June 19, 2015 08:17
Korean firms are scrambling to set up shop in New York City as a litmus test for how ready they are for the global market. With the growing interest in Korean culture in the U.S., they feel this may be the right time to make inroads into the market.
Cosmetics firms are leading the trend. Amore Pacific opened its store at Bloomingdale's department store in Manhattan last week, a first for a Korean cosmetic firm.
"To succeed in the global market, you first need to advance into New York, the trend-setting city," said a company spokesman. Amore Pacific opened its first New York store in 2003 and now operates 26 in the city.
Laneige also opened an outlet in a big supermarket in the U.S. last year. Tonymoly started in New York in August last year and already operates six stores there.
Among conglomerates, Lotte Group recently bought the New York Palace Hotel in Manhattan for US$805 million. With the money, it could have bought a couple of department stores here, but instead it chose to acquire the 133-year-old hotel.
SPC Group opened three Paris Baguette bakery cafés in Manhattan this year alone, in an aggressive move following good performances by its existing shops in the city.
Korea Ginseng Corporation opened a café selling dishes made with red ginseng in Manhattan in late May, while Caffé Bene is running 10 stores in Manhattan alone after its first New York store opened in Times Square in February 2012.
The rush is due to the growing popularity of Korean culture and products in mainstream American society as well as the Korean-American community. For example, according to Korea Customs Service, exports of Korean beauty products to the U.S. rose 62 percent on-year in the first four months of this year.
Korean firms consider it necessary to succeed in New York to become a leading player in the global market. "Hong Kong is a gateway to the Asian market, and New York severs that role in North and Latin Americas," said Amore Pacific Group chairman Suh Kyung-bae.
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