LG to expand retail stores in emerging markets, WSJ says

The Korean electronics maker will boost its retail presence of 3,000-plus stores by as much as 20 percent.

An LG display at a Best Buy store in suburban Dallas. The store was one of the first to roll out a new Samsung Experience Shop. Shara Tibken/CNET
Samsung's not the only Korean electronics company expanding its retail footprint. LG also plans to open more stores this year, according to a news report.

LG intends to increase the number of its retail stores in emerging markets to boost its market share in smartphones and build a bigger reach for its consumer electronics, according to The Wall Street Journal (subscription required). The publication, citing LG Global Marketing Officer Ki Wan Kim, said the company plans to grow the number of LG-branded shops by as much as 20 percent above the current level of more than 3,000 stores.

LG will focus on stores in India, the Middle East, and Africa, and it will display and sell its various products such as smartphones, televisions, and home appliances, the report said.

LG later confirmed the number of store openings in a statement to CNET.

The move comes as competition heats up in the electronics market and as rivals expand their retail strategies. Samsung last week said it plans to set up mini Samsung shops inside all U.S. Best Buy and Best Buy Mobile venues within the next couple months. The expansion will be just in time for the Galaxy S4 launch. Apple also has been opening more standalone stores, and Microsoft and others are dipping their toes into the arena.

For LG, attracting more buyers to its gadgets is vital. The company largely has been struggling in the smartphone market, with Samsung and Apple dominating the bulk of sales. However, LG's partnership with Google on the Nexus 4 smartphone has proven successful, as the device frequently sells out. LG also is counting on its Optimus smartphone line to provide a boost. But LG still faces an uphill battle competing with Apple and Samsung, both of which have more cash to spend on crucial marketing.

Emerging markets such as China and India are becoming a key battleground for smartphone vendors. Developed markets, such as the U.S. and Western Europe, are largely experiencing slower growth, with most people now owning a phone. That makes it vital to compete in emerging areas where a smartphone may be a person's only computing device. However, that task won't be easy for the traditional smartphone makers, with many people in the region seeking out cheap devices from lesser-known Chinese manufacturers.

Corrected at 7:05 p.m. PT with the correct title for Ki Wan Kim and updated with comment from LG.
 

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