Lotte CEO calls for unity, preparedness and change to overcome Covid-19 crisis

By Luke Barras-hill |

The prolonged nature of the crisis is likely to pose more difficulties for travel retail in 2022, says Lotte CEO Kap Lee.

Successfully navigating the Covid-19 pandemic requires ‘sober judgement’, ‘future preparedness’ and an acceptance to change, Lotte Duty Free CEO Kap Lee has declared.

In a New Year’s address, Lee sounded a message of hope and optimism in the face of a perpetually volatile landscape for global travel retail amid the spread of the latest Omicron variant.

He thanked employees for their commitment over the past 12 months in an operationally fraught climate and called on them to demonstrate unity and solidarity.


“The current crisis demands the time for change… let’s prepare for the future together,” he said.

“We have the DNA of success that has overcome many challenges and crises of the past. This crisis will also require all of us to work together and work wisely through it.”

The South Korean travel retailer has pivoted its business with several important initiatives, including the opening of Sogong 1st Avenue.

During his address, Lee elucidated on the importance of rational optimism and balancing faith in the recovery with a fundamental need for discipline, perseverance and a clear sense of purpose to confront the reality of the situation.

In doing so he drew a comparison with the so-called ‘Stockdale Paradox’, a reference to the plight of US naval officer James Stockdale who was held captive for eight years in a prisoner of war camp during the Vietnam War.

During his address, Lee reminded viewers of Lotte Duty Free’s crisis response, including opening the luxury online store ‘Sogong 1st Avenue’, capitalising on lucrative non-landing tourism flights and inaugurating LDF Buy – an online shopping mall for overseas direct shopping.

Lee said the pandemic has necessitated a variety of fundamental changes and not just social ones caused by infectious diseases.


Such changes are necessary to determine the shape of Lotte Duty Free’s existence as a business in the next five to 10 years.

“If we pinpoint the movement of big changes and take the lead, we will be one step closer to our vision of the most trusted travel partner,” continued Lee.

He concluded his address by promising to visit many sites this year and called on the company to push forward powerfully in an ode to the Chinese Zodiac ‘Year of the Black Tiger’ with its bold, fearless and stoic demeanour.

Lee concluded: “Pandemic crisis: will it conquer? Will it be conquered? The answer depends on how each of us lives the day. Let’s run towards global customer satisfaction with the spirit of the ‘Year of the Tiger’.”

Click here for an in-depth report on Lotte Duty Free available in the October Top 10 Operators e-zine.


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