Korean Takes Luxury Brand to Saks Fifth Avenue

Korean-owned premium brand MCM has made inroads into the heart of high-end retail in the United States, Saks Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. Kim Sung-joo, the chairwoman and CEO of Sungjoo Group who acquired MCM in 2005, put MCM back in the U.S.' best department store 12 years after the brand withdrew from New York amid trouble at German headquarters.

It is the first Korean-owned brand to make it into Saks, and one of few labels to expand their business while most rivals are closing down outlets.

Kim Sung-joo Kim Sung-joo

"In the past, luxury goods were considered only something for the wives of rich men, who buy them with money that they didn't earn themselves," Kim says. "But now women are buying luxury goods with their own hard-earned money. MCM wants to represent that new concept of luxury." 

MCM opened shops in 15 places in the U.S. including Beverly Hills in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Houston and Dallas.

Born as a youngest daughter of the owner of energy giant Daesung Group, she left her comfortable nest behind and moved to the U.S., where she worked at a Bloomingdale's Department Store for W180,000 per month (US$1=W1,120). She later struggled to resurrect Gucci Korea and in March 2005 acquired Germany's MCM, which had sold goods in Korea through a licensed local contractor.

At the time of the takeover, MCM's annual sales were W80 billion. Four years, that has risen to W220 billion, with 18 percent growth last year alone. The company has also secured 1,500 sq.m shop in Shanghai's financial district.

Kim calls herself "global nomad," and as if to live up to that, she is always on the go.

englishnews@chosun.com / Sep. 21, 2009 07:04 KST