Retail properties

South Korean cosmetics group AmorePacific to open 10 new stores in Hong Kong

PUBLISHED : Monday, 18 July, 2016, 9:32am
UPDATED : Monday, 18 July, 2016, 9:56am

South Korea’s largest cosmetics manufacturer AmorePacific says it expects to open around 10 new stores in Hong Kong this year, and recruit more staff in the city.

Jeff Cheng, its local marketing director, said the company is also hoping to focus on offering more beauty services to its Hong Kong consumers, and at gaining more customer loyalty.

“To differentiate ourselves, we are going to give customer-experience a higher priority, offering more services such as beauty consulting,” said Cheng.

The moves come as Hong Kong’s retail sector continues to grapple with tumbling mainland tourist numbers, and with more mainlanders choosing to travel to South Korea instead.

The growing popularity of Korean pop culture in Asia is also helping to fuel the rise in visitor interest in the country, say analysts.

Hong Kong’s retail sector has just rung up its worst first-quarter performance since 1999, following 12 straight months of decline in 2015.

Sa Sa International, the city’s biggest cosmetics retail chain, posted a 14.2 per cent fall in sales last year from a year earlier.

Riding on what it called a sustained “Korean wave” of cultural exports, AmorePacific said recently it saw a 21.8 per cent jump in group sales of its brands — which include Sulwhasoo, Laneige, and the more mass-market Etude — during the first quarter.

Cheng said that sales of Korean cosmetics products in Hong Kong had outperformed the flagging local retail sector, adding his company recorded “ideal” sales figures in the first half of the year, regardless of the retail downturn.

Hunter Williams, a partner at global consulting firm Oliver Wyman, says that South Korea is catching up quickly with Hong Kong as a retail centre, adding “we don’t expect this momentum to lose steam any time soon”.

According to a poll conducted by the New York-based consultancy, 38 per cent of mainlanders said they had visited South Korea recently, compared with 41 per cent who had been to Hong Kong.

Pointing to “substantial scope for further growth,” the survey showed nearly a third of respondents said they planned to travel to Korea, versus only 23 per cent for Hong Kong.

As more Chinese travel to Korea primarily for shopping, the Oliver Wyman report revealed that cosmetics, skincare goods and fragrances were the most sought-after items, accounting for 30 per cent of spending in the East Asian country

“Chinese consumers, either at home or abroad, account for most of the growth in Korean cosmetics brands,” the report said.

“Chinese visitors are becoming ambassadors for Korean brands upon their return to China.”