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Vietnam, Indonesia emerge as key target markets for Lotte

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Lotte Chairman Shin Dong-bin, third from right, poses for a photo at the grand opening ceremony of Lotte Mall West Lake Hanol on Friday. [LOTTE SHOPPING]
Lotte Chairman Shin Dong-bin, third from right, poses for a photo at the grand opening ceremony of Lotte Mall West Lake Hanol on Friday. [LOTTE SHOPPING]

HANOI — Lotte Chairman Shin Dong-bin cited Vietnam and Indonesia as key target markets for the Korean retail conglomerate during the grand opening ceremony of Lotte Mall West Lake Hanoi on Friday.

Accompanied by his son, Lotte Chemical Vice President Shin Yoo-yeol, Chairman Shin embarked on a tour of Lotte Mall West Lake Hanoi, emphasizing its significance in the Asian market.

“We anticipate sales of approximately 80 billion won ($59.9 million) by year-end and around 220 billion won for the next year, positioning it as Vietnam’s largest shopping center,” the Lotte Chairman told the press following the grand opening in Hanoi on Friday.

Lotte Corporate’s retail arm, Lotte Shopping, is currently facing formidable competition within the domestic retail market, with rivals such as Emart, Shinsegae, and Coupang. The company reported a 30.8 percent decline in second-quarter operating profit, amounting to 51.5 billion won. Sales also experienced a 7.2 percent decrease, falling to 3.6 trillion won compared to the previous year.

In contrast to these domestic hurdles, Lotte is strategically directing its efforts toward expanding its footprint in Southeast Asia.

The expansion is underpinned by Vietnam’s robust annual economic growth, averaging seven percent, and its youthful population, with an average age of 32 among its 100 million inhabitants. Notably, Lotte Corporate aims to leverage its experiences, including the challenges it faced in China due to retaliation over the Thaad missile defense system, as it selects Vietnam as its new overseas hub.

Lotte made its initial entry into Vietnam in 1998 with its hamburger chain Lotteria. Currently, the conglomerate operates a portfolio of 19 affiliate companies, including department stores, marts, hotels, and cinemas, across various regions in Vietnam. The development of Lotte Mall West Lake Hanoi, requiring an investment of $643 million, has been in progress since 2016.

“This is a core endeavor that combines the strengths of Lotte Corporate’s affiliates in distribution, travel, and construction,” Shin said. “We envision it becoming a landmark in the beautiful city of Hanoi, featuring shopping malls, marts, cultural attractions like cinemas and aquariums, along with hotels, offices, and service residences, contributing to both the regional economy and Vietnam’s development.”

Additionally, Lotte Mall underscored its diplomatic significance with Vietnam.

“Today, with its official opening, Lotte Mall not only offers a wide range of products from Korea and Vietnam but also serves as a bridge for introducing Korean culture and lifestyle to the Vietnamese people and showcasing Vietnam’s diverse attractions to Korea,” said Choi Young-sam, the Korean ambassador to Vietnam, during the mall’s grand opening ceremony.

“Such development occurs as the diplomatic relationship between Korea and Vietnam has been elevated to comprehensive strategic partners, emphasizing the significance of Lotte Mall in fostering cooperation across various sectors, from traditional manufacturing to services and distribution.”

Meanwhile, the presence of Chairman Shin’s eldest son, Shin Yoo-yeol, captured the attention of attendees during the ceremony. The joint appearance has further solidified expectations of a well-defined succession plan within the upper management of Lotte’s leadership.

“Our son is actively pursuing various studies, and there are also plans to engage in the retail sector in the future,” Chairman Shin shared with reporters.

BY SEO JI-EUN [seo.jieun1@joongang.co.kr]