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WBA strikes franchising deal in South Korea

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DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. (WBA) has signed an agreement to form a franchise partnership with Emart Co., a subsidiary of South Korea’s largest retailer, Shinsegae Group.

Emart store2_South KoreaUnder the terms of the partnership, the two companies will create a pharmacy-led health and beauty retail franchise in South Korea operating under the Boots banner.

Plans call for the stores to be opened in shopping malls, on High Streets and within the outbound areas of Shinsegae department stores and Emart hypermarkets. Each outlet will include an independent pharmacy and an assortment of Boots brand products, “exclusive to Boots” brands and leading Korean brands.

“South Korea is considered a leading market for skin care and cosmetics products in Asia today,” says Ornella Barra, co-chief operating officer of WBA. “We believe there is a significant opportunity to extend the reach of Boots’ own brands into this market and are thrilled to be doing so with Emart. Emart is the preeminent retailer in South Korea, and their strong experience, as well as their marketing expertise, gives us great confidence in the long-term potential of this ­partnership.”

The first stores are slated to open before the end of the first half of calendar 2017. They will feature the popular Boots No7 and Soap & Glory product lines.

Emart is the largest hypermarket retailer in South Korea, with a total of 157 stores in the country and 2013 sales of $11.82 billion. Emart also manages eight stores in China and one in Vietnam. In 2006 the company acquired the 16 stores of Walmart Korea, which raised the chain’s store count above 100.

“We are delighted to have the opportunity to introduce the Boots brand and offer pharmacy care as well as acting as a beauty and health care destination by offering a wide range of both Korean and Boots product brands,” says Gab-Soo Lee, chief executive officer of Emart.

The partnership with Emart is not WBA’s first foray into Asia. The company owns Boots Thailand, a 250-store chain, and also has ownership stakes in a Chinese retail chain and pharmaceuticals wholesalers in the country.

As the Financial Times notes, the approach WBA has adopted for Korea echoes its strategy in the Middle East, where it has partnered with the Alshaya retail conglomerate to run 100 Boots-bannered stores.


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