SOUTH KOREA. Shinsegae Duty Free has pledged that its new downtown store in Gangnam, Seoul, will be a “mindmark” consumer experience, providing not only duty free shopping but also a Korean cultural and lifestyle immersion.

The store, opened yesterday is the fast-rising travel retailer’s third downtown business (together with Myeong-dong in Seoul and Busan) and a further complement to the company’s burgeoning presence at Incheon International Airport Terminals 1 and 2.

The company said its driving philosophy is to offer a ‘distinguished experience’ rather than ‘shopping spaces’.

Shinsegae Duty Free CEO Son Yung-sik said, “Shinsegae DF Gangnam store will be the starting point of a changing duty free industry as well as a global tourism destination. Connecting with the Seocho and Gangnam areas and various places in Korea, we will strive to create new tourism attractions and contribute to the growth of the Korean tourism industry.”

Customers entering the store are met by a spectacular 3D media façade on 7m ceilings.

The 13,570sq m Shinsegae Duty Free Gangnam store, located in Central City, Seocho-gu, Seoul is spread over five floors. The company said it intends to create a “tourism cluster” around the Seocho and greater Gangnam area, focusing on shopping, gourmet, art and health/wellbeing and medical services.

Shinsegae Duty Free CEO Son Yung-sik (centre), pictured in Seoul recently with Shinsegae International CEO Jeong-ho Cha (left) and Martin Moodie, said of the store opening: “Shinsegae DF Gangnam store will be the starting point of a changing duty free industry as well as a global tourism destination.”

Shinsegae described Central City (which also boasts a range of attractions and facilities including Shinsegae Department Store, Marriott Hotel, Central Park, and Millennium Hall) as the number one shopping destination in Gangnam since 2016. The company said that its Central City branch has also become Korea’s largest culture and tourism complex, attracting a daily footfall of over one million people.

Major tourist attraction such as Seorae Village (a small French enclave dubbed ‘Montmartre’ due to its hilltop location), Apgujung-dong (one of the country’s wealthiest neighbourhoods) and Itaewon (a dining, nightlife and shopping hotspot) can be conveniently reached while various cultural, dining, beauty and medical services are concentrated in the area.

Shinsegae Duty Free said that it will work in partnership with these culture, leisure and dining providers to create new demand for tourism nationwide, linked to a countrywide network provided from the nearby Express Bus Terminal.

Specialised merchandising – Young, Trendy and Luxury

The store offers over 350 brands under three broad concepts – Young, Trendy and Luxury. The retailer said that, in particular, it had boosted its luxury shoes, watch and accessories ranges in recognition of changing luxury goods consumption patterns globally and to attract free independent tourists (FITs).

Shinsegae Duty Free Gangnam boasts a tailored product line-up to differentiate itself from other company and rival stores. Luxury shoe brands Manolo Blahnik and Sergio Rossi are only available at the Gangnam store. Manolo Blahnik, the luxury shoe brand founded by the Spanish designer of the same name, is particularly well-known in South Korea through its references in popular US TV show ‘Sex and the City’.

Trendy fashion and shoe shops include Helena & Kristie, Converse, Birkenstock, Melissa, Carlyn and many others.

Crowds of expectant shoppers flock into Shinsegae Duty Free Gangnam on opening day

Championing Korean products

A strong Korean focus embraces fashion-forward brands such as VOV (cosmetics), G Cut, Find Kapoor and Suecomma Bonnie. Local brands occupy 36% of the total space, which Shinsegae claims to be the highest ratio in Korean duty free.

Gucci, Saint Laurent and Kenzo have all introduced extended product line-ups, including shoes, bags and accessories. Luxury watch brands include Breguet, Blancpain, Hublot and Glashütte Original.

A ‘kidult’ character store called ‘Volcano Shop’ makes its duty free debut, featuring Iron Man, Captain America, and electronic devices from Marvel, Bearbrick and Disney.

A niche perfume boutique, connected to the lobby area of JW Marriott Seoul, will be revealed on the same day as the hotel opening.

Dramatic façade greets guests

Customers entering the store are met by a 3D media façade on 7m ceilings. The façade displays welcome messages in various languages as well as 3D images of beautiful Korean destination spots.

Shoppers can take photos for SNS using specialised lighting at the ‘Studio S’ playground where power influencers snap images involving Korean SME (small to medium-sized companies) products.

Studio S: Tapping into the power of influencers

Shinsegae Duty Free – a new Korean powerhouse rises up the world’s Top 25 Travel Retailers league

The company said its driving philosophy is to offer a ‘distinguished experience’ rather than ‘shopping spaces’. As reported, Shinsegae Duty Free will begin running its newly won Incheon International Airport Terminal 1 concession in early August.

Shinsegae Duty Free said that it is expecting sales of KRW3 trillion (US$2.65 billion) this year after breaking into profit in 2017, six years after its launch in 2012. Last year sales reached KRW1 trillion (US$884 million) but business this year is being boosted sharply by a combination of recovering Chinese tourism, plus the new businesses downtown and at Incheon International Airport.

In October 2017, Shinsegae Group underlined its duty free ambitions by establishing a new entity called Shinsegae Duty Free Global, after splitting its duty free businesses in Busan and Incheon International Airport from parent company Shinsegae Chosun Hotel.

In 2011 when Shinsegae marked its debut in Korean travel retail by acquiring Paradise Duty Free in Busan, its sales were just KW144.3 billion (US$127.6 million), representing a mere 3% market share. If Shinsegae Duty Free reaches KW3 trillion in sales this year, its market share will rise to over 20%, the company noted, consolidating its position as the country’s number three travel retail player, behind Lotte Duty Free and The Shilla Duty Free.

Footnote: Shinsegae Duty Free’s impressive rise will be reflected in The Moodie Davitt Report’s Top 25 Travel Retailers report, to be published in our Print and Interactive edition out in late July. Don’t miss our most-anticipated feature of the year. For advertising details, contact