May 24, 2011 08:08
Chinese language skills are becoming more important than English for workers at duty free shops at Incheon International Airport.
Ahead of the opening of a Louis Vuitton shop at the airport in September, the global luxury brand posted ads for sales and management staff who have a strong command of Chinese or Japanese.
Fluency in English, which used to be a requirement for luxury brand shop employees, has become a preferred ability.
"With the increasing numbers of customers from China and Japan, we need more staff who can speak those languages," said an executive at Bluebell Korea, which will operate the Louis Vuitton shop. "Chinese is especially important due to the soaring number of Chinese customers."
Among shoppers who had spent more than US$200 over the last five years, 14 percent came from China and 12 percent from Japan, compared to just 1 percent from English-speaking countries including the U.S.
Other high-end retailers are also following the trend. Italian luxury brand Prada, which offers financial support to employees who learn Italian, recently started to help pay for Chinese learning as well.
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