More brands from abroad are trying their luck in Seoul

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More brands from abroad are trying their luck in Seoul

For food and fashion brands around the world, trend-conscious Seoul has long been a crucial test market for wider expansion into Asia, and the inflow of foreign brands into the Korean capital is expected to continue this year, according to a report released Thursday by American commercial real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield.

Several well-known franchises, from as close as Hong Kong to as far as Europe and the United States, plan to set up shop in popular neighborhoods in the capital this year.

One of them is Hong Kong-based dessert chain Hui Lau Shan, which will open its first store in Korea at Lotte World Mall in the touristy Jamsil area of southeastern Seoul. Five Guys, an American burger chain, is considering entry into the Korean market after Shake Shack, a New York-based rival, became an instant hit the moment it opened here last year.

As Koreans are expanding their palate for foreign cuisine, owing to the large number of people traveling abroad, the number of foreign franchises here has exploded. One recent entrant is the popular New York City food cart Halal Guys, which started selling its Middle Eastern fare from a brick-and-mortar location in the ethnically diverse neighborhood of Itaewon in central Seoul.

“They chose the streets of Itaewon because of its transformation in recent years to feature new options for wining and dining, attracting a new wave of interest in the area,” Judy Jang, senior manager at Cushman & Wakefield, said in the report.

Global fashion brands, too, are packing into the Korean market. Under Armour, the United States’ second-largest sportswear company, opened its first store in southern Seoul’s upscale Gangnam area in January.

“Under Armour will operate its business directly and strengthen marketing in Korea as the country’s sport and fitness market continues to grow,” Jang said in the report.

Hong Kong-based fashion brand “6ixty8ight” and H&M brand “& Other Stories” opened stores in the Seoul metropolitan area earlier this year.

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