Struggling Lotte Mart finds Chinese buyer

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A Lotte Mart is closed in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province. Photo: Reuters

After South Korea’s largest retailer E-mart exited the Chinese market, another Korean retail giant Lotte Mart is also gradually finding its way out, Yicai.com.

Liqun Commercial Group, a Chinese department store operator, said it is planning to acquire 12 wholly-owned subsidiaries of Lotte Shopping Holdings Co. Ltd., including two firms in Hong Kong and ten in East China.

It will then own the 15 properties and 72 stores of the Lotte chain, for a reported transaction price of 1.665 billion yuan (US$260 million).

Similar to E-mart, Lotte Mart entered the Chinese market as early as 2008, and soon expanded to 100 stores in 2009. By that time, Lotte Mart’s ambition was to expand to 300 stores in China by 2018.

However, the company has begun to shut down stores since 2012, and has been struggling to find a buyer to cut losses.

Insiders think there are some similarities between E-mart and Lotte Mart. Both of them followed strategies set by their respective Korean headquarters, which led to a lack of flexibility in adapting to the Chinese market.

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