Chung Joon-ho is the chief executive of Lotte Shopping. The managerial maverick leads one of South Korea's largest retail groups with holdings of around 30 luxury department stores, shopping malls, outlet chains, e-commerce ventures, hypermarkets and an expansive duty-free store network. Poached from the overseas fashion division of rival Shinsegae in late 2021 to head up Lotte’s department store unit, he was appointed CEO of Lotte Shopping the following year. Tasked with the challenge of keeping the physical retail behemoth in good financial health during Covid-19 pandemic restrictions, Chung unleashed a $450 million investment earmarked for upgrades of the group’s Korean stores, introducing entertainment and sports facilities as well as art galleries, digital innovations and a host of “Instagrammable” features. He is also expanding Lotte’s footprint across Southeast Asian markets like Vietnam and Indonesia.
Chung has made waves for introducing sweeping changes across the company, challenging traditional corporate culture norms in Korea’s chaebol conglomerates (of which Lotte Shopping’s parent Lotte Group is one). To meet fast-changing market demand and be more agile and progressive, he has promoted young leaders to higher positions, seated more female leaders on managerial posts and brought more flexibility into the organisation in a bid to rid it of what the local media have described as the “authoritarian” leadership style of most chaebols. In early 2023, Chung, and Lotte Group chairman Shin Dong-bin, were among the first executives Bernard Arnault met on the LVMH chairman’s first visit to Korea in three years after the pandemic. It was seen as a sign of the department store chain’s importance as a sales channel for LVMH brands which have stores in prominent branches nationwide, such as the Lotte World Tower Mall.