Lotte Group, Korea's food and retail giant, unveiled on June 1 its new research and development (R&D) center in eastern Seoul, vowing to strengthen its food and bio sectors.
The conglomerate has spent a total of 225 billion won ($201 million) constructing the new eight-story, 83,000-square-meter building. Lotte Group announced the opening of the Lotte R&D Center in Magok, Seoul, on June 1, which easily could be the largest such facility set up by the group so far and is expected to play a great role for the group in the global competition to secure food sources.
A slew of dignitaries led by Chairman Shin Dong-bin cut the tape to open the R&D center. Some 300 people in and out of the group took part in the ceremony. Notable guests who helped cut the tape at the ceremony included Rep. Kim Seong-tae; Minister Sohn Moon-ki of the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety; and Mayor Noh Hyun-song of the Kwangseo-ku, Seoul.
The new research center will replace the existing Lotte R&D Center, which has been responsible for development of new food products and technologies. It has also overseen and managed hygiene and safety issues related to food production.
Surging interest in health and functional foods amid a rapidly aging population has heightened the need for more comprehensive research and development capacity, Lotte said. The new center will oversee product development for the group’s affiliates, including Lotte Confectionary, a snack maker; Lotte Chilsung, a beverage maker; Lotte Foods, a food manufacturer and caterer; and Lotteria, a fast food chain.
Research staff from Lotte Chemical will join the new center to continue their work on food packaging.
In addition, the new building will offer space for the group’s collaborations with state-run research institutes and external agencies. The number of research staff will double to 600 from the current 300, according to the company. The new building will also be used as a venue to facilitate better communication with customers, Lotte said.
It will house a “culinary culture center,” where customers can learn new recipes from cooking experts, as well as a “consumer sensibility center,” where potential customers will be invited to taste and review new products. A “global real-time conference room,” where Lotte will communicate with its overseas staff members and offer mentoring services to companies interested in securing a Halal certification, will also be built within the vicinity.
“The newly relocated research center in Magok District will not only contribute to the area’s economy, but play a key role as the mecca of food research (for Lotte Group),” said Yeo Myung-jae, the head of the Lotte R&D Center. The ground-breaking ceremony was held recently, and the construction of the new research center is expected to be finished in two years, with the opening slated for June 2017.The eight-story building will also have three underground floors with total space measuring 83,102 square meters (894,502 square feet). Lotte Group is planning to reinforce its corporate competitiveness through qualitative management by going beyond management for show but enhancing the internal stability and providing thorough feedback on success and failure to prevent repeating failures.
Also, the group plans to identify new business opportunities capable of creating future value in preparation for the fourth Industrial Resolution based on ICT, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual reality (VR).
President Shin Dong-bin of Lotte Group, on the presidential board last year, said that the "fourth Industrial Resolution led by IT resolution is the keyword of the time," and urged that the company "speed up preparations to set the business directions of the group to deal with these environmental changes."
Chairman Shin Dong-bin of Lotte Group takes a look at the Cyber Factory at the Lotte R&D Center which was opened on June 1 in Magok in Seoul. (Photos: Lotte Group)