[ANALYSIS] Shinsegae’s big picture for future retailing

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Retail giant aims to see meteoric rise in corporate size

By Kim Jae-heun


Not until early this year did Shinsegae start to make its presence again in the local retail market amid the ongoing decline of the supermarket industry.

Shinsegae owns the country’s largest discount store chain E-mart, which enjoyed its heyday until the mid-2010s. However, with the appearance of e-commerce firms like Coupang, people started to shop online and the outbreak of COVID-19 boosted the transition to digital platforms faster than ever.

Vice Chairman of Shinsegae Chung Yong-jin quickly took action to pull out businesses running into the red and declared in January that he will make 2021 a “winning year for Shinsegae.”

“This year could be the best opportunity for Shinsegae Group when the retail market is going through a drastic reshuffle affected by COVID-19. We will not play a losing game,” said Chung through his New Year’s address delivered online.

Sports marketing

The vice chairman started by taking over a local professional baseball team SK Wyverns on January 26, investing a total 135.2 billion won.

Chung has been showing a strong will to create a culture complex that is beyond a simple shopping mall. When he opened Shinsegae Starfield in Hanam, Gyeonggi Province, in 2016, Chung said he will develop the shopping complex into a theme park like Everland or a baseball stadium.

He acted at least somewhat in line with his word and established a new baseball team named SSG Landers in Incheon. In the following April, he opened a Starbucks store and introduced special goods in an exclusive promotion with the baseball team. Starbucks Korea is an equal joint venture between E-mart and Starbucks headquarters that was launched in 1990. E-mart runs the coffee shop chain in Korea.

Last month, Shinsegae opened its No Brand Burger restaurant at the baseball stadium. No Brand is a private brand launched by Chung and the sales of No Brand Burger in Incheon increased by 11 percent just in May, on the back of Chung’s sports marketing.

The vice chairman is also creating synergy between his retailer and the sports team. E-mart ran the largest sale promotional event for the first half in April and named it after the Landers. A month later, SSG.com, an online subsidiary of E-mart, gave out 10,000 won discount e-coupons to those who spent over 20,000 won at Landers Field.

Chung is also launching craft beers named after star players of the Landers in collaboration with E-mart’s convenience store brand E-mart 24. E-mart 24 has already registered trademark rights with the baseball players name Choo Shin-soo, Choi Jeong, Jamie Romak and Choi Joo-hwan in May.

Overseas businesses

Shinsegae is taking its overseas business seriously too. Shinsegae Group’s venture capital firm, Signite Partners, invested in Grab in February. Grab is a company that is referred to as “the Uber of Southeast Asia,” which started as a mobility firm in 2012. It now operates businesses in dining, food delivery and financial services.

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[ANALYSIS] Shinsegae’s big picture for future retailing

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