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(LEAD) Lotte unit offers voluntary retirement due to losses

All News 22:16 March 08, 2020

(ATTN: CHANGES headline; ADDS 2nd photo, details in 7th para)

SEOUL, March 8 (Yonhap) -- Lotte Himart Co., South Korea's leading home appliance store chain, said Sunday it will offer a voluntary retirement program to its employees due to deepening losses.

Some 80 employees who have worked for the company for more than 25 years and are aged 50 or older are eligible for the voluntary retirement schemes, a Lotte Himart spokesman said.

The company plans to provide those who agree to retire early with severance pay according to their overall working years, a sizable compensation and a "support fund" to help them start a business or seek a new job, he said.

Lotte Himart shifted to a net loss of 99.9 billion won (US$84 million) in 2019 from a net profit of 85.5 billion won a year earlier as customers increasingly chose to buy products online over visiting stores.

This photo taken on Jan. 7, 2020, shows Lotte Himart's outlet in Jamsil, eastern Seoul. (Yonhap)

Operating profit plunged 41 percent to 109.9 billion won last year from 186.5 billion won. Sales fell 2.1 percent to 4.03 trillion won from 4.11 trillion won during the same period.

The spreading coronavirus outbreak is expected to further weigh on sales of Lotte Himart, at least in the coming months. South Korea had reported a total of 7,313 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 50 deaths as of Sunday.

Lotte Himart operates 466 outlets across the country.

Other Lotte Group affiliates already announced measures to cope with lower demand amid rapidly changing customer appetites and growing uncertainties.

Last month, Lotte Shopping Co., the operator of the country's biggest department store chain, said it will sell 200, or 30 percent, of its 700 brick-and-mortar stores, including department stores, discount stores and supermarkets, across the country to shore up its falling profit and strengthen the e-commerce business.

Lotte Shopping's net losses widened to 853.56 billion won in 2019 from 464.99 billion won a year earlier.

Emart Inc., the country's largest discount store chain operator, saw its net profit plunge 53 percent to 223.8 billion won from 478.6 billion won during the cite period.

This photo taken on Feb. 25, 2020, and provided by Lotte Shopping shows a Lotte Department Store chain that houses a Lotte Mart outlet in Busan, 450 kilometers south of Seoul. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

kyongae.choi@yna.co.kr
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