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Manufacturers, retailers, service providers gear up for full recovery from pandemic

South Korea’s key manufacturers, retailers and service providers on Monday vowed to prepare for a full business recovery from the prolonged pandemic crisis by initiating both technological and organizational innovation to tap into markets that had already gone through tremendous changes for last two years.

“The paradigm shift that was brought by the COVID-19 crisis and challenges to overcome it lie ahead of us,” Cho Won-tae, the chairman of Hanjin Group and Korean Air CEO, said Monday in his New Year’s address.

“The continued emergence of virus variants is slowing the market recovery, but COVID-19 will become a controllable disease in the end. If we can overcome the fears of COVID-19, it is clear that the suppressed demand for aviation will gradually increase.”

He added that this year will be the beginning of Korean Air’s path to becoming a global mega carrier with the acquisition of Asiana Airlines, vowing to push forward with the deal as it is a historical task of reorganizing the Korean aviation industry.

Posco Chairman Choi Jeong-woo highlighted the importance of environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) for the steelmaker.

“The past year was a dynamic one. Amid expectations and disappointments over the end of the coronavirus, business practices and orders that were taken for granted faltered. While the global economy is recovering, the level of uncertainty is on the rise,” Choi said.

“This year will be remembered as a new start for Posco Group. In the rapidly changing business environment including a big transition to a low-carbon and eco-friendly era, accelerating technological innovation and strengthening ESG management, we would like to take the first step with the holding company system to continue growth and enhance corporate value.”

Doosan Group Chairman Park Jeong-won encouraged members of his company to take a more aggressive approach with a positive mindset that looks for chances in changes.

Laying out major goals for this year, Park put emphasis on leading the hydrogen business, driving a full-fledged growth for new business sectors and developing innovative technologies and products.

“Let’s lead the hydrogen industry with confidence in our unique products and technologies throughout the hydrogen business sector,” the Doosan leader said.

“A detailed strategy should be established to beat global competitors in the markets of US hydrogen and US-Europe compact construction machinery, which are expected to expand.”

CJ Group Chairman Sohn Kyung-shik pointed out that it is time to recognize the harsh reality and start CJ’s transformation in order to overcome the turbulent business environment and move forward to future growth.

“Centering on the group’s four growth engines (culture, platform, wellness and sustainability), future innovative growth must be achieved,” Sohn said.

“Focusing on innovative growth projects selected on the basis of the four future growth engines, we will thoroughly carry out investments and M&As and continuously discover and nurture new businesses that meet future trends and technologies.”

Lotte Group Chairman Shin Dong-bin stressed that the group has to create a stepping stone for a bigger leap beyond normalization of business even with lingering uncertainties.

“What we have achieved was possible because of many challenges and failures. Attempts for innovation are essential for future growth, but it is natural that there is a high probability of failure because the success methods from the past cannot be utilized,” said Shin.

Calling for the establishment of a challenging culture that does not fear failure, the Lotte Group leader also voiced a need for openness, diversity, strong power of execution and future-oriented investments.

Amorepacific Chairman Suh Kyung-bae laid out plans for what he called “new beauty” that customers of a new era want this year, highlighting the action plans of a strong brand, digital transformation and innovation in business constitution.

“The new beauty that we will present is a new paradigm of beauty that focuses on all beings’ original beauty and their potential,” Suh said.

“Let’s expand our business beyond the realm of traditional beauty to ‘life beauty’ that encompasses the entire daily life and find the best beauty customized to each individual with digital technology.”

Cha Suk-yong, vice chairman of LG Household and Health Care, predicted that 2022 will be the year when a truly post-COVID-19 era begins, and they would only have to ride out the last bumps on the road to economic normalization.

“At a time like this, we must stick to the basics and focus on customer values so all of our thoughts and actions can start from customer values,” he said.

“When customers experience our values and feel moved, we can take a step closer to the goal of becoming a world-class luxury beauty company.”

Cha also emphasized the importance of developing the company’s cosmetics lineup and expanding business in the North American market.

Shinsegae Group Vice Chairman Chung Yong-jin set out a goal that went beyond just being “the second Walmart or Amazon,” but the “world’s first Shinsegae” in his New Year’s address to the group.

“This year is a pivotal year for Shinsegae Group to go digital. That is the only solution to become a winner in the era of great digital transformation,” Chung said.

“If we can create synergy through the combination of Shinsegae Group’s biggest advantage in offline infrastructure and digital ability, we will be able to create a complete and one-of-a-kind online-offline-universe that competitors cannot even dream of.”

By Kan Hyeong-woo (
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Korea Herald daum