Retail in Asia

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Manolo Blahnik to exit South Korea

Stiletto maker Manolo Blahnik is reportedly ceasing operations in South korea due to a decline in sales, as local consumers look to more comfortable and affordable shoes.

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The luxury Spanish footwear brand stopped selling its products within the Shinsegae Department Store Gangnam in late 2023. Now, it plans to shutter its remaining stores in duty-free shops this year, sources told The Chosun Daily.

Manolo Blahnik first entered Korea in 2005. At the time, the brand’s popularity was high due to its association with hit television early 2000s series ‘Sex and the City’ and the show’s protagonist Carrie Bradshaw’s obsession with the high-heel brand.

However, a penchant for comfortable and affordable footwear is taking hold in Korea with industry experts warning demand for high heels has waned in recent years.

“Brands like Manolo Blahnik and Jimmy Choo are still popular for weddings, but overall demand for these high heels has been falling over the years,” a department store official told local media.

According to Statista, some 93 percent of footwear sales in Korea are expected to be attributable to non-luxury by year-end, a footwear market which is forecast to be worth some USD 6.24 billion in 2024, added the research firm.

Established in 1970, Manolo Blahnik is distributed in over 300 doors globally with points of sale in 30 countries across Europe, North America, Asia, and Australia, in addition to its own global e-commerce  platform. It remains privately owned and family-run.

Despite the reported downturn in sales in Korea, Manolo Blahnik sales topped EUR 100 million (USD 107 million) for the first time ever in 2022, with turnover rising 69 percent to EUR 118.2 million and pre-tax profit more than tripling from EUR 4.6 million to EUR 23.7 million.