Health and beauty stores consider expansion

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Health and beauty stores consider expansion

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Olive Young is Korea’s top health and beauty store. [YONHAP]

Korea’s health and beauty stores are posting solid growth, allowing them to consider expanding operations at home and abroad, industry data showed Tuesday.

Health and beauty chains like Olive Young, GS Watsons and LOHBs have done well, posting steady gains over the years, while the rest of the country’s retail sector has been struggling with sluggish demand. Retailers have also taken a hit after a drop in Chinese tourists this year.

Health and beauty stores are local adaptations of drug stores that sell everything from medicine and dietary supplements to cosmetics. Korean stores generally have more cosmetics and health care products compared to similar stores in other countries.

The data showed that Olive Young, the country’s top health and beauty store which opened its first location in 1999, reported sales hitting 1.12 trillion won ($987.5 million) in 2016 from a little over 300 billion in 2012. It operated around 850 stores nationwide as of late last year, up threefold from 270 in 2012. “At this pace, Olive Young will have more than 1,000 stores by the end of this year,” a market analyst said.

The company acknowledged the steady growth and said it aims to further improve users’ experience. Olive Young said it is currently exploring the option of expanding operations into places like Southeast Asia and China.

GS Watsons, the country’s second-largest health and beauty chain, said it is also expanding operations.

As of the first half, it has 151 stores nationwide, according to the company, up from 104 in 2014, with sales topping 146 billion won last year. In 2014, sales stood at just over 100 billion won.

Sources within the company said GS Watsons plans to aggressively expand its presence in Korea. The retailer said it would revamp the layout of its stores to make them more customer-friendly.

LOHBs, operated by retail giant Lotte Group, said it, too, posted triple-digit sales growth in 2015 and 2016. It expects year-on-year growth to reach around 80 percent this year. The chain, which opened its first location in May 2013, has 92 stores with more to be opened in the future. YONHAP

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