Lotte looks for jobs for duty-free workersLotte Duty Free, which closed its landmark Lotte World Tower branch in southern Seoul on Sunday, pledged to put its best effort in finding work for its 1,300 employees.
It laid out additional plans to use the space at the Lotte World Tower, which suggested a determination to regain the license for an additional branch by the end of this year.
According to Lotte Duty Free on Thursday, some 150 employees of the workforce at the closed branch are salaried workers.
About 30 of them will be relocated to six other branches and the headquarters.
The rest of the salaried workforce will have to take leaves of absence in rotation, which means while half of them are working for three months, the other half will be idle.
Those who are on leaves of absence will receive 70 percent of their regular salary.
“We surveyed our salaried workers on what they would like to do if the branch closes, and a lot of them said they wanted to take a temporary rest,” a Lotte Duty Free spokeswoman said.
“And considering the current situation, we couldn’t afford to provide every one of them with regular positions.”
Aside from the 150 full-time employees, there are 1,150 additional employees who are either contract workers or associated with brands sold at the store.
Lotte Duty Free said they requested each brand to relocate the employees to other branches of its shops or other duty-free shops.
There were 13 cosmetics brands that were exclusively sold at Lotte World Tower, and its employees have nowhere to go. In this case, the Lotte Duty Free spokesperson said they are planning to open pop-up stores in Sogong-dong, central Seoul, and COEX Mall in Gangnam District.
The company said the Lotte World Tower space will be used as a place for shoppers to rest or shop online with touch pads installed. That space is to open on Monday.
Keeping the space relatively empty shows Lotte Duty Free’s determination to regain a licence for a duty-free shop at the end of this year. Holding on to the workforce shows the operator’s confidence that it will get back to business if it is granted a license in October.
“The scheduled preparation for the extra duty-free shop announcement is going as planned,” the spokeswoman said. “We are pretty confident that one of the three licenses will be given to us, considering the know-how we have established so far and the attractiveness of Lotte World Tower among foreign travelers when it is completed.”
Lotte Duty Free CEO Jang Sun-wook confirmed the plan in a statement, saying, “How we utilize the space in Lotte World Tower shows our will to reacquire the license in the latter half of the year.”
The Lotte World Tower branch of the duty-free shop has been operating for the past 27 years.
It was first built in the Lotte Department Store in Jamsil-dong, southeastern Seoul, in 1989. It played a significant role in making the neighborhood attractive to foreign shoppers as well as making the department store’s Jamsil branch one of the most successful.
BY JIN EUN-SOO [firstname.lastname@example.org]