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Lotte Duty Free closes COEX store after 12 years

Lotte Duty Free today announced that it is quitting its long-standing COEX store in Gangnam, Seoul after 12 years of operation.

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The decision was taken at a meeting of the travel retailer’s senior management and the Board of Directors at parent company Hotel Lotte Co.

The store licence expires on 31st December and Lotte Duty Free said the business will close some time in the second half of the year.

The Lotte Duty Free COEX store opened in 2010 when Lotte acquired Aekyung Group’s AK Duty Free business. The licence was renewed in December 2017, allowing Hotel Lotte to operate it for a further five years.

The Korean number one and world number two travel retailer said that it plans to concentrate its operational capabilities in the wider Gangnam area on the Jamsil-based World Tower branch.

Lotte Duty Free said that its World Tower business boasts the largest number of brand boutiques of any travel retail store in the Gangnam area. The company pledged to boost its management focus on the twin pillars of the World Tower and Myeong-dong flagship. This will increase competitiveness through expanding the product range, boosting the number of brand stores and strengthening marketing activities, Lotte Duty Free added.

“This decision is a special measure to take another leap forward after the pandemic. We will expand investment so that the Lotte World Tower business can absorb the customers from COEX, while we will also improve the surrounding tourism infrastructure,” said a Lotte Duty Free spokesman.

Lotte Duty Free pointed out that the Korean duty business climate “is still not good” due to the intense competition posed by the number of players and the sustained impact of the pandemic.It noted that by the time the bids closed on 30th May, not a single company had applied for a new downtown duty free licence in Seoul.

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Citing Korea Duty Free Association figures, Lotte Duty Free said that the number of domestic duty free shops had decreased from 57 at the end of pre-pandemic 2019 to 48. That will become 47 when COEX closes.

(Source : Moodie Davitt)