Chinese customers walk pass a Louis Vuitton boutique located in a duty-free store in Seoul. (The Korea Herald/Kang Jae-eun)
French luxury brand Louis Vuitton is closing shops at all downtown duty-free stores in South Korea by March 2023.
Having stopped running its store at Lotte Duty Free Jeju in December, Louis Vuitton will close three more -- at the Shilla Duty Free in Jeju, Lotte Duty Free in Busan and Lotte World Tower in Jamsil, Seoul -- in March, according to UK travel retail media outlet Moodie Davitt Report.
Louis Vuitton also plans to pull out from the three remaining downtown duty-free stores -- Lotte Duty Free, the Shilla Duty Free and Shinsegae Duty Free in Seoul -- between October this year and March next year, the media outlet said.
The decision to close comes as the French brand seeks to focus on airport duty-free shops, especially those in China’s domestic flight airports.
The Louis Vuitton store at Incheon Airport Terminal 1 is unaffected by the phasing out of downtown operations in Korea, the media outlet said, adding that the company plans to open a second store at the airport’s Terminal 2 by 2023.
In mainland China, Louis Vuitton plans to have five airport stores open by the end of this year, including its existing stores at Beijing Capital International and Shanghai Hongqiao.
The Korea Herald reported last month the brand’s planned withdrawal from downtown duty-free shops in Korea, which suggests that local duty-free stores may no longer be an attractive sales channel for luxury brands due to their heavy dependence on Chinese resellers. Luxury brands have been raising concerns over Chinese resellers as they purchase products in bulk and sell them back home through e-commerce platforms like TaoBao, aggravating confusion in distribution channels and price policy.
By Kim So-hyun (firstname.lastname@example.org