Retail giants battle for three duty-free licenses

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Retail giants battle for three duty-free licenses


Shilla I’PARK Duty Free Shop in Yongsan District, central Seoul, is packed with Chinese visitors on Monday. HDC Shilla Duty Free, the operator, hopes to open another duty-free branch at I-Park Tower in Samseong-dong, southern Seoul. [NEWSIS]

Five conglomerates are squaring off over three duty-free licenses in Seoul.

According to the Korea Customs Service Wednesday, Lotte Duty Free, Shinsegae DF, HDC Shilla Duty Free, Hyundai Department Store and SK Networks applied for duty-free licenses open to big companies in a bidding process that ended late Tuesday.

Fierce competition is expected as all contenders have established retail networks. Lotte and SK Networks are trying to regain licenses they lost last year.

“We included our competitive edges in the business plan, such as Lotte Duty Free’s brand power favored by foreign tourists and our 27-year-history of successful business operation,” said Lotte Duty Free CEO Jang Sun-wook.

SK Networks put forward a massive investment plan that includes construction of a 170 meter-long pool and spa facilities within the next two years, injecting 600 billion won over five years. “By 2021, we will achieve 7.05 million foreign visitors to our shop annually and 1.5 trillion won in revenue,” said Representative Director Moon Jong-hoon of SK Networks.

Hyundai Department Store expressed interest in opening a duty-free shop in its branch in Samseong-dong, southern Seoul near City Air Terminal and SM Town, an entertainment space run by SM Entertainment. It has plans to sign memoranda of understanding with 17 tour agencies in China to attract 2 million Chinese visitors annually.

Shinsegae DF has selected Banpo Central City in Seocho District and plans to make the venue a one-stop cultural complex.

HDC Shilla Duty Free, a joint venture between Hyundai Development and Hotel Shilla, is eyeing I-Park Tower in Samseong-dong to make it a technology-oriented shop where customers can experience services related to IT.

Final winners are to be announced in December.

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