Hyundai fires salvo with huge Gyeonggi branch

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Hyundai fires salvo with huge Gyeonggi branch

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Rendering of the Hyundai Department Store in Pangyo, Gyeonggi, that will officially open to the public today. Provided by the company

SEONGNAM, Gyeonggi - Gyeonggi has become the front line in the battle between Korean department stores, as Hyundai Department Store opened the country’s second largest in Seongnam today.

The opening of the branch in Pangyo-dong put Hyundai Department Store in direct competition with AK Plaza, Lotte Department Store and Shinsegae, all of which operate in Korea’s most populous province.

Encompassing newly developed districts like Bundang, the city of Seongnam is home to major game companies like Nexon and NCSoft, as well as over 900,000 residents.

But Hyundai believes that the Pangyo branch can absorb people living in other cities in the region - like Yongin, Anyang and Suwon - with its massive size, emphasis on food and diverse facilities for children.

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Stores getting ready for the opening of the department store. Provided by the company

Hyundai’s ambitions for the new store is reflected in its investment and sales targets.

The retailer invested a total of 920 billion won ($772 million) to build the new complex.

It also set the sales goal at 800 billion won in 2016 and then 1 trillion won in 2020. Only three department stores - all in Seoul - have managed to achieve the 1 trillion won milestone: Lotte Department Store in Jamsil, southern Seoul, and Sogong-dong in central Seoul, and Shinsegae Department Store in Gangnam District.

“We will target 4.5 million people living within 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) of the Hyundai Department Store,” Kim Young-tae, CEO of Hyundai Department Store, said during a press event on Thursday.

Hyundai held a preopening event for the public and media Thursday, though the official opening is slated for today.

The head emphasized the geographic advantage of Pangyo, home to one of the country’s tech clusters.

“In Pangyo’s Techno Valley, there are 203 companies and the number of employees living there totals 80,000,” Kim said.

With 237,035 square meters (2.6 million square feet) of floor space, the newest Hyundai Department Store is the second largest mall in Korea after Shinsegae Department Store in Centum City, Busan - the world’s largest department store as certified by Guinness World Records.

Hyundai’s 10-story shopping complex with six underground levels appears to have a competitive edge with its size.

Hyundai said that the Pangyo store is 2.4 times bigger than AK Plaza in Bundang and three times the size of the Bundang branch of Lotte Department Store.

The Pangyo store will bring together some 900 brands to the complex, including 83 luxury designer labels such as Louis Vuitton, Prada and Salvatore Ferragamo.

The new store will likely pose the biggest threat to AK Plaza by Aekyung Group, since it is the nearest department store - only 3 kilometers away.

Louis Vuitton closed its shop in AK Plaza to move into the Hyundai Department Store.

Apparently acknowledging the entrance of the massive mall, AK Plaza Bundang recently remodeled its store.

Other than its size, the highlight of the new Hyundai Department Store lies in its food section, which is the largest among local department stores.

Most notably, it features exotic grocery and food chains.

A large section of first basement level is dedicated to Italian food marketplace Eataly.

The store represents a unique blend of sandwich stalls, grocery stands and restaurants.

There, food products made on the premises are both for sale to the public and used to supply restaurants inside the marketplace.

The brand has been well-received worldwide, but this is its first entrance into Korea.

Other brands making their Korea debuts include Magnolia Bakery, Danish juice chain Joe & The Juice, and Sarabeth’s Kitchen, a New York-based restaurant.


BY PARK EUN-JEE [park.eunjee@joongang.co.kr]

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