S. KOREAN RETAIL GIANTS SHINSEGAE AND LOTTE TO BUILD WHISKY DISTILLERIES AT HOME
By Siulan Law Mathews DipWSET
Credit: Carl Folscher/Unsplash
South Korea’s leading retailers, the Shinsegae Group and the Lotte Group, are both planning to build whisky distilleries at home, according to local media reports.
The Korea Bizwire reported that Lotte Group’s liquor and beverage arm, Lotte Chilsung Beverage Co., is planning to build a whisky distillery on a parcel of its own lands, construction is expected to begin next year.
The company announced in a release early this year that it will engage in production of whisky and will recruit whisky experts from Scotland to help set up a whisky distillery at home.
Lotte Chilsung’s major competitor, Shinsegae L&B Ltd, is also said to be planning to start whisky production at home. Reports said the company has been recruiting experienced whisky makers, with an aim of building a whisky distillery at home.
The two companies are in a fierce competition for market share in wine retails in South Korea amid rapid growth of wine consumption in recent years.
The Wine Chronicle reported earlier that the Lotte Group is actively looking to buy a vineyard in Europe after the Shinsegae Group acquired the Shafer Vineyard in California’s Napa Valley in February, a move believed would give Shinsegae advantage in the premium segment of the Korean wine market.
Apart from big department stores, Shinsegae also owns convenience stores chain E-mart and the Wine and More outlets while Lotte also owns the 7-Eleven chain in South Korea.
Last year, Shinsegae L&B saw wine sales surge 58.2 percent to WON230 billion (USD184.7m), while Lotte Chilsung logged WON80.5b in wine sales, up 34.4 percent from a year before.
Both companies had been focusing on entry level wines so far, by importing bulk wine from overseas and bottle them locally before selling in their own outlets.
Looking ahead, both retailers appear to be targeting the high-end alcoholic beverage market as well, by acquiring premium wineries overseas and building whisky distilleries at home.
Value of South Korea’s wine imports grew 70 percent from USD330m in 2020 to USD559.8m in 2021. The stellar growth of wine consumption in recent years prompted global wine research firm Wine Intelligence named South Korea the world’s second most attractive wine market after USA.
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