Retail in Asia


Busan Duty Free welcomes respected travel retail veteran Ahn Sang Joon as President

Busan Duty Free

Busan Duty Free, one of South Korea’s leading small and medium enterprise (SME) duty-free companies, has announced the appointment of Ahn Sang Joon as its new president.

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Ahn is one of the republic’s most-respected travel retail figures, bringing over two decades of experience in the retail and aviation sectors to his new role, and promising a fresh vision and strategic direction for the company.

He was director of concessions at Incheon International Airport in South Korea from 2013-2015, the culmination of a career with the country’s leading airport company that began in 1996.

Later he became vice president – commercial at Bangalore Airport, holding responsibility for business development and day-to-day operations of all commercial activities, before setting up his own consultancy back in Seoul.

More recently he served as CEO of border store (Mongolia and China) travel retailer Star Duty Free.

Ahn has also held several marketing roles with global luxury brands, helping them to expand market reach and enhance customer experience.

“I am honoured to join Busan Duty Free at such a pivotal time,” Ahn told The Moodie Davitt Report. “The duty-free market is evolving rapidly, and we have an incredible opportunity to leverage new technologies and customer insights to create unparalleled shopping experiences.

“My goal is to not only strengthen our market position but also to establish Busan Duty Free as a benchmark for innovation and excellence in the industry.”

Busan Duty Free has been a feature of South Korea’s vibrant tourism and retail landscape since 2017, known for its multiple-category sea port store in Busan (which enjoys strong connections to Japan) and a downtown store at the landmark Busan Tower.

Ahn’s leadership will focus on several key initiatives: enhancing digital platforms, expanding product offerings, and forging strategic partnerships to boost both sales and customer satisfaction.

His vision includes integrating advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence and big data analytics to personalise shopping experiences and optimise operations.

Ahn said: “Busan represents the resilience of Korean people in its history during the Korean War and the vivid merchant’s spirit as the biggest port city in Korea. Now is a good time to revitalise Korea’s duty-free market. We aim to reach high.”

Busan Duty Free said Ahn’s appointment has been met with optimism from industry experts and stakeholders, who believe his forward-thinking approach will drive the retailer’s success in coming years.

“As the company embarks on this new chapter, customers and partners alike can look forward to exciting developments and enhanced service offerings backed by Ahn’s extensive experience in various sectors of the travel retail industry,” the company said.

Busan Duty Free, established in 2016, offers a wide array of premium goods, including cosmetics, fashion, electronics and local specialities, catering to international travellers and outbound Koreans.

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It is committed to enhancing its three layers of duty free: the downtown store of 1,677 square metres at Busan Tower opened in 2018; a 1,089-square-metre store at Busan port launched in 2017; and inflight duty-free collaboration with low-cost carriers.