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Asia Minute: South Korean Cosmetics Draw Booming Interest and International Investment

Courtney Rhodes / Flickr
Courtney Rhodes / Flickr

Korean cosmetics are a growing draw for both locals and tourists visiting Hawai‘i. While O‘ahu now features three specialty stores, Korean cosmetics are also available on other islands. And now the overall business is attracting some big financial names. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

Goldman Sachs is the latest company to make a bet on Korean cosmetics.  Goldman and private equity group Bain Capital are acquiring a controlling interest in South Korean cosmetics company Carver Korea.  No financial terms were disclosed, but the BBC puts the investment at more than $300 million.

Earlier this month, the French luxury brand Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton sank a reported $50 million into the South Korean cosmetics maker CLIO.  And on Monday, South Korea’s largest cosmetics maker said it plans to open ten new stores in Hong Kong this year….at a time when overall retail sales in Hong Kong are slumping.

The South China Morning Post reports AmorePacific also plans to recruit local staff because of high consumer interest—especially among visitors from mainland China.  South Korea’s government wants to help continue the cosmetics boom--and the surge in exports.

The website Cosmetics Design Asia reports the government wants to nearly triple the value of exports of Korean cosmetics within two years….which would bring the annual total to $7 billion.  In addition to China and the United States, other fast-growing markets for Korean cosmetics include Thailand, Singapore and Vietnam.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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