[THE INVESTOR] GS Retail changed the brand name of its health and beauty shop Watsons to “lalavla” on Feb. 6 to attract more younger customers.
“We changed our name to establish a brand image that’s more attractive to our main customers, which are in their 20s and 30s,” a GS Retail spokesperson told The Investor.
He added that lalavla is a portmanteau of “lala,” which represents laughter, and “blahblah,” which indicates chatter.
GS Retail will also be adopting more eco-friendly products, in addition to renovating the interior design of its stores. The changes will take place from Feb. 7, with GS Retail aiming for completion by the end of May.
The company, however, declined to disclose how much it would be spending on the rebranding.
In 2005, health and beauty store operator Watsons Korea was jointly established by GS Retail and AS Watson Group, which operates Watsons stores across Asia.
In February 2017, the Korean retailer acquired all the shares of Watsons Korea, saying it would strengthen its beauty and health related division. The latest renovation is GS Retail’s first project since it became the sole operator of the beauty and health outlets.
All Watsons stores in Korea are currently directly managed by the headquarters. Although Watsons Korea is the second-largest health and beauty store operator with 188 stores here -- following CJ’s Olive Young, which has more than 950 outlets -- the company has been losing money. Industry sources estimate GS Retail’s operating loss in the health and beauty division last year to be around 8 billion won (US$7.37 million).
GS Retail opened 60 new Watsons stores in the second half of last year and is planning to further expand this year.
By Song Seung-hyun (firstname.lastname@example.org)