Hotel Shilla in Seoul/Courtesy of Hotel Shilla

Hotel Shilla sees profit jump 63.7%

Hotel Shilla CEO Lee Boo-jin is grabbing headlines once again but this time around it is good news with the company chalking up its best quarterly performance in the first three months of the year.

The Seoul-based outfit announced April 29 that first-quarter sales amounted to 1.34 trillion won ($1.16 billion), up 19.3 percent from a year ago. Hotel Shilla also netted 5.19 billion won ($44.78 million) in profits, up 63.7 percent.

Observers point out that the group fared well during the January-March period because its duty-free shops racked up fast growth, and its online-based strategy worked beyond expectations.

However, Hotel Shilla officials said the outlook for the year is still uncertain because there are many challenges both at home and abroad.

The earnings surprise prompted analysts to raise their target prices for Hotel Shilla – Daishin Securities and IBK Investment & Securities jacked up theirs by more than 20 percent.

Lee’s personal hardships

For the past few years, CEO Lee’s divorce suit against her former husband Im Woo-jae was the talk of the town because the latter sought around $1.1 billion in a settlement.

In early 2017, a Seoul district court ordered Lee to provide 8.6 billion won ($7.42 million) to her estranged husband, who worked at a Samsung affiliate.

The case is currently pending at an appeals court.

Lee, also the eldest daughter of Samsung Group Chairman Lee Kun-hee, was recently embroiled in accusations that she had illicitly used propofol, a short-acting, sedative type drug for non-medical purposes.

In late March, a local news outlet reported an interview with a former employee of a cosmetic clinic in Seoul, who said that Lee received propofol injections at least twice a month in 2016.

Lee admitted that she had visited the clinic but argued that she did not illegally take propofol, which is classified as a psychotropic medicine. People using it is for non-medical recreational purposes are subject to criminal charges.

Police started investigations but there have been no subsequent reports for over a month.


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