Shinsegae shifts focus to US, plans to open PK Market by May 2019

By Kim Da-sol

Local retail mogul shares plans for high-tech 30-story distribution center for Korea, autonomous shopping experience

  • Published : Mar 28, 2018 - 15:18
  • Updated : Mar 28, 2018 - 15:18

Shinsegae Group Vice Chairman Chung Yong-jin announced Wednesday that the retail giant -- flourishing in the Korean market but with meager global prominence -- will open the high-end grocery store PK Market in the US by May next year. 

Shinsegae Group Vice Chairman Chung Yong-jin (center) and the Employment and Labor Minister Kim Young-joo look around the booths at the Shinsegae Group and Partners Job Fair held in Seoul on Wednesday. (Yonhap)

Chung was attending the Shinsegae Group and Partners Job Fair held in Seoul, gathering the group’s over 100 subsidiaries and partner companies to hire some 5,000 jobseekers. 

Meeting with reporters, Chung said Shinsegae will open the high-end grocery store PK Market in Los Angeles, US by May next year, the first of its store outside Asia, in hopes of going competing with American supermarket chain Whole Foods Market that specializes in organic foods.

“We plan to bring PK Market to the US as a ‘total food grocerant,’ which will introduce Asian contents ranging from Korean cuisine to Japanese, Chinese, Indonesian and Thai dishes,” Chung told reporters.

“Main target customers will be Americans. The location, in fact, will be next to Whole Foods Market to attract them to come to our store,” he said, adding that they are preparing to open a trial operation.

Chung said that opening stores in Southeast Asian countries like Vietnam has been “slow” due to tight regulations, while being less susceptible to open competition, whereas the US market is a “stage of infinite competition.”

In 2015, Shinsegae’s retail chain E-Mart opened its first store in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam but has not opened a new one since then. 

Chung also said his firm will strengthen the establishment of distribution centers for operation in Korea.

“We will open a high-tech distribution center for our online mall, something unprecedented and beyond the level of Amazon’s centers. It will be the height of about a 30-story apartment and also become the new landmark in the neighborhood with its artistic architectural structure,” Chung said, without elaborating further on the date of the opening and the location.

“It will become the heart of our online mall such as SSG.COM,” he said, adding that he would “invest all into building this new distribution center” since his “online businesses are heavily dependent on the distribution operation system.”

In January, the retail giant attracted more than 1 trillion won ($940 million) from BRV Capital Management, a consumer focused investment firm, and private equity firm Affinity Equity Partners for its new e-commerce unit. 

Chung also hinted at opening more brick-and-mortar stores filled with E-mart and its private brands such as packaged ready-to-eat food brand Peacock. 

“We will open a store dedicated for Peacock products only, slated for September or October opening later this year in Seoul,” said Chung. 

According to Chung, Shinsegae is currently at the last stage of experimenting autonomous-concept shopping cart, which will incorporate functions such as autonomous driving, product scanning, navigation and even tagging along with the customer to the parking lot. 

“Within a month, we will unveil our very first autonomous-concept shopping cart. We have been experimenting with the cart since last autumn and will introduce it to customers in three years,” Chung said, adding that E-Mart Traders store in Hanam will become a test-bed for this high-tech shopping cart.

By Kim Da-sol (