E-Mart to enter Laos this year

E-Mart Inc., South Korea's leading discount store chain, said Friday it will make inroads into Laos later this year as it seeks to strengthen its presence in Southeast Asian markets. E-Mart signed a master franchise agreement with U-Dee Co. Ltd., an investment firm under LVMC Holdings, to open an E-Mart discount store outlet and three hard-discount stores under the brand name of No Brand in Laos later this year, the company said in a statement. LVMC Holdings is formerly known as Kolao Group established by South Korean businessman Oh Se-young in 1997. The founder still serves as chairman of the company whose businesses include automobile sales, finance and logistics. Under a master franchise deal, the master franchisor allows the master franchisee not only to open franchise units itself in a specified area but also to sub-franchise them to third parties. Hard-discount stores, smaller in size than large discount store outlets, offer products at more affordable prices to consumers by reducing marketing and merchandising costs. Within the following 10 years, the company aims to open 20 E-Mart outlets and 70 No Brand stores in the Southeast Asian country, the statement said. E-Mart is the first South Korean discount store chain operator that has signed a master franchise deal with a local company in Laos. Outside the country, it has three E-Mart stores in Vietnam and four E-Mart outlets in Mongolia while operating 17 No Brand shops in the Philippines.