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Lotte files suit aimed at Shilla shop

Legal battle begins over operation of Louis Vuitton shop at Incheon Airport

Lotte Duty Free has filed a lawsuit against Incheon International Airport for allowing Shilla Duty Free to open a Louis Vuitton store at the nation’s largest international airport.

Lotte said on Thursday that it filed an injunction against the airport because it gave improper favors to Shilla.

Lotte Duty Free’s argument was that the area where the Louis Vuitton store within Shilla Duty Free is to open is mostly a passenger lounge area, and not a part of the Shilla store. 
Lotte Shopping president Shin Young-ja
Lotte Shopping president Shin Young-ja

“What this means is that the Louis Vuitton store is opening anew, which is against the contract Incheon Airport signed with us saying it would not be giving out new contracts,” Lotte Duty Free said in a statement. “The airport must therefore open up the bid to other competitors to select a new bidder.

Lotte and Shilla had both competed to open a Louis Vuitton store at the airport starting in 2007, when the two duty free companies said they would try to get a contract through the French brand.

But in November, Shilla won the contract, under Lee Boo-jin, the newly minted CEO of Hotel Shilla who is also the daughter of Samsung Electronics Chairman Lee Kun-hee. 
Hotel Shilla CEO Lee Boo-jin
Hotel Shilla CEO Lee Boo-jin

The contract aroused attention because it was the first store the French brand had opened in an airport duty free area.

Hotel Shilla executives said they were surprised to see Lotte file the suit.

“It seemed inappropriate for them to seek the courts when both Lotte and Shilla have a contract with Incheon Airport saying we would do our best to open Louis Vuitton stores to help increase airport traffic and ultimately contribute to sales,” said one Hotel Shilla official who declined to be named.

By Kim Ji-hyun (