Lotte Group Chairman Shin Dong-bin (second from left) and CEO of LVMH Bernard Arnault (third from left) walk in Lotte Department Store’s luxury wing Avenuel in Jamsil, southern Seoul, Monday. (Yonhap)
Bernard Arnault, CEO of luxury products behemoth LVMH, accompanied by his daughter and the CEO of Christian Dior Delphine Arnault, visited South Korea for the first time in three years after the COVID-19 pandemic, in a bid to discuss the brand's plans regarding duty-free and department store business with major South Korean retailers.
During his three-day trip to Korea which ends on Wednesday, Arnault met with Lotte Group Chairman Shin Dong-bin at the Lotte World Tower in Jamsil, southern Seoul, on Monday, during which they reportedly discussed ways for LVMH and Lotte to cooperate in the future.
With Shin, Arnault toured LVMH's outlets in the Lotte World Tower, such as Louis Vuitton and Tiffany & Co.
Participants of the meeting also included Shin Yoo-yeol, son of Chairman Shin and the vice president of Lotte Chemical, along with Jung Joon-ho, CEO of Lotte Department Store.
Earlier in the day, Arnault visited Lotte Department Store's main branch in Jung-gu, central Seoul, to meet with Chung Joon-ho, CEO of Lotte Department Store.
He was also reported to have visited Shinsegae Department Store's main branch in Jung-gu to meet Sohn Young-sik, CEO of Shinsegae Department Store.
After his visit to Shinsegae Department Store, he visited Dior's pop-up store in Seongsu-dong, a shop modeled after Dior's boutique in Montaigne Street in Paris.
As of Tuesday, along with his daughter, Arnault visited the Hyundai Department Store Pangyo branch to meet with Chung Ji-sun, the chairman of Hyundai Department Store. According to industry insiders, he toured LVMH's outlets such as Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co. and Bulgari on the first floor of the department store, as well as the Louis Vuitton Men's and Dior Men's stores on the sixth floor.
During the visit, Arnault and Chung reportedly discussed LVMH's future collaborations with Hyundai Department Store and Hyundai Department Store Duty Free.
For the remainder of his trip, the head of LVMH is scheduled to meet with a slew of Korean retail giants including Lee Boo-jin, the president of Hotel Shilla and Chung Yoo-kyung, the president of Shinsegae Department Store.
Industry insiders say the meetings with Arnault generally centered around attracting new LVMH outlets in domestic department stores and duty-free stores. The meetings also focused on attracting new investments from the group.
For future meetings with Shinsegae Group and Hotel Shilla, market watchers say Arnault is likely to further discuss LVMH's duty-free business direction in Korea, with the group having announced plans to withdraw its brands from downtown duty-free stores in the nation by March, in lieu of "daigong," or Chinese bundle dealers' tactic of reselling its products, damaging brand value.
Discussions regarding LVMH's duty-free business in Korean airports is also expected take place, with Shinsegae DF and Hotel Shilla both competing for operation at the Incheon Airport, as well as having received letters of intent from Louis Vuitton for running shops in the nation's main airport duty free zone.
In addition, market watchers say with this visit, Arnault is also planning to go over plans made for Korea's first Louis Vuitton fashion show scheduled to be held in Seoul next month.
By Lee Yoon-seo (email@example.com)