniqueness and diversity.

“We will strive to create a blue ocean with more outlets like Emarttown,” Lee added.


BY PARK JUNG-YOUN [park.jungyoun@joongang.co.kr]

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