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Lotte Mart Folds Cheap Chicken Venture

by 5m Editor
13 December 2010, at 10:04a.m.

SOUTH KOREA - Lotte Mart, one of the leading retail chains in Korea, has given in to the all-out pressure on its sale of ultra-cheap fried chicken as the Seoul-based outfit decided to stop selling the controversial items this week.

Lotte Mart said today that its fried chicken priced at 5,000 won a pack, which gained huge popularity across the nation since its debut last week, will only be available until Wednesday,.

Its price tag is a third of some of its rivals, mostly small-sized neighborhood stores, reports The Korea Times. Accordingly, the Lotte fried chicken caused a big uproar from most local fried chicken vendors that they would go bankrupt.

"Originally, we thought the fried chicken would not affect the whole industry due to the small supply. Even if we offered them at our full capacity, it accounts for less than 1 per cent of the annual demand," a Lotte Mart representative said.

"Our views have not changed. But we opted to take into account the criticisms that our products fare well at the cost of small-sized shops. We plan to donate some 50,000 chickens we procured to those in need."

The fried chickens went on sale in 82 out of 88 Lotte Mart outlets in Korea last week, which prompted customers to line up to purchase the cheap product. The other six shops were not equipped with the fast food facilities.

Lotte Mart Chief Executive Officer Noh Byung-yong came up with similar remarks at a meeting with journalists after the meeting with regard to the cooperation between conglomerates and small-sized enterprises.

"We have agonized because our scheme was interpreted against our will," Noh said. "I am sorry because we will not be able to keep the promise of selling the fried chicken all year round."

The measure gained mixed responses.

Owners of fried chicken outlets welcomed the move, wrapping up their strong opposition that Lotte Mart would eventually cause them to fail en masse.

By contrast, end customers will not be so happy as they are losing the opportunity to snap up fried chicken at a bargain price.

"It is kind of a dilemma between the benefits of customers and those of small-sized merchants. They quite often clash with each other and it is always not easy to find a happy medium," a Seoul analyst said.