Korea’s E-Mart Vietnam launches

As a first step in a Southeast Asian rollout, Korean discount store E-Mart has opened its first outlet in Vietnam.

It goes head-to-head with rival Korean chain, Lotte Mart, which has been in Vietnam since 2011 and now has 11 stores. The E-Mart Vietnam launch follows four years of researching the Vietnamese retail market.

Run by retail giant Shinsegae, the new two-storey E-Mart hypermarket is worth US$60 million and is on a 3ha site in the busy Go Vap District of Ho Chi Minh City, nearby the airport. It is the brand’s first overseas store since it shifted focus to Southeast Asia in 2011 after a lacklustre foray into China. The company regards the new store as a foothold for expansion throughout Vietnam and into such neighbouring countries as Indonesia, Laos and Myanmar, reports the Korea Herald.

E-Mart’s Ho Chi Minh City store has been tailored for Vietnamese consumers, and offers several features new for Vietnam. About 95 per cent of the employees (about 300) are Vietnamese, including the manager, and the parking lot has been designed to cater for 1500 motorcycles and 150 cars to reflect the city’s vehicle preferences

As well as featuring Korean products popular with Vietnamese tourists to Korea, the hypermarket has imported items sourced by its operator. Korean dishes such as kimbap, tongdak and grilled chicken are made in-store, as well as baked goods adapted for Vietnamese tastes. On its shelves customers can also find fast-moving consumer goods, household utensils, electronics, and clothing from about 1000 local suppliers, plus a wide range of Korean and Emart-branded products. About 95 per cent of the goods will be locally made.

Unusual for stores in Vietnam, the new E-Mart has such concepts as a diversified food court, a children’s sports club, games centre, book store and an English club, plus its flagship customer services include immediate refund and exchange policies and compensation for checkout errors.

Its mix of food and entertainment is aimed at turning the store into a “happy hypermarket” for Vietnamese consumers, reports VNS. E-Mart Vietnam general director Choi Kwang-Ho says it is hoped these concepts will “sweep the Vietnamese retail market”.

“After successfully building up a sizeable presence in Ho Chi Minh, we plan to expand into the rest of the country,” he said.

According to the Korea Herald, E-Mart has already bought land for a second branch. An E-Mart press release says the company plans to open another hypermarket in Hanoi – a first for the capital – and expand the chain to 52 stores across Vietnam by 2020.

Meanwhile, in co-operation with the Viet Nam National Traffic Safety Committee, E-Mart has donated hundreds of helmets each to seven primary schools in Go Vap. It plans to gift 50,000 quality helmets for primary-school students by 2020.

E-Mart is the largest retailer in South Korea with 160 stores. Founded in 1993 by department store franchise Shinsegae, E-Mart reported global sales of $13.2 billion last year.

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