Korean operator of Bandi & Luni’s bookstore chain up for sale

[Photo by Seoul Book Center Co.] South Korea’s Seoul Book Center Co., owner of the bookstore chain Bandi & Luni’s, is looking for an owner to back its venture into new businesses amid faltering bookstore prospects.

The 32-year-old bookstore operator has tapped eBEST Investment & Securities Co. to lead the sale after entering into a financial advisory agreement with the local brokerage late last year, according to industry sources on Sunday.

eBEST Investment & Securities is reportedly in talks with three to four potential suitors and has plans to take part as a financial investor. It is also aiming to take the bookseller public over the next three years.

Kim Dong-kook, chief executive of Seoul Book Center, is expected to remain at the helm under the new ownership.

Seoul Book Center has intentions to expand beyond selling books by building a more comprehensive “lifestyle platform” that combines coffee shops and English-learning centers for kids, according to sources.

The company would need a new owner with deep pockets to fund its new businesses.

As part of this ambitious new initiative, Seoul Book Center this month plans to launch a bookstore café at the Shinsegae Department in Gangnam, Seoul. Another bookselling coffee shop is slated to open at the Shinsegae Centum City outlet in the southern city of Busan.

It will also revamp its in-store layout, paring down its book holdings from 67 percent to 20 percent while bolstering its non-book merchandise such as accessories and stationery.

Seoul Book Center has 7.08 million members, including 5.84 million in its physical stores and 1.24 million users both online and offline.

[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business News Korea & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]

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