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Shinsegae Department Store head Chung Yoo-kyung eyes W2tr club

[THE INVESTOR] Shinsegae Department Store President Chung Yoo-kyung is stepping up business as she looks to hit the annual 2 trillion won (US$1.82 billion) sales figure in the near future.

Chung was promoted to CEO in 2015, six years after she became vice president. And in April this year, she bought the department store stocks from her brother Yong-jin -- vice chairman of Shinsegae Group -- to now hold a 9.83 percent stake in Shinsegae Department Store, solidifying her managerial position within the group.

Potential of duty-free shop

Success in the duty-free business is going to be one of the key litmus tests for Chung’s potential to lead, industry watchers say, as Shinsegae seeks to diversify its profit.

Shinsegae Department Store President Chung Yoo-kyung
Shinsegae Department Store President Chung Yoo-kyung

The firm launched its Myeong-dong duty-free outlet on May 18, in addition to its other stores in Busan and Incheon International Airport.

But business is hardly stellar. Further, Shinsegae Group’s second-quarter operating profit declined 14.1 percent on-year. Credit Suisse attributed the fall to the costs involved with opening the new outlet.

Therefore, the next big question is, how well will Shinsegae fare in the duty-free war. For now, it is gearing up to compete for another permit to operate a new duty-free store when the government selects up to four more operators at the end of this year.

Chung will be up against some stiff competition, including Hotel Shilla, run by Chairman Lee Kun-hee’s daughter Boo-jin. SK Networks, Hyundai Department Store and Lotte are also potential rivals.

Joining the W2tr sales club

Shinsegae Department Store’s Gangnam outlet is a member of the annual 1 trillion won sales club of local firms, joining it in 2015.

Currently in Korea, only two others, including Lotte Department Store’s Jamshil branch are generating annual revenue of 1 trillion won.

And now, Shinsegae’s Centum City outlet in Busan, which opened in 2009, is expected to join the club this year.

If so, it would be the first provincial department store to join.

As for the cash-cow Gangnam outlet, Chung is said to be upping the ante to aim for annual revenue of 2 trillion won as soon as possible. A specific timetable has yet to be set.

By Kim Ji-hyun (