LOUIS VUITTON open first ever airport store worlwide, in Seoul

Louis Vuitton has chosen Seoul’s Incheon International Airport for the opening, on Saturday, of its very first airport store anywhere in the world. The 550 sqm Louis Vuitton airport store is located in the middle of the third floor of the passenger terminal’s Airstar Avenue. (IIAC originally signed a contract with Shilla Duty Free at the end of February to open the Louis Vuitton shop).

Top luxury brands such as Gucci, Cartier and Chanel have huge contributions to the performance of the duty free at Incheon Airport. For example, Gucci was the top-selling leather goods brand at Incheon in 2010, with sales estimated at aroundUS$ 42 million, while Chanel generated sales of approximately US$ 25 million and Cartier around US$ 21m.

Following a row over the fact that Vuitton was offered preferential rental conditions, Gucci and Chanel have decided to pull out of the Shilla duty free shops at Incheon International Airport. Gucci has already closed down two outlets in Shilla shops and moved to Shilla’s archrival Lotte Duty Free. Chanel also refused to renew its contract with Shilla, which was scheduled for the end of August, and plans to withdraw in mid-September.

South Korean nationals accounted for 70% of all airport sales in Incheon Airport in 2010 and have remained the most important customer throughout the first eight months of this year.

Meanwhile, in an official statement today, Incheon Airport management said it expects the launch of the Louis Vuitton duty free store to make a significant contribution towards attracting more Chinese tourists to Seoul.  Last year, South Korea attracted 3m (+18%) Mainland Chinese visitors, compared with 6m to Japan and 12m to Singapore.