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[Duty Free] SK Networks offers healing resort experience with duty-free

This is the fourth installment in a series of articles on companies vying for Seoul’s new duty-free licenses to be issued Saturday -- Ed.

SK Networks‘ Sheraton Grande Walkerhill Hotel in Gwangjin-gu seeks to entice visitors by offering up a healing resort experience with shopping opportunities if it wins back a duty-free license. 

SK Networks has applied for the license to re-open its duty-free store at the Walkerhill Hotel, having expanded the floor space of its stores and storage by 2.5 times to over 18,200 square meters.

Sheraton Grande Walkerhill in Gwangjin-gu, Seoul (SK Networks)
Sheraton Grande Walkerhill in Gwangjin-gu, Seoul (SK Networks)

The Walkerhill branch has retained its original store space, which will allow the duty-free outlet to open in just one or two months if the license is granted. 

As the only bidder whose store would not be located in the busy Gangnam area shopping district in southern Seoul, SK Networks is emphasizing the peaceful, uncongested resort ambience as its strength. SK Networks describes its Walkerhill branch as a one-stop destination featuring a casino, hotel, resort and spa, and fine dining facilities. 

The company hopes to bring in over 7 million foreign tourists by 2021, and to reach 1 trillion won ($848 million) in sales by 2020. This traffic would be beneficial for surrounding traditional markets and tourist attractions as well, the company says, forecasting that foreign visitors to the relatively unfrequented eastern area of Seoul will rise to 12 million annually by 2021 from the current 3.3 million.

On Tuesday, SK Networks announced that it had developed a new duty-free operations system that would speed up operations by up to 20 percent, and collect detailed data on products purchased by individual tourists for more targeted marketing.

Under the enthusiastic support of SK Networks Chairman Choi Shin-won, the company is planning to invest 600 billion won over the next five years into duty-free facilities, tourism infrastructure, community vitalization and support for small and medium enterprises.

SK Networks President Moon Jong-hoon vowed to “maximize the value of the Walkerhill duty-free store that cannot be offered by any other city duty-free outlet, build a tourist attraction that parallels Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands, and gain competitiveness in terms of scale and sales” with a new duty-free license. 

By Won Ho-jung (hjwon@heraldcorp.com)
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