|A dog poses with an outfit for sale at Molly's Pet Shop at an E-mart in Seongsu-dong, eastern Seoul, in this 2019 file photo. Yonhap|
By Kim Jae-heun
E-mart, the country's top retailer, has decided to close down all of its specialty brand stores that are operated independently from its large discount stores.
The retail giant's specialty stores include home appliances outlet Electro Mart, Molly's Pet Shop, Toy Kingdom and premium grocery store PK Market. Some are found at the locations of E-mart and Traders, E-mart's warehouse discount chain. But the specialty stores located off-site from these large commercial spaces must pay extra rental costs.
"We will not open any more specialty stores outside of E-mart or Traders," an E-mart official said, Thursday. "With the acquisition of eBay Korea, we felt we need to focus on sharpening E-mart's core strengths by closing down specialty stores located outside of our retail properties."
E-mart already closed down its unprofitable health and beauty store Boots, and discount chain store Pierrot Shopping.
The closure of its off-site specialty stores is expected to help the retailer improve its profitability and save on fixed costs such as rent.
Last May, Vice Chairman Chung Yong-jin revamped an E-mart store located in Wolgye-dong, northeastern Seoul, by opening an Electro Mart there, helping the discount store attract a 32 percent increase in customers.
During the second quarter of this year, E-mart's sales increased by 11 percent year-on-year to 5.76 trillion won ($4.89 billion). Its operating profit during the same period rebounded in spite of the pandemic to reach 22.5 billion won ($19.09 million). However, its specialty stores and online businesses displayed relatively poor performance.