Daiso to limit its stationery sales

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Daiso to limit its stationery sales

Daiso stores will be forced to stop selling individual items of stationery in a bid to try and help struggling small and medium enterprises, Korea Commission for Corporate Partnership (KCCP) said Thursday.

The KCCP is set to hold a final vote on Oct. 10 on adding the franchise to the list of major companies that are restricted in conducting businesses closely linked to the fortunes of small companies.

A KCCP spokesman said Thursday that the process is an administrative one and that the agenda is likely to be passed as Daiso and the organization have already reached an agreement.

Daiso, which now has over 1,200 stores in Korea, has faced criticism in recent years from local stationery store owners, who complain that the store is threatening their business. Last month, the franchise decided to voluntarily join the ranks of major companies that have restrictions on stationery sales.

Starting from mid-October, Daiso stores will sell 18 types of stationery in bundles, including pencils, erasers, sketch books and crayons. As the franchise’s products are priced at 5,000 won ($4.46) or under, the stationery bundles will also stay within that range. During the early days, both bundles and individual products will be placed on the shelves until the latter sells out, a company spokesman said.

The rule, however, will not apply to every Daiso store in the country. Only branches directly run by the company’s headquarters will have to follow such restrictions, which account for 60 percent of Daiso’s entire 1,200 or so stores nationwide. The 450 stores operated by franchisees will be recognized as small businesses, allowing them to continue selling individual items of stationery.

A private commission that mediates conflicts between large and small-sized businesses, the KCCP designates industries and product categories, from food to daily necessities, that should be reserved for small enterprises and local merchants. It also lists major companies that should be restricted from conducting business in such fields in order to prevent them from threatening the revenue of smaller enterprises.

Stationery stores were designated as a protected sector in 2015. That year, Emart, Lotte Mart and Homeplus stopped selling 18 types of stationery as individual items.

At the time, Daiso wasn’t big enough to be a threat. But the company grew rapidly over the last few years, leading to an increase in complaints from local stationery store owners.

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