Lotte moves ahead with two duty-free stores

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Lotte moves ahead with two duty-free stores

Lotte Duty Free is starting afresh in 2017, leaving behind the ignominy of having to shut its 27-year-old duty-free store in Jamsil for the past six months.

The duty-free operator announced Thursday it will officially re-open its Gimhae International Airport branch today and set a goal of 120 billion won ($99.7 million) in revenues for it in 2017. It said the branch, which has been operating partially since September, is generating an average of 200 million won a day.

The branch at Busan’s main airport had been operating at 20 percent capacity since September, when Lotte won the license. Shinsegae Duty Free gave it up last year in order to focus on its Seoul branches.

Since September, it has been operating 158 square meters (518 square feet), which will be expanded 40 percent to 984 square meters after a major renewal. That is 51 percent larger than Shinsegae’s store.

“Lotte Duty Free ran the duty free shops at Gimhae International Airport between 2007 and 2014,” said Jang Sun-wook, Lotte Duty Free CEO in a statement.

“Based on that experience, we hope to make the Gimhae Airport branch into a profit-making branch,” he added.

The company said it will expand floor space for cosmetics by 40 percent to accommodate new brands such as Giorgio Armani and Jo Malone.

Lotte Duty Free which was granted one of three coveted duty-free licenses on Dec. 17, also confirmed that its Lotte World Tower branch in Jamsil, southeastern Seoul will return to normal operations in January.

“Lotte Duty Free was notified Wednesday that the Korean Customs Service officially approved Lotte World Tower to run a duty-free shop,” said Lotte Duty Free in a statement issued Thursday.

Lotte Duty Free can prepare to reopen the branch by relocating staff and checking facilities before a site inspection. If all goes well, the Korean Customs Service will then grant a final license. Although it won the license to re-open what was once the third-biggest duty-free shop in Seoul by revenue earlier this month, there were continuous doubts over whether it would get full cooperation from the customs authority, since group chairman Shin Dong-bin is implicated in the political scandal that led to President Park Geun-hye’s impeachment.

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