Shilla opens more shops in Asia

November 25, 2013

By Lee Hyo-sik

Shilla Duty Free, Korea’s major player in duty free shopping, has been expanding its presence in Southeast Asia over the past few years to capitalize on the rapidly growth of the sector there.

It is scheduled to open two new duty free shops handling top brand watches at Singapore’s Changi International Airport, one of the world’s busiest aviation hubs, in January next year.

Shilla, affiliated with Samsung Group, has secured deals to run the stores, which are each 157 square meters and 145 square meters in size, at the airport’s No. 3 terminal for five years. The firm outrivaled the world’s largest DFS and five other larger competitors.

Shilla already operates two stores selling various fashion items at the airport. It also opened two shops in Kuala Lumpur International Airport in April, drawing hundreds of Malaysian travelers every day.

“We competed hard against our rivals to secure the brand watch sites. We believe that they will create synergy with the stores already in operation, strengthening our status as a major duty free operator at Changi Airport,’’ a Shilla Duty Free spokesman said. “We will be better able to position ourselves to serve tens of thousands of travelers arriving at and departing from the airport.’’

Based on its success in Singapore, Shilla is seeking to secure deals to open duty free shops in other Southeast Asian nations.

“We have rapidly caught up with our bigger competitors on the back of our extensive operational knowhow and successful marketing strategies. We will continue to focus on Southeast Asia to target an increasing number of wealthy Asian travelers.’’ “In the future, we will move into China, Europe, North America and other parts of the world to become one of the global top five duty free operators.’’

The race to get an upper hand in the increasingly lucrative market has become fiercer, making it difficult to secure sites to set up shops at international airports. But Shilla, which currently ranks ninth globally, has emerged as a winner over the past few years ahead of DFS and other larger rivals.

The global duty free market grew 21 percent in 2012 to $55.8 billion from the previous year. In particular, the sector expanded by 24 percent in Asia. In 2011, the region became the world’s largest duty free market ahead of Europe.