|Interior of the newly decorated the Galleria department store in southern Seoul (Hanwha)|
The most significant aspect of the renovation was tearing down barriers between the different brands to turn the floors into large select shops.
Jeans, shoes, bags, hosiery, accessories and underwear are piled up in independent sections regardless of brand, while fresh contemporary designs fill the clothes hangers, also not sorted by brand.
This means that without careful observation it is difficult to tell which brand is which. At the same time, the brand image of Galleria has become more dominant.
Exclusive brands such as J.Brand and Jay Strongwater have been introduced, but the Galleria believes it is more about design than brand power.
“They are the trendiest in the other parts of the world but are relatively new in Korea. We believe design is the deal breaker rather than labels or brands,” said Jean Colin, merchandise director and senior vice president of the store, adding that the Galleria was confident about the success of its new branding strategy.
The move is now expected to blaze a new trail in the high-end retail market, according to industry watchers.
“The luxury market has now been thrown into endless competition. Two-thirds of the brands we had ― and there were 130 of them ― were removed, while the rest were relocated,” said Park Se-hun, president and CEO of the department store.
“To replace those that were removed, we decided to invite brands that only Galleria can host and introduce.”
The Galleria, known as the second-most visited department store for foreign shoppers, has recently been stepping up its marketing for foreigners. A concierge service as well as a tax refund service and VIP lounge will be provided exclusively for foreigners as a part of its latest renovation plans.
The department store will also launch a membership card next month, the first in the industry. The card, for 50,000 won ($46.70) per year, will guarantee various benefits including bonus points, discounts, flower arrangement and car-rental services, among others. The company expects about 20-30 percent of its current clientele to subscribe.
“We are aiming to go beyond (being) a department store. The Galleria, opened in 1990, has always led the luxury trend and we intend to become the ‘style destination,’” Park said.
By Bae Ji-sook (firstname.lastname@example.org)