June 25, 2018

Boots’ debut in Korea to shake up market

PUBLISHED : May 19, 2017 - 14:14

UPDATED : May 19, 2017 - 15:25

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[THE INVESTORE-mart unveiled its first Boots store at its Starfield Hanam shopping complex on May 19, throwing down the gauntlet in the 1.2 trillion won (US$1.06 billion) health and beauty industry of Korea. 

Combining the global sourcing power of the UK firm and E-mart’s distribution network, it will offer a differentiated model tailored to the needs of Korean customers, said Chung Jun-ho, vice president of Boots unit. It seeks to position itself as a premium beauty and pharma store with a heavy focus on cosmetics in particular, he added. 

Boots will open a flagship store in downtown Myeong-dong in July and plans to open more in the second half. 

At present, CJ Group’s Olive Young dominates the market with 800 branches across the country. GS Retail’s Watsons Korea operates about 130 and will open up to 40 more within this year. Lotte Shopping has about 90 and will add 35. 

The market is growing fast, doubling from 632 billion won in 2013, and E-mart estimates that it will pass the 3 trillion won mark in less than five years. 

Retailers are moving fast, taking preemptive actions to occupy the booming market, said Ju Yeong-hun, an analyst at Eugene Investment and Securities adding that number of stores is the key to offline retail and latecomers will accelerate opening new outlets to catch up with Olive Young. 

By Hwang You-mee (

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