Tarnished brand loses space in Shilla’s store

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Tarnished brand loses space in Shilla’s store

A cosmetics brand linked to controversial presidential friend Choi Soon-sil is losing an outlet in a Shilla Duty Free store next month.

Shilla denied that the closure of the John Jacobs store in its Seoul duty-free store has anything to do with Choi, who was indicted Sunday for abuse of power, coercion, attempted coercion and attempted fraud, part of a scandal that threatens the Park Geun-hye presidency. Shilla said the store wasn’t getting enough business.

The skin care brand is run by the brother-in-law of Kim Young-jae, a plastic surgeon reportedly patronized by Choi and her daughter. The company’s official homepage is currently not operating due to excessive traffic.

The company opened a store in the Shinsegae Duty Free Seoul branch in May and in the Shilla Duty Free Seoul branch in July. Industry insiders speculate that John Jacobs benefited from its connections to Choi. It’s considered impossible for a domestic cosmetics brand with no significant sales track record to open at a duty free shop in Seoul.

But at Shilla, where John Jacobs’ contract is through December, the brand has been a bust.

“Its sales report is not so good,” said a Shilla spokesman. “We haven’t made the final decision yet, but the possibility of the brand continuing with us is slim.” He said smaller brands were always evaluated on their performances.

In February, the Blue House gave John Jacobs products to government officials as lunar new year presents. In May, John Jacobs’ CEO Park Hui-jun accompanied President Park on overseas trips to Africa and France. The company promoted its products by emphasizing that the president uses them.

Shinsegae Duty Free said that it does not have plans to close the John Jacobs store at the moment. Unlike at the Shilla store, the John Jacobs in Shinsegae is not a temporary store but an official one.

“Its sales are not impressive, but similar to other small cosmetics brands, we took it in when Shinsegae Duty Free’s Seoul branch opened in May,” said a Shinsegae spokesman. Promoting smaller local brands was one of the strategies for Shinsegae.

BY SONG KYOUNG-SON [song.kyoungson@joongang.co.kr]
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