Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Hyundai Gearing Up to Sharpen Brand Power

Hyundai Engineering and Construction is flexing its muscles to revive its well-known reputation in the local construction market with its recently unveiled new apartment brand, ``Hillstate''.

Unlike impressive performances in overseas construction, the company has been struggling somewhat in the local housing market, which accounts for more than 70 percent of South Korea's $80 billion construction industry.

Its share of the housing market in South Korea once fell from around 10 percent in the 1990s to 5 percent in 2005, as it faced competition by archrivals such as GS Engineering & Construction and Samsung Corporation.

``With the latest premium brand, we will increase our local housing sales to 3.3 trillion won by 2010,'' said Lee Jong-su, CEO of Hyundai Engineering and Construction.

``The housing sector, now taking up some 40 percent of our total revenue, will reach about 45 percent by then,'' he said.

Such an ambitious goal seems achievable, given its proven track record in subscription.

The first ``Hillstate'' apartments in Seoul last November were 74 times oversubscribed, according to the company.

In September last year, Hyundai launched a new apartment brand in a tactical way to dominate the premium housing market.

Hyundai said the brand ``Hillstate'' is to evoke feelings of high society and pride and is a combination of the word ``Hill'' representing a high-class residential complex and ``state'' that suggests high status.

Additionally, the name symbolizes the ``H'' of Hyundai emphasizing ``history,'' ``hotness,'' ``human,'' and ``honor,'' which are four main tailored categories appealing to consumers, company officials said.

Restoring Past Glory

Hyundai Engineering and Construction, which celebrates its 60th founding anniversary this year, was established by the late Hyundai Group founder Chung Ju-yung as Hyundai Civil Works Company in 1947.

Once a renowned local builder from the 1970s to the 1990s, Hyundai was separated from Hyundai Group, the country's once-largest conglomerate, in 1999. An earlier-than-expected escape from its own debt workout program in May last year paved the way for the company to have a chance to regain its leadership in the local construction market.

Hyundai, boosted by its bright performances abroad, appears confident of restoring its past glory as the country's top construction company.

``We secured $3.4 billion worth of overseas orders from gas to harbor projects at the end of September this year, surpassing the yearly target. We expect new orders worth almost 10 trillion won this year, including more than $3.4 billion from overseas,'' Lee said, expressing hope that sales will improve continuously as the company is diversifying its business strategies from simple construction to value added projects.

``We will join forces with top foreign design companies to offer more delicate housing spaces to our consumers in order to make them feel like living in high-class residential complexes,'' Lee said.

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