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Incheon Airport accused of favouring Louis Vuitton
Publication Date : 13-10-2012
A Korean lawmaker said Friday the state-run Incheon International Airport spent 18.7 million won (US$16,840) on a customer survey exclusively for the French fashion house Louis Vuitton, which opened its first duty-free shop last year at the nation’s main gateway.
According to Rep. Shim Jae-cheol of the ruling Saenuri Party, Incheon Airport questioned 500 Korean, Chinese and Japanese passengers using the Louis Vuitton store in November and December on their favourite item, purpose of purchase and service satisfaction.
Shim called the survey a clear favour for the luxury brand, which has already received special benefits at the airport space, such as a low commission rate and a guarantee that it can operate there for 10 years.
In order to host Louis Vuitton’s first airport store in the world, the airport, together with the operator Hotel Shilla, offered the designer’s brand a 7 per cent fee rate, far below the average of 20 per cent for other luxury stores there.
“It is absurd that the state-run Incheon Airport did a customer survey for a specific foreign luxury brand as well as give favours,” the lawmaker said.
The airport on Friday explained that the survey was carried out to analyse the economic impact of the new opening and to seek ways to attract other brands in the future, adding that the results had never been provided to the brand or other companies.
“The fee rate was not that low considering other local retailers receive less or no commission from luxury brands in order to gain a premium image by featuring their stores,” said an Incheon Airport spokesperson.
Louis Vuitton, which opened the 550-square-meter mega store in September 2011, logged more than 100 billion won in sales at the airport alone over the past year.
Korean passengers made up 53.6 per cent of the total customers there.